Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is drawing inspiration from watching The Last Dance documentary on his favorite athlete Michael Jordan.
Like everyone else, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is watching ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan. The Last Dance has provided a rare sports escape from the realities of the novel coronavirus, which has shuddered sports across the country.
And for Jansen, if you have joined any of the Dodgers Zoom parties, or know a little about the pitcher, Jordan holds a special place in the reliever’s fandom. He can be seen sitting in front of six racks of Jordan sneakers in his home gym when participating in Zoom calls.
In talking about watching the documentary, Jansen focused on Jordan’s ability to continue to push to be the best, no matter what people around him were saying—perhaps a hint to what Jansen is currently feeling. He said watching Jordan motivates him to want to dominate on the mound.
"“Watching The Last Dance has been good motivation for me,” Jansen said to John Hartung on SportsNet LA on Tuesday. “Every time I watch it … I just feel like I want to go in my backyard, go out to Dodger Stadium right now, and just pitch, and try to dominate. That’s how you feel like watching MJ.”"
As the Dodgers closer, Jordan is an appropriate role model for Jansen. Just like MJ was known for closing out opponents with the final shot, the closer’s job is to record the final three outs of the ballgame, something Jansen struggled with a bit last season, after several years of stellar performance.
During the offseason, the right-hander made what is becoming a pitching pilgrimage to DriveLine Baseball in order to improve his mechanics. During Spring Training, the results were immediate. In six appearances, he struck out 11 of the 22 batters he faced, allowing only four hits and one earned run.
The 32-year-old is signed through 2021, and gains veto power over trades after this season as a “10-5” player with ten years of experience and at least five consecutive years with the same team. In other words, he isn’t going anywhere unless he agrees to leave Los Angeles.
The Dodgers need him to return to his All-Star form as a key piece in the back of the bullpen.