August 13, 2010, 8:44 p.m. Bill Plaschke, right and wrong as well. First things first, Plaschke and I have gotten a little dialog going recently, and this isn't about me shooting the messenger. Those days are gone, so you might as well get used to it right now.
I asked him for some background on the Kemp piece, and he was considerate in his response. Moreover, I appreciate what Plaschke does as a columnist, and aspire to the type of success he's had. In fact, I'm working on it.
That said, and Plaschke's column this morning is a good one, the "Pushing the Dodgers' Matt Kemp issue closer to brink" is a bit off base. And that's my domain.
There's no brink to be closer to. Matt Kemp is not going to be traded unless it benefits the Dodgers. He's not going to be moved. Period, exclamation point.
They won't "sell low," they won't ship him out of town simply because his agent, Dave Stewart, suggests it as an option, and they do realize, at least in some small way, that Matt Kemp is not the reason the Dodgers are 59-57 on August 13.
Stewart is right about one thing. This business about the club going public with complaints about Kemp needs to stop. There's no call for that kind of behavior. Ned Colletti blew it in May when he used the media to communicate his issues with the player, and Larry Bowa did the same during the summer.
The Bowa transgression is more glaring for two reasons. First, Bowa knows the "what happens in-house, stays in the in-house" thing as well as anybody, and he chose to break that code. Can you imagine what Bowa would say if the cleat was on the other foot?
More importantly, while current major league managers like Jim Riggleman, Buck Showalter and Jim Tracy have gotten multiple stabs at the role – and the all-time list of retreads is a mind-numbing concept to behold – Bowa's managerial opportunities stopped dead in the water at two – with jobs in San Diego and Philadelphia.
Reason? Interpersonal relationships. He didn't have the skills required to deal with people, and therefore, he could not lead. And he's never going to get another chance because of it.
But listen, if Dave Stewart is going to complain about the public complaining of others, he shouldn't do it himself. C'mon. This is just common sense we're talking here. A little magnanimity goes a long way, and Stewart ought to get together with Ned and sort things through. And failing that, he ought to consider the likelihood of either new field management or club ownership in 2011, and hold his horses to see what that brings.
And Dave Stewart really ought to leave the 1970s and 1980s out of it completely. Just because Stewart had to leave Los Angeles to find success doesn't mean Kemp has to.
Kemp has already accomplished more as a Dodger than Stewart ever did, and he's been a considerably better citizen. Stewart is famous for two things, and precisely two things, which took place in L.A. way back when, and if Kemp ever went there, to either of those two dark places, he'd have to escape to a mountaintop on a bordering continent to get away from the hell that would come crashing down on him.
So, memo to Mr. Stewart: just stop talking about your old Dodger days. You didn't distinguish yourself all that much, and certainly not in any way you want dredged up now.
I also have to wonder how Stewart would react to the types of things Kemp does on a semi-regular basis, and if this were, say, the 1989 Oakland Athletics. My guess is that Stewart would confront his teammate, and tell him what to do, in no uncertain terms. Stewart probably wouldn't go public, but he'd get in the man's face, don't you think?
And by the way, let's not just blanket Kemp's misadventures on the field as simply "frustrating," the failings of "inexperience," or even "Little League."
That play Plaschke mentions, in the eighth last night, in which Kemp loses sight of his batted ball down the right field line, and decides that standing in place is the wisest course of action. That's not Little League, OK. Little League is missing your cutoff man. Kemp does that too.
Confusion after hitting the baseball is pre-Little League. I don't know what they call that organization now, but it's five and six and seven year old stuff. Tell me the most common cry from grandstands filled with parents of the littlest players, on any Saturday afternoon in America, isn't the solo syllable "run!!!!!"
Tell me you can't picture just that. Then tell me how the word "run!" can possibly need to be uttered in the major leagues, ever. Then tell me how a big league coach wouldn't be expected to pull out every last follicle on his head, without a clue as to what to next.
To detail the full range of Kemp's 2010 baseball boners here would be superfluous. Let's just say that most of the mistakes he makes on the field of play fall somewhere between the categories of post-Little League and double-a baseball.
What missing from Stewart's argument is the Dodgers double standard of discipline, and since Stewart hasn't mentioned the most obvious point, Kemp needs a new agent. Prediction: Scott Boras. What a joy that's going to be.
Ronald Belisario was late to Spring Training last year, nearly a no show for it this season, left the team for unspecified reasons a month ago, has been on the restricted list twice, and has been arrested for driving under the influence. For the most part, the club has reacted with quiet support, or just plain quiet, and each time – each time – rushed him back into action as fast as they possibly could.
Now picture Matt Kemp with a DUI.
Manny Ramirez is in a state of his own, both literally and figuratively. He's in Arizona – training (I guess) – and can pretty much come and go as he pleases. He can be with the club, or not. In or out of the lineup, whatever he wants. Showered and gone during the late innings? No problem.
Now picture Matt Kemp in the shower. Uh, you know what I mean.
Look, the season is essentially over, and when the story of 2010 in Dodgertown is written, and I'm talking about the calendar year, Kemp's stuff will be but a footnote. There is so much still to take place, with the divorce, field staff and ownership, before we even get to dugout housecleaning.
My guess is that Kemp will be a Dodger in 2011, and everyone will be better for having gone through the experience.
I'm as frustrated as anyone with Matt Kemp, but I'm not all that worried about it. Dave Stewart can stand by his man all he likes. Better if he does so with a little more care and effectiveness, but not the end of the world either way...
Remember, glove conquers all….
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