Perhaps no one was happier after the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 2020 than Clayton Kershaw, who was the team’s longest-tenured player and had been through all the ups and downs of the last decade.
Kershaw was finally able to rid himself of the narrative that he couldn’t win in the postseason, going 2-0 in the World Series to cap off a solid personal October run.
Now that the calendar has flipped to 2021 and the Dodgers are in their second week of Spring Training, Kershaw emphasized the need to keep the same mindset even though they are coming off a championship season. “Not a different mindset. I think with the team we have coming in, the expectation is to win a World Series,” he said.
“We have to remember it doesn’t matter that we won last year, but at the same time remember our team has a chance to be really special again. We can’t take that for granted. I’ve said it before, but there’s not many teams that have gone all-in year after year like we have to try and bring home a World Series.
“I don’t take that for granted, and that’s our motivation this year. Not trying to squander that opportunity. I know for myself personally, there’s some relief coming into the year obviously, having won one and not having that added burden to win the first one in 32 years. But it doesn’t change the fact that we want to win again.”
With that being said, Kershaw admitted that he felt different on a personal level going into this year after a pressure-free offseason. “I think it was different. It’s not that I didn’t have, ‘Alright, I’ve got to get going again to get ready for this season,’ because I did feel that,” Kershaw explained. “But it was for different reasons.
“(In the past) it was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to do this because I didn’t succeed, we didn’t succeed, and I have to get better.’ Now it’s more positive. It’s like, ‘I want to get ready and be at my best for this team because we’re really good, we have a chance to win, I don’t want to squander that.’
“I think that mindset has been a little bit different for me. It’s almost more positive as opposed to, ‘I can’t have that happen again.’ I think the mindset shifted a little.”
As Kershaw gets set to enter the final year of his contract, perhaps he can benefit from having won a World Series and not facing mounting pressure to do so for the first time in what had otherwise been a wildly successful career.
Kershaw not planning to retire after 2021
With Kershaw entering his age-33 season, there was some speculation it could be his last. He recently put an end to those rumors though, announcing that he plans to keep playing beyond this season.
Whether that will be in a Dodgers uniform or not remains to be seen, although the organization will surely do whatever they can to keep a franchise icon around.
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