|Matt Kemp homer pose from tonight's 1st inning homer (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)|
Monday, September 26, 2011
We’ve seen it dozens of times this year. Actually, three dozen plus two. A fully extended swing, one arm removed from the bat. Head up, Right arm extended in front, left hand clutching the bat. A few confident steps out of the box and an admiring gaze as the ball lofts deep into the seats, the left arm extended with the bat pointing to the direction of flight, then he drops the bat and begins his trot. A vintage Matt Kemp homer. It’s a beautiful sight.
As Kemp lofted his 38th home run deep beyond the centerfield wall tonight, I shook my head in disbelief. Matt’s late season run has kept us all watching. The man is unreal. He’s Matt on an MVP mission. A player that is trying to hit homers, and he’s doing it. You aren't supposed to be able to hit home runs when you are trying to. You overswing, you get fooled by off speed stuff, you get over anxious and swing at stuff outside and away or fastballs up at eye level that you can’t catch up to. What Kemp is doing is unreal. In what appeared to be an impossible task, that of hitting 40 homers before the season ended, now appears to be something that Kemp will accomplish.
The MVP is deserved. Kemp is the best player in baseball in 2011 and he knows it. He has dominated. He has that confidence and swagger. He’s fun to watch. His enthusiasm is contagious. His teammates love him. The fans love him. He's the reason you press record on the DVR. You check who is batting and count how many more batters need to step up to the plate before he comes up again. He’s the envy of other clubs in the league. He’s the guy that we’d hate to face when the game is in the line. The player that as a manager you say, “we can’t let that guy beat us.”
Matt Kemp may have just priced himself as a $20 million/year type player. He’ll make more than his ex-girl friend. The kind of contract that is A-Rod-esque. One that will make Dave Stewart an incredibly happy man. The type of signing that could drive Frank McCourt away from ownership. The second coming of Mike Piazza in a Dodger uniform, except this one simply can’t get away. He must be signed. This is the type of player that if you let him walk, he'll come back to haunt the franchise for a full decade after his departure.
This is a ball player that will set records. A 500 homer man. Possibly the all-time Dodger home run hitter. Mike Piazza, Ron Cey, Eric Karros, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider...all in the rear view mirror. Ten years from now, we’ll be looking at those massive numbers and talk about a hall of fame induction, and not in the sense that we talk about Steve Garvey where arguments pro and con for induction will take place. The talk will be about “when” not “if.” “Is he a first balloter or not?” That will be the topic of conversation. It better be discussion about Matt Kemp the "Dodger," otherwise, it'll be another tragic twist in Dodger lore. The greatest offensive force they've ever had, that got away again.