The Dodgers' ace was 14--3 with a league-leading 1.86 ERA through Sunday and is poised to win his third NL Cy Young Award in four years. He could also become the first pitcher to be named MVP since the Tigers' Justin Verlander in 2011.
DAN PATRICK:When's the last time you said to yourself, Damn, I'm good.
CLAYTON KERSHAW: I really don't say that too much.
DP:Everybody else does.
CK: That's nice of them. You try not to think about it. You're not as good as they say you are. You're not as bad as they say you are. I stick with that motto.
DP:Has a catcher ever come to the mound and given you great advice?
CK: A.J. [Ellis] tries. I'm not very friendly [on the mound]. I just kind of stare at him with a blank face.
DP:Are you different person on the day you pitch?
CK: I like to think I'm the same guy, just a little bit more competitive. I get a little bit more ... reserved would be the nice way to say it. Grumpy would be the mean way to say it.
DP:Did you know Dexter Fowler has the most hits off you?
CK: I know that.
DP:Why does he have 16 hits against you?
CK: I don't know. Ask him. I got texts from everyone on the team when he got traded to the Astros in the off-season—out of our division. Everyone was so happy for me. I was too. It was awesome.
DP:Could you play a position and hit consistently?
CK: I would like to.
CK: I played first base in high school. I'm not very fast. If they wanted to hide me, put me out in rightfield and hope for the best.
DP:Should pitchers be eligible for MVP?
CK: I think the MVP goes to the best player. If someone thinks the pitcher is the best player then sure. Obviously, it's going to be more difficult.
DP:I think you're going to win it this year.
CK: That would be incredible. It's hard for me to think about right now.
DP:When I walk in to your house, how long until I can find your two Cy Young Awards?
CK: Right when you walk in, you turn left and [they're] right there.
DP:Do you have room for a third?
CK: I have room for a World Series ring.
DP:You do charity work in Africa. Does anybody recognize you there?
CK: No, not unless I played soccer or rugby.
DP:What if you wore your whole uniform?
CK: I don't think they'd even bat an eye.
DP:How does going to Africa affect you?
CK: I learn something every time. We take it for granted that we get to play. Over there, it's more about getting basic needs met. That's something to keep in perspective always.
I asked NASCAR veteran Jeff Burton if Tony Stewart, whom he replaced last weekend at the Pure Michigan 400, can give up dirt-track racing. "I don't know how Tony can walk away from [it,]" Burton said. "Dirt-track racing is at the core of who he is—it's as much social as it is competition. Tony loves that environment." ... ESPN's Ron Jaworski, a Lackawanna, N.Y., native who used to own the AFL's Philadelphia Soul with Jon Bon Jovi, told me Buffalonians have no reason to worry if the rocker buys the Bills. "I've spoken to Jon," Jaws said. "He has no intention of moving that team. Jon will show total commitment to bringing a winner to Buffalo." ... Former UFC champion Chuck Liddell said even the toughest athletes from other sports would struggle in MMA: "I work with quite a few football players. They're fast, they're strong. But it's a whole other thing to make that transformation into a fighter."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
TOM LYNN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (KERSHAW)
JERRY MARKLAND/GETTY IMAGES (BURTON)
MATT ROURKE/AP (JAWORSKI)
TODD WILLIAMSON/INVISION/AP (LIDDELL)