Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis offered his analysis of the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers throughout the World Series. Always known for his defense, Ellis batted .270 and led the Dodgers in walks this season, his first full year as a starter.
With the series winding down, so does the baseball season. These last few days have been a chance for me to reflect on our season before the focus truly transitions to preparing for 2013.
Watching the outstanding pitchers and pitching performances throughout this series has brought back floods of memories of games and individual outings I caught this year.
Ted Lilly's hot start, Chad Billingsley's run of quality starts mid-year, Ronald Belisario's return to the Dodgers and his role at the back end of the bullpen, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League closing games, and the success in many roles of Jamey Wright all come to mind.
Coming into the season, people wanted to know what my individual goals were. My answer always had something to do with winning games and going to the playoffs. While completely true, there was one specific goal I kept to myself: "Don't screw up Clayton Kershaw!"
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, the face and future of the franchise, was not my responsibility. I found out quickly into the season, achieving my goal wouldn't be as challenging as I thought.
If I would listen and remember his pregame scouting report, catch the balls in the air and block the balls in the dirt, rest assured, he would take care of the rest. I understand how fortunate I am to catch Clayton, but I am much happier to be able to call him a teammate and friend. (That may sound shocking to those who follow our insults and sarcasm via Twitter.)
I was so proud to watch Clayton and his wife, Ellen, recognized prior to Game 4 Sunday with the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the player who makes significant contributions on and off the field.
The Kershaws have built and funded an orphanage in Zambia and are changing lives daily. Perhaps my goal for next year should change from "Don't screw up Kershaw" to "Do something to help others like Kershaw."
Player(s) of the game
After seven strong innings from Matt Cain, the Giants' bullpen continued its dominance in the Series. Jeremy Affeldt struck out Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young. Santiago Casilla was the winning pitcher after recording the last out in the ninth. Then Sergio Romo earned his third save of the series by striking out the side in the 10th.
Fundamental baseball is hard to beat. It led to the winning run in the 10th inning for the Giants. A simple Ryan Theriot flare single and Brandon Crawford sacrifice bunt set up the game-winning single by Marco Scutaro.
I'm prepared to say with confidence that Brandon Crawford is the best defensive shortstop in baseball. His combination of instincts, hands and arm strength separates him from the rest.
Good to see superstar players with big hits on a big stage. Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey each had go-ahead two-run homers. The probable MVPs in each league showed why the hardware is probably coming.
Love the individual camera shots of each player celebrating the final out at their positions. I could feel the emotion of a championship and a finished season pouring out of them.
With roughly 31/2 months until spring training, the Giants have earned and deserve time to celebrate their amazing season.
Meanwhile, after watching our opening-day opponent and division rival win their second championship in three years, we know the road will be tough. But Dodgers fans should be confident in our team and excited in the direction taken by our ownership group. It's 31/2 months until spring training, 31/2 months until our journey begins.