Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Mysteries of Matt Kemp

One mystery is solved; Matt Kemp will be playing in San Diego next year. The Dodgers' outfield was crowded so they thinned the herd by trading "The Bison," eating $32 million in salary to do so.

Padres fans got an early Christmas gift last week from rookie GM A.J. Preller, who acquired two more outfielders in a 24-hour-period, Justin Upton from the Braves and Wil Myers from the Rays, and then went out and got A's catcher Derek Norris and Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Still a mystery is the state of Kemp's health. The center fielder missed 150 games over the last three seasons. Kemp underwent a major shoulder operation in 2012 and had ankle surgery in 2013. He finished strong last year—leading the major leagues in slugging percentage after the All-Star Game—but a pre-trade physical reportedly found severe arthritis in both hips.

Most mysterious of all, however, is the question of who gave me a Matt Kemp figurine.

The figure was a giveaway to the first 40,000 fans at the August 24, 2014 Dodgers game against the New York Mets.  East Coast beat West Coast that day, 11-3, with Kemp going one-for-three with an RBI but also hitting into a 5-4-3-2-4-3 triple-play.

My statue came in a box with a Dodgers Stadium return address and postage from ZIP Code 90012, the stadium or Chinatown. The original shipping label had been removed and my work address (a clue?) handwritten in its stead. Melvin and Watson insist they are not responsible. There is no immediately obvious logic to the "gift." I like both fine but am not particularly a fan of either the Dodgers or Kemp.

Does last week's trade make this a collector's item or clearance? What should I do with it? Andrei Ojeda gave mini-Matt a workout at Chavez Ravine in August. I tried to donate the doll to a Christmas toy drive and got laughed at.

Kemp always makes me think of my dad. My father and I took several trips to Nova Scotia when I was a teenager, camping a couple times in the Kejimkujik National Park. On one trip, we passed through the town of Kempt, northeast of the park. My father, by that point looking unkempt, asked me to take a picture of him next to a sign marking the town line.

Because of this childhood memory, I always privately think of the former Dodger as "Matt Kempt," and imagine him trimming his beard and otherwise fastidiously maintaining his appearance. A personal joke probably best left unmentioned. All of which is the long way 'round to my stating publicly to whomever, "You got me. I couldn't guess who sent me the Matt Kemp figurine or why."

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