I've come to terms with the fact that Clayton Kershaw very well could be the best pitcher that I have seen in my lifetime.
Yeah, I know, you have issues with that statement.
Maybe you're a Felix Hernandez or Matt Harvey or Max Scherzer fan. Sorry, Clayton's better.
Maybe you know how old I am and that in my time following baseball, I have seen Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Dwight Gooden, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Jim Palmer and Roger Clemens. But I think Clayton will surpass all of them in one way or another if he continues like he has.
Maybe you're questioning my use of the phrase "come to terms" -- aren't I a Dodger fan? Yes, of course I am. But the more unfair Kershaw gets, the more people will want to collect his cards. And I can't compete with that.
As noted before, I now have 300 cards of Kershaw. I want more.
But look at these numbers:
-- He leads the major leagues in strikeouts (182), ERA (1.80), WHIP (0.85), innings per start (7.32) and opponents' batting average (.182).
-- His career ERA of 2.63 is the lowest for any pitcher with at least 1,000 innings pitched since 1920.
People may dispute that second stat by saying you're comparing a guy who has been in the league for five years with those who completed 15-plus year careers. And I realize that. But you can't dispute the potential Kershaw has, the fact that the stat is still amazing, and that all of it is still NOT HELPING ME GET HIS CARDS.
Fortunately, at least a few people are still willing to trade me a Kershaw card or two.
The above blue beauty came from Thorzul.
I've got to get some Brewers to him as soon as August austerity breaks, but in the mean time I will treasure such a wonderful-looking card of the pitcher who can do no wrong.
This was my 298th Clayton Kershaw card and even though there are 2,103 versions of each Opening Day blue sparkle card, it was the most one-of-a-kind card in the package. Because of the guy on the front.
Here are some other cards that were in there:
This 1998 Donruss Rookie Diamond Kings card of Paul Konerko completed my only need for this set.
You could argue that Konerko is one-of-a-kind, still clicking along with a fantastic career after bouncing through the Dodgers and Reds organizations. And as the 66th card I have of Konerko in a Dodger uniform, it's a little unusual to have so many cards of a player with a team for which he barely played.
But numbered to 10,000? Who are we kidding?
Roy Campanella was one-of-a-kind in a lot of ways. One of the first African-American players to compete in the major leagues. The first catcher to win the N.L. MVP award three times.
And these Renata Galasso TCMA cards back in 1977 were certainly one-of-a-kind in my eyes. I loved these cards for what was unique to that 11-year-old -- depicting past legends of the game in a current set.
Ah, Chin-Feng Chen. He was one-of-a-kind when he became the first player born in Taiwan to play in the major leagues. Didn't do much for the Dodgers, but this is a nifty card.
Speaking of one-of-a-kind, I wonder if 2004 Clubhouse Collection was the first set that included nothing but relic cards. Probably not. But I don't travel in such fancy circles to know things like this.
Which is why I'll always trail behind other Kershaw collectors with more disposable income.
But that won't stop me from trying to get more of his cards.
After all, if he's going to be the best pitcher I've ever seen, I have to at least try.