• Wed
  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 1:25am
Column
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 7:44pm

Clayton Kershaw is not only the best pitcher in baseball, but a tireless humanitarian

BIO

Tim Noonan has been crafting uniquely provocative columns for the SCMP and SMP for more than a decade. A native of Canada, he has over 20 years’ experience in Asia and has been a regular contributor to a number of prominent publications, including Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The Independent.
 

Cocoa is doing well, rubber too and of course cotton seems to always be a fairly safe bet. But if you are playing the futures markets then you need to forget all of the agricultural commodities and even the precious and industrial metals. What you desperately need in your portfolio is some Kershaw because there is no commodity more valuable right now than Clayton Kershaw.

At a mere 25 years of age, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace is not only the best pitcher in baseball, he is easily the best person.

Kershaw is dominating the October postseason landscape and his virtuosity on the big stage could not come at a better time. In a little more than 12 months, Kershaw will officially be a free agent and luckily for the Dodgers they are flush with cash. Every time Kershaw throws another pitch his price goes up. Should he lead the Dodgers to their first World Series title in 25 years then we are talking stupid money from an organisation that is suddenly awash in it.

"We already know we've got to give him a lot of money," Dodgers co-owner and NBA legend Magic Johnson said on the eve of the play-offs. "What's a few more zeroes? I'm hoping we give him a lot of money."

And speaking of numbers, I could bore you with them when it comes to Kershaw, who was in the majors at the age of 20, but suffice to say he is one of the most accomplished pitchers in the history of the game at 25 and under. In 2011 he won the National League Cy Young and is a good bet to win it again this season. In the first round of the play-offs he pitched twice against the Atlanta Braves, giving up one earned run in 13 innings to lead the Dodgers into the league championship series against the St Louis Cardinals.

The recipe for success in the postseason is fairly simple: pitching, pitching and pitching and while there are a few dominant pitchers still left in the play-offs, there is only one Kershaw. So, yes, you would very much like to be Kershaw's agent, Casey Close. There has never been a pitcher this young and this good on the free agent market.

Maybe the problem is with us. We invest so much of our passion and our money in sport that we forget that it actually is a business

A deal to pay him US$30 million annually for seven years was supposedly in the works a few months back but fell apart. For his part, Kershaw seems oblivious to the negotiations. He's even lukewarm about winning the Cy Young and the reason is because last year he got something that truly matters, the 2012 Roberto Clemente award for significant humanitarian and charitable work. Kershaw was clearly fighting his emotions when he said there was no higher honour for him. "Winning an award like this means more to me than any individual award I could ever achieve," he said.

A trip to Zambia more than two years ago helped to alter the perspective of a guy who was already a pretty solid citizen. He met an orphaned HIV-positive child with a remarkable smile and sense of optimism. Along with his wife Ellen, they proceeded to build a home for the girl and a dozen other HIV orphans in Zambia, and returned to open it. They plan to build more, hopefully many more.

He has also founded and funded foundations in Los Angeles and his hometown of Dallas to provide at-risk youth with mental health services. He is a tireless and relentless worker both on and off the field. He is also humble, unfailingly co-operative and the rarest of breeds; a selfless superstar.

Between the insatiable greed of owners bleeding communities dry to build massive, state-of-the-art stadiums and scores of high-paid players with a deluded sense of entitlement, it's pretty easy for fans to be cynical about professional sport and I am no different. But maybe the problem is with us. We invest so much of our passion and our money in sport that we forget that it actually is a business. Yet at the risk of deifying Kershaw, perhaps nothing he does is more amazing than his ability to let us believe again in sport and sportsmen. I mean how many of us are spending our holidays in Africa building HIV orphanages?

Kershaw certainly deserves to make more money then any player ever in his next contract. I truly hope he gets it as well because if the past is any indication, not a penny of it will be wasted.

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