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... He's not a Fernando or a Sandy. Not even a Piazza or (for that brief, baggage-heavy moment) a Manny. He's not a "Bulldog" or a "Game Over."
He's still a plain old guy with two plain old names, with a humble personality to match -- a wolf in sheepish clothing.
If you say Clayton Kershaw is the best player on the Dodgers, you won’t necessarily get an argument, but you might get a shrug. With disappointment still dripping from the team's 2010 season, "best player on the Dodgers" won't earn you much more than a patronizing pat on the head, maybe an extra juice box after practice. For now, anyway.
Sometimes it happens practically overnight, the way it seemed to with Fernando Valenzuela and Mike Piazza. Other times -- more often, really -- it's years in the making, as with Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser and Eric Gagne.
Either way, there's an explosion within reach for Kershaw -- oh, you better believe there is. He turns 23 on March 19, and soon after, he might turn Dodger Stadium back into a place where fans are racing through the crowds for their seats, the way they did for those transcendent heroes of the recent or distant past, for no other reason than to drool over his next pitch or exult in his supremacy. ...