In 1984, a man named Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted of the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl and sentenced to death—an outcome that rested largely on the testimony of five eyewitnesses. After Bloodsworth served nine years in prison, DNA testing proved him to be innocent. Such devastating mistakes by eyewitnesses are not rare, according to a report by the Innocence Project, which is an organization affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. They use DNA testing to exonerate those wrongfully convicted of crimes.
Since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers have reported that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. One third of these overturned cases rested on the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses. How could so many eyewitnesses be wrong? Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Sports fans also frequently have a short memory. All they remember is what a player did:
- Last AB;
- Last Game;
- Last Week
- Last Month;
- Last Year.
Quite frequently, the perception of that last at bat, last game, last week, last month or last year is skewed by the fans’ memory. This is however, a Dodger baseball blog and not an article for the Innocence Project. So, we are going to focus of some misconceptions brought on by our own flawed memories.
For example, we all know about Clayton Kershaws’ struggles in the post-season. In 30 games of playoff experience, he is 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA. Then, we look at Madison Bumgarner who is 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA in the post-season and wish Kershaw could be that good. We don’t remember that in 2012, Bumgarner gave up 6 runs on 8 hits against St. Louis in 3.2 innings or know that his NLDS ERA is 4.43 or that his NLCS ERA is 4.15. All we remember is that he is 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA in the World Series.
We also don’t remember that Clayton Kershaw has had dramatically more exposure. Kershaw has logged 152 post-season innings while Bumgarmer has pitched 102 post-season innings. We forget that in his last playoff game, Mad Bum pitched 5 innings and allowed 7 hits and 3 runs while losing to the Cubs.
Now, I am not here to make excuses, but if you take away 4 innings from Clayton’s post-season record, his ERA is very much in line with his career ERA of 2.39. Most Dodger fans will say that Clayton choked in the playoffs, because those four innings (out of 152) have defined him. We all like to place blame when things don’t go according to plan, but the reality is that Clayton Kershaw is an amazing pitcher 97.6% of the time in the post-season. Those four bad innings define him in out minds, however.
Is that fair? I say “It is what it is.” Some fans are lamenting that the Dodgers signed Clayton to an extension. Actually, it’s really a one-year extension (if you take out his opt-out). Clayton has been the face of the Dodgers for ten years and even with his post-season struggles, he is the best pitcher in baseball over the past 10 years. Only a “classless” organization would let him walk. Clayton deserves to be a lifetime Dodger, so I have one thing to say to anyone who thinks signing him for another three years was a big mistake:“Shut the Hell up!“
Sandy Koufax’s last 5 years were arguably the best 5 years in a row by any pitcher of all time, but his career ERA is 2.76 while Clayton’s is 2.39! His exploits were legendary… especially in the World Series, where he had a 0.95 ERA. Remember, Madison Bumgarner had a 0.25 ERA in the World Series, so is he 4 times better than Koufax? Look, this is baseball and there is an element of luck involved: a 120 MPH line drive at a fielder is the same a strikeout and a bloop single off the end of the bat can win a World Series. Let’s not forget our perspective.
I fully expected Clayton to miss a season, but he’s a Dodger because of his entire body of work and you can call Guggenheim and Company “Greedy Bastards” but they have taken care of a Dodger Icon and to me that speaks volumes. Would he have opted out? Probably or not, but you can’t do that to a man like Clayton. He hasn’t taken us to the promised land… yet, but he is a Dodger and history should ratify that. Clayton should retire as a Dodger. If he is hurt and needs surgery (I hope not), he will be back. Maybe he will never be what he once was, but he will be a Dodger and that’s the most important thing.
Here’s another misconception: Kike Hernandez is not an “All or Nothing Player.Matt Kemp, Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Yasmani Grandal, Kyle Farmer, Andrew Toles, David Freese and Chase Utley all struck out at a higher rate than Kike did last year! I think the Dodgers would love to have him play all over the diamond again this year. He is the Number One Utility-man in Baseball right now in that he can play seven position and play them well. He’s in the mix at 2B, but I think CT3 wins the job due to Kike’s versatility. I look for incremental improvement by Kike again this year.
Other Spring News
- Alex Verdugo looks to be on a mission to win the starting LF job.
- Matt Beaty is turning some heads. You would think some teams would want him and/or Rios… maybe Joc too.
- Austin Barnes appears to be bouncing back after a horrid season in 2018.
- Omar Estevez is a baller!
- Max Muncy looks capable of continuing what he started in 2018.
- Justin Turner is the heart and soul of the Dodgers.
- Cody Bellinger appears to have adjusted and shaken off the Sophomore Jinx.
- Joc Pederson has struck out 8 out of 13 times and has one hit. His “all-or-nothing” play is a problem.
- CT3 has not struck out in 11 AB’s… neither has Bellinger.
- Brock Stewart will go back to OKC and hopefully be put on a bullpen schedule. It’s his only hope and I have been saying that for two years.
- Alexander, Cingrani and Garcia have all looked very good.
- Gonsolin, Santana and Ferguson all could make the bullpen…. if they weren’t slated as starters in the minors.
- Julio Urias will definitely be on the 25-man roster at the end of Spring Training (unless he breaks a leg).
- The only question about Alex Verdugo is where he will hit in the lineup.
- Corey Seager played in a minor league game yesterday… He’s getting close.
- It’s early and lots can happen…