The Clayton Kershaw posse knows you're laughing.
The three guys in commercial real estate know. The two in oil and gas know. The guy at Goldman Sachs knows. The CPA knows. (They also know you might've guessed accurately what they do for a living, you know, as a goof. Anyway.)
The sweaters are on purpose, by the way. First off, they wear sweaters a lot because it can get chilly in Dallas but second – there's a second – you made fun of the sweaters so they brought them back, and then they brought them back again and tied them around their necks. For you.
As one asked the rest on the eve of the Cy Young Award unveiling this week, "How can we look like the most preposterously pretentious group possible?"
As another answered, "Easy. Sweaters around the neck."
In the stoicism on their clean-shaven, glee club, ever-so-milky mugs, they are reaching for levels of deadpan dorkiness not yet summited, because they understand you need them to be hangers-on, to be the most stereotypically uncool crew in the history of crews. So, you should laud their efforts, and then perhaps ignore how naturally it came to them.
They do not, however, get their hair cut at the same place. Get that in your heads. None is named Chad, though the one you did name Chad – Josh Meredith, commercial real estate, front left in years one and two, second from right in year three – is now referred to occasionally by the posse as Chad, because it is a very squeaky name. And when you made fun of the prematurely disappearing hairline of one of them – Will Skelton, Goldman Sachs, far right for three years running – he'd hoped you could do better, sighing, "Low-hanging fruit, man. Get creative." There's better material, and they're shoveling it out there as fast as they can.
"They honestly love being made fun of," Kershaw said Friday afternoon, which works out great.
It began on a Wednesday night in November 2013. Their chum Clayton Kershaw had gone 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cy Young vote would be a landslide. Six of them left work in the early evening and drove to Kershaw's house in anticipation of a party. Straight from work. Where they wear sweaters a lot.
They found a television camera in the living room, along with people to staff it. Clayton sat on a chair and looked into the camera for his pre-announcement interview. After a short break, it was announced he'd won. At that moment, it happened. Or, perhaps, was born. Ellen Kershaw, Clayton's wife, may have suggested the fellas jump into the shot. Perhaps it was the producer. The details are hazy and somewhat drowned by the manic swoosh of Cole Haan leather against hardwood. Either way, the six of them hesitated, thought "why not?" and gathered around their friend the now two-time Cy Young Award winner, which is precisely where we found them when the red light came back on.
A posse was born. A button-down-collared, uneasy-smiling, what-do-I-do-with-my-hands looking, stare-into-the-camera-no-don't-stare-into-the-camera-panicking posse, generally wearing sweaters and nice slacks, some with – oh gosh – pleats.
"Those weren't costumes," Skelton admitted. "We all have day jobs and that's how we dress. We actually look like this."
The Internet, of course, leapt.
Barstool Sports dubbed them the Mean Street Posse. They were given names that matched their dewy wholesomeness, then derided for their dewy wholesomeness. They were called accountants, which bummed out all but one of them.
"To be honest," Meredith said, "we didn't expect it to become anything."
It became something, which is why they brought it back.
"We already knew it was stupid," Skelton said.
Kershaw was again going to be the Cy Young Award winner in 2014 (and the MVP), so they returned in their work outfits, added a seventh man – Robert Shannon, CPA, middle in years two and three – and otherwise stood where they had in 2013. Yes, they were back, eager for abuse.
First, Meredith said, it was, "Who's the new guy?"
Then, joy. Utter, Internet joy. And the posse got it. It totally got it. The men standing before America were young and so tragically straight-laced. They were so horrifically sweatered. They were so, oh, how to put this?
"We realize we're the biggest coattail riders ever," Skelton said.
So, who are they?
From year two – 2014 – left to right:
Josh Meredith. He's perhaps known Kershaw the longest. The second baseman at Highland Park High School when Kershaw was a pitcher there. The best man at Kershaw's wedding. Commercial real estate. "The glue," Kershaw said.
John Dickenson. Another Highland Park High guy. Played lacrosse at the University of Denver. Great sense of humor. Commercial real estate.
Ben Kardell. Highland Park High. Like John, a funny guy. "They're kinda the clowns," Kershaw said. Oil and gas, "Or something like that," Kershaw said.
Robert Shannon. Highland Park High. "He's a genius," Kershaw said. Also the guy who wasn't wearing a shirt under his sweater in year three, killing the sweater-around-the-neck vibe. Accounting firm, related to oil and gas.
Patrick Halpin. Energy investment. The third baseman at Highland Park. Missed year three.
Charley Dickenson. John's twin. Also played lacrosse at Denver. Commercial real estate. Kershaw finds him "aggressively competitive," which is great while not seeming to help his Ping-Pong game.
Will Skelton. Goldman Sachs. A year ahead of Kershaw at Highland Park, Skelton also was a left-handed pitcher. He played briefly at TCU with Jake Arrieta and Matt Carpenter.
Clayton Kershaw. Pitcher.
"He may be the best pitcher in the group," Skelton said, "but not the best athlete."
Every year we're reminded that Kershaw, best pitcher on the planet, goes home to become Kershaw, a dude with a bunch of other dudes, all of them trying to hold a straight face. And he's a husband. And a father. That was Cali on his lap – and not wearing a sweater, but she'll catch on – in year three. She'll be 1 in January.
The men around him were buddies and teammates and groomsmen. Now they are friends and conspirators. They maintain a texting chain, which in their phones is labeled, "The Mean Street Posse."
"I get worn out by teammates. The demographics are pretty one-sided. They say we all dress the same," Kershaw said. "They're the great thing about coming home."
And they enjoy the hell out of this, out of him, and this thing they created from closets of V-necks, Brooks Brothers shirts, rampant neatness, oozing gawkiness and a spontaneous decision from two years ago. Yeah, it's them, and they know who he is, and they know what they look like.
"Pretty dang funny," Meredith said.
So, please, laugh. They are.
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