Six Outs From a Perfect Game, Kershaw’s Day Was Done

Apr 13, 2022 · 68 comments
Paul (Brooklyn)
How can throwing a few more inning ruin a pitchers arm in one instance? No expert can tell me that. It is just too short a time frame. Yes, over time, even in one year maybe. It's one of the reasons people lose interest in baseball. In the past it was perfect games, most home runs, most RBI's etc. Now it who hits a curveball in the upper part of the plate, batting from the right side on alternate odd leap yrs. Who cares?
DLinMaine (Maine)
Part of me respects the high road that Kershaw took, but c'mon! All Roberts had to say is - as soon as the perfect game is gone, hit, error, walk, etc. you're out of the game. Baseball history was cheated.
Al (Suburban Phila.)
What's the point of baseball if not to pitch a perfect game? Why is it called a "perfect game"? Because it's perfect, the ultimate achievement, the holy grail. If bowling had subs would you pull a guy who just threw nine strikes? The future has arrived. The ruin-ification of everything.
Joe (NJ)
Nolan Ryan is shaking his head thinking “these players and managers are the weakest and worst of all time - how can they even look at themselves in the mirror?!”
John D (San Diego)
Dave Roberts would have pulled Secretariat out of the Kentucky Derby 100 yards from the finish line. If one wants a reason why MLB is getting clocked by the NFL, look no further than this kind of ‘entertainment adverse’ mentality.
runaway (somewhere in the desert)
the manager was good with it and the pitcher was good with it so no one else's opinion matters, including mine.
Lorenz (Vienna, Austria)
24 August 1919: Cleveland is hosting the Philadelphia Athletics. Ray Caldwell was on the mound for the first time as an Indian. After tossing 8-2/3 innings, he was struck by lightning. The official reports on this go on to explain that Caldwell demanded to finish the game AFTER BEING REVIVED. And he did toss the final pitches, winning the game for Cleveland. 17 days later he pitched a no-hitter. You can’t make up stuff like this. And now, we are lucky if we get four or five innings from our highest-paid starters (paging Mr Cole). Sabermetrics is much to blame for the death of baseball. I can no longer watch the game. Wait: That’s a lie. I try to watch when Max Scherzer is tossing. Try and justify it as well as you can: there is zero excuse for pulling Kershaw.
Greg Pitts (Boston)
@Lorenz An amazing and true story! But how’d he finish the season?
ron glaser (danville, california)
A perfect game is a rare and magical event, to be remembered forever. Manager Roberts should have left Kershaw in to pitch as long as he felt comfortable. Let the experienced veteran make the decision himself whether to continue. He knows his body better than the manager does. Do not let a once in a lifetime opportunity for baseball immortality slip by just to play it exceedingly safe. Yanking him after only 80 pitches was mind boggling. What risk was there in at least taking the mound in the eighth inning? It wasn’t that the Dodgers only hope for a WS was having Clayton keep his pitch count low. Ridiculous.
Joe P (Queens)
This would all make a lot more sense if Kershaw had been mid-season and Roberts was thinking about saving the arm but at this point, he had thrown 7 innings in total...seems a bit like an overreach...
Dave (Binghamton)
Someone has to protect that $17 million arm. Otherwise, that's a lot of dough to pay for a bench sitter.
Joe (NJ)
And if he gets hurt anyway - after throwing 20 innings let’s say - what’s your thought process then? This was totally ridiculous. They - including Dave Roberts, but not just him - ruined a great game. It used to be my favorite. But I won’t be cheering on MLB anymore. I’ll spend my hard earned money elsewhere. They clearly don’t care about the die-hard fans. I no longer will consider myself one and move on to other sports / activities.
Ricardo (Austin)
Seriously? What has happened to the game of my youth? 80 pitches, perfect game and you take him out!? This is why I don’t watch baseball anymore. Everyone swings for the fences and we have all kinds of acronyms to express value of players. I can’t name a single player on most teams and this kind of “managerial “ move will further put the game out of touch.
Steve Guardiano (Daytona Beach Florida)
Another reason why I haven’t watched or attended a game in years….
MAR (Washington, DC)
What a sad event- for Kershaw, for fans, and for baseball. No wonder the game is dying. The powers that be won't even let the game be played the way it's supposed to be played.
RobertJohnson (Chicago)
This is why baseball is dead.
Jerimiah Johnson (Mountains)
Leo Durocher said it best: "Wait till next year!"
SeattleGuy (WA)
The Mariners still have the most recent perfect game and there's nothing anyone can do about it. It's like the one thing we have, leave it be
Scott Miller (The New York Times)
@SeattleGuy, But what if the Mariners' playoff drought ends this year, then will you be willing to allow another team to seize the "most recent perfect game" title? Bet you don't even have to think about that very long, do you? Have a great season.
Alan (Kansas City)
Looking solely at the percentages . . . The chances Kershaw would have pitched a perfect game if left in are not high, but he only had 2 innings to go and he's tossed 2 perfect innings several times in his career. The chances that he would have been injured or been able to throw fewer innings across the season if left in are, and will remain, unknown. But the chances that he doesn't throw a perfect game if taken out of the game in the 7th are exactly zero. Roberts is full of himself taking Kershaw out under those circumstances. It might have only taken him 20 or fewer pitches to complete the perfect game. Hell, he'll throw way more than that just warming up for his next start. Is Roberts going to prevent him from warming up? Kershaw's a man, a professional athlete at the top of his game; he's not a grade schooler ruining his arm throwing curve balls as an 8-year-old. Let him complete the game.
Jay Roberts (Westchester, NY)
To borrow from your analysis, the percentage chance of Kershaw blowing out his elbow or shoulder is also 0 if you pull him from a meaningless April game that the Dodgers incidentally won anyway.
Alan (Kansas City)
@Jay Roberts . . . I don't think Roberts pulled Kershaw so he wouldn't blow out his elbow in that game. I think he pulled him to minimize the chances that Kershaw would incur an injury later in the season due to too much accumulation of pitches over time. By the way, the game clearly wasn't meaningless to the Dodgers, else they wouldn't have started Kershaw in the first place. Do you consider all April games to be meaningless, just because of where they fall on the calendar?
Jay Roberts (Westchester, NY)
@Alan meaningless in the sense that it’s two innings of 1 out of 162 games where you are leading by 6 runs.
Tom (Des Moines, IA)
The decision confounds the "great man" theory of alot of things as well as cultural egocentrism that dictates focus on the individual and his/her accomplishments. It doesn't confound basic baseball sense, nor the idea that, if the perfect game/no hitter is completed by the bullpen, then Kershaw gets primary credit for his contribution to an exceptional success. Because baseball is a team game, there's no loss in individual accomplishment if others contribute to it.
Seelochan Beharry (Vancouver, BC. Canada)
As the innings continue, and the batters get more exposure to the pitching of Clayton Kershaw, the likelihood of someone reaching base (hit, walk or hit by pitch) increases. No MLB team wants to surrender a perfect game to a pitcher. Spring season was short and it is still too early in the season to take chances with an aging pitcher - however outstanding he is. Which manager would want to risk the arm and career of such a great pitcher? Roberts did what any sane professional baseball manager would do - think long term. Hopefuly, we see Cayton pitch a perfect game in the playoffs - when it really matters! Care that arm Mr Kershaw, we would like to see you many more years on the mound.
Scott Miller (The New York Times)
@Seelochan Beharry, There was a time, Seelochan, when I would have been among the crowd raging that the game has changed and a pitcher should be given a chance to complete a run at a perfect game. But here's the thing: Circumstances change and not every attempt at a perfect game is equal: As you noted, spring training was only three-and-a-half weeks after the lockout. Kershaw was injured and could not pitch last October. Knowing him and his desire to win, my guess is that when manager Dave Roberts consulted with him in-game and Kershaw agreed that he was finished, part of his thinking was remembering how miserable he was watching the playoffs from the dugout last autumn and being unable to contribute. His exit after the seventh inning Wednesday in Minnesota was the wise decision, it was the experienced decision and, ultimately, it was the right decision.
MH (Newburgh, NY)
@Seelochan Beharry I don't think a perfect playoff game is possible fella, not if Roberts is going to pull him in the early season-going...what do you think he'd do in October? Give him 100 pitches and nine innings? Not a chance.
Joe (NJ)
It was the wrong decision if he gets injured in the fourth inning of his next outing. It was the wrong decision if he gets injured in May, June, July or August. It was the wrong decision if the Dodgers get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs (or any other round for that matter). It was the wrong decision if Kershaw wakes up the wrong way and his elbow hurts at any point this season. It was the wrong decision period.
michjas (Phoenix)
For all those blaming Roberts, I’m pretty sure that if Kershaw had protested, he would have got his way. And if it wasn’t that important to Kershaw, that’s the real story.
fenross2 (Texas)
@michjas And did Kershaw provide you with that information?
William F Rothman (Queens, NY)
Very few will remember who won the world series in 2022, but many would have remembered Kershaw's perfect game (had it occurred). Now we can remember how he was pulled after 7.
Jay Roberts (Westchester, NY)
Switch around what people will remember and I think you may be on to something. It’s April man, one game in the regular season just doesn’t matter, and they won the game anyway, you don’t get style points for winning pretty.
Scott Miller (The New York Times)
I would quibble with your premise, Mr. Rothman. Sure, there is a percentage who are as you describe. But many more will remember the 2022 World Series winner -- especially Clayton Kershaw, if he remains healthy, the Dodgers play for the crown and Kershaw is able to contribute. At this stage of his career, he plays for one thing, and that's to win. That is what drives him, as he's said with increasing regularity as he's aged.
LJR (South Bay)
The guy threw only 80 pitches. 80! Good thing Roberts wasn't Gehrig's manager: "Hey, Lou, I know you've got this incredible consecutive games streak going, but geez, it's only April and we gotta think about October. And, after all, you are 35 years old, so I'm gonna sit you today." Anyone think this game will be mentioned on Kershaw's HOF plaque? If Kershaw starts 20 games and throws, say, 85 pitches per game, that wold be 1700 pitches. Would allowing him to throw another 15-20 pitches in this game (assuming he felt he could do so) realy make much of a difference? Poor, poor baseball.
Steve (Pacifica CA)
Roberta is just the messenger. He seems like a good guy, but he’s not in that dugout to make decisions. Everything is called by the bean country. Everything.
1515732 (Wales,wi)
Shameful decision based on the current vogue of pitch counts and massive bullpens. Jackson is spot on; eighty pitches and out?
jmd (md)
* it was Kerhsaw's first start of the year and you'd be hard pressed to find any pitcher throwing many more than 80 pitches in their first start. * yeah, tough call, but seems like the right call. as others have said he's a valuable asset and "better safe than sorry". * and i'm glad he didn't do this in either of the last two years in one of those 7 inning double headers
Christopher Rillo (San Francisco)
I wish Roberts had left Kershaw in the game. For the sake of the game, maybe there should be a rule that pitchers cannot be pulled form no hot games unless they are injured. It seems though that we should not need a rule. If Roberts managed the Dodgers in the 1060's, Koufax with his ailing arm would have never pitched a no hitter.
Times Guy (Chicago)
This notion that all fun is off limits is getting so tiresome. How is this different that an artist who stops painting before he ( or she)finishes his ( or her) masterpiece because he ( or she) might sprain his ( or her) wrist? Shouldn’t the NyTimes editorialize? This is the big underrated crisis of our time. The tendency to drain everything out of everything and accept it passively. WAKE UP!!!!!!!
Jay Roberts (Westchester, NY)
Artists in the Renaissance often left the mundane details to be completed by their apprentices when the bulk of the hard work was done, so this is an apt comparison. More to the point, it’s the job of a team is to win as many games as possible and ideally to win the championship. Let’s say Kershaw throws 20 more pitches and gets his perfect game. You get nothing more in the standings since they won the game anyway and risked putting undue wear and tear on an aging arm. What if that arm breaks down in September, he can’t pitch in the World Series, and you lose? Are you seriously going to get in front of a microphone at the press conference and say “Well despite the loss, we did have a perfect game in April so this season was really a success”?
michjas (Phoenix)
When the bullpen is more important than the rotation, the Rays can beat the Yankees, the Royals can beat the Mets and the Dodgers can lose to someone, anyone. I’m all in for bullpens that make all the difference. In my 68 years, there’s been a couple of perfect games. But there have been countless set-up men and closers that were worth the price of admission day after day.
chambolle (Bainbridge Island)
Clayton Kershaw has a base salary of $17 million for the 2022 season. [If he’s able to start 26 games, he’ll get paid $21 million]. That makes Kershaw a $17 million asset, with a lot of miles on the odometer and plenty of engine wear. Of course Dodgers management is going to protect that asset. If Kershaw can’t pitch, he’s just a $17 million liability — to the extent Underwriters at Lloyds hasn’t got it covered. And methinks the Underwriters want that asset protected as well. This is Major League Baseball’s version of ‘too big to fail.’ Get over it; or resign yourself to the minor leagues.
Ricardo (Austin)
I am over it. Completely. The thrill and accomplishment of a rare perfect game should supersede all this blather about the whole season and artists having apprentices finish their work. For certain, I will not watch a single game on tv this year-haven’t for quite a while. One Cub game per year (Wrigley beer garden) is plenty.
Alan Dean Foster (Prescott, Arizona)
This may be sensible. It may be justifiable. But it isn't fun. I remember when baseball was fun.
chambolle (Bainbridge Island)
@Alan Dean Foster: Alas, that was also when baseball players often worked on commission selling cars or men’s shoes in the off-season to make ends meet. The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction since.
Scott Miller (The New York Times)
@Alan Dean Foster, Hear, hear, in an age in which words like "economics", "business", "data" and "assets" rule, simple fun is so underrated. You are so right ... but you know what wouldn't be fun? Irresponsibly allowing a pitcher returning from a flexor tendon injury who was not allowed to pick up a baseball until January to overdo it in his first start of the season after a short spring on a 38-degree day. Big picture, I'm in total agreement with you, Alan. We need far more fun. But on a case-by-case basis, this wasn't the time to aim for fun.
Kroobey (West Coast)
@Alan Dean Foster New York City area fans will have to suscribe to six different streaming services to wat ch both teams play a complete season. The MLB commissioner was asked for a comment and said something along the lines of “it’s all about reach.” Right into fans’ wallets, I guess. Baseball brings some of this on itself. Managers’ trying to recoup two unprofitable years on players’ backs, players taking an all or nothing approach. My mom took me to Yankee Stadium for the first time when I was 7, and countless games after. I was born shortly before Pearl Harbor. Back to Kershaw. I would have liked to see him go for the perfect game but Roberts did the right thing and Kershaw was gracious. Baseball is it is and perhaps should be. But fun? Baseball is no longer fun, and certainly no longer America’s pastime.
Paulf (LA)
Great decision by Roberts! Anyone can criticize the decision but no matter, he is the expert--living, breathing the health of the players, along with the entire Dodger organization. If Kershaw had thrown a perfect game (and he of course might not have) but was lost to the season...then what?
Stephen (Wisconsin)
In baseball, there are no guarantees. Managers have limited pitches and pitchers still break down. If Roberts leaves Kershaw in, and he pitched a perfect game, there might be no long-term affect, or he gets hurt. Who knows? So, he takes him out, and still, Kershaw could be injured in his next bullpen session. Pitching is incredibly physically demanding and the human body is unpredictable.
Joe (Philadelphia)
This is everything that is wrong with baseball and one reason why I no longer watch my one time favorite sport.
Alan Dean Foster (Prescott, Arizona)
@Joe Amen. Somewhere, Sandy Koufax is having a chuckle.
Michael (San Anselmo)
@Alan Dean Foster The Sandy Koufax who retired at age 30 because of arm trouble.
Joe (NY)
I get it; I really do. But one of the attractions of baseball for me as a boy was heroism. Curt Schilling pitching brilliantly as his sock leaked blood; Sandy Koufax coming back on two days rest, without his curveball, against the best right-hand hitting, fast ball-hitting lineup in the majors and shutting them out. As a Dodger fan, I remember Rich Hill throwing a one-hit shut-out for six innings against the Red Sox in 2018, and then getting pulled after giving up a run. The Dodgers were still up by three, and Hill was pitching the game of his life. Dave Roberts pulled him and gave the ball to a serious of pitchers who yielded another eight runs. My heart still aches. I understand that it's not acceptable to have, say, Sandy Koufax through 200 pitches in a meaningless end-of-season game, as the Dodgers did during the last regular game at Memorial Coliseum, but jeeeeez, if a pitcher has grit as well as talent, let him show it. That's why those who can afford the outrageous price of tickets buy them.
larkspur (dubuque)
The management class protect the assets of the company first and entertain the ego of the workers last.
Johnny (New York/New York)
Why so much coverage of teams other than Yankees and Mets the teams we care about here in NY.
Paul (Cape Cod)
@Johnny People all over the world read the NYT. News is news.
Scratching (US)
@Johnny Because the NYT, while being a NY publication, is also...one of the World.
cbarber (San Pedro)
@Johnny When is the last time a Yankee pitcher pitched a perfect game since David Cone in 1999, or pulled after coming close?
TGA (Los Angeles, CA)
At first glance, hence these articles that everyone is putting out stating the rationale for Robert's to do what he did, it was okay... It was smart... It was wise. But waking up this morning and thinking about Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw and Dave Roberts and the front office for the Dodgers, I'm now focusing on how much of a pattern this is, and thinking about how much baseball has changed over the years. Today I'm feeling a lot more passionate about how Kersh should have stayed in there. I have a feeling as more time goes by, Clayton Kershaw will feel the same way. He kept his cool in his post game interviews, though. Ugh, baseball's corporate takeover strikes again. Could have just as easily let him get his perfect game and then give him a month off Dodgers.
Joe (Philadelphia)
@TGA - Without a doubt he'll regret it. The chance to make baseball history and be part of such a small group of players thrown away by a robotic manager. His anger will build as the years go by.
Dave (New Jersey)
The baseball season is a battle of attrition. Kershaw is a first ballot Hall of Famer with a concerning history of injuries. The Dodgers organization made the right move taking him out of the game. There was no guarantee that he would have achieved a perfect game and the risk of injury was too great.
Alexander Bain (Los Angeles)
Kershaw agreed publicly with his manager. Privately, who knows? Kershaw is too much of a class act for us to ever know. He's like Koufax in that sense too. Can you tell I'm a fan?
Scott Miller (The New York Times)
Sure can, Alexander. Your feel for this one is pretty much spot on. But here's guessing that even privately, Kershaw was OK with the decision. Did you see his reaction in the dugout? He was all smiles and hugs. It didn't look like a man who was privately fuming. What would really be a hoot is to be a fly on the wall whenever Kershaw and Koufax, who have become good friends over the years, have a chance to privately discuss the day. How interesting would that conversation be?
Mr. Moderate (Cleveland, OH)
Baseball is all about numbers, statistics and history. Not allowing Kershaw to pursue a perfect game is an affront to numbers, statistics and history. You want to know why interest in baseball is declining? This is why.
Scratching (US)
@Mr. Moderate "Baseball is all about numbers, statistics and history." Respectfully, in your opinion. While those factors are huge, Roberts had his pitcher's health, and his team's well-being as his top priority, in making a call that he knew was controversial, and would garner much criticism. Roberts has shown himself to be a superior Manager, one who is respected by players and opponents, and who has the Championship bona fides. He'll happily let the buck stop at his locker, with another WS title being his/his team's ultimate goal.
MG (Santa Fe)
@Scratching When will Kersh have another chance? Six outs away and the Twins not even close to hitting him. Baseball is ultimately for the fans and things like pitch counts etc are making a slow game even less exciting. Next we will see star players like Vlad G. getting two at bats a game and then being pulled since he might get hurt.
Michael (San Anselmo)
@MG Do we think that Kershaw is the Dodgers' fifth best pitcher? He didn't start until the team's fifth game because he was still trying to build his arm strength. He said himself that his slider wasn't right the last two innings. He hadn't yet gone more than six inning this spring, even in simulated games. He made only 22 starts last year, missed the postseason because of arm trouble, and didn't pick up a baseball for three months over the winter. I'm sure he would have loved to pitch a perfect game, but I suspect he'd rather make it through a season healthy.
Scratching (US)
That was a tough call, for Roberts to make, and for Kershaw to stomach, likely, but...The manager was probably correct in protecting his pitcher, particularly given the injuries that have shortened his last couple season's...though, it is a managerial call that will always be controversial, given the rarity of the No-no, and especially, the perfect game.. As a Giant fan, it is always a pleasure to watch Kershaw pitch, and I hope that he has a great season, and...that he loses all games against SF this year. Great to see MLB back in action!
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