With spring camps officially open for business, it’s the time of year that a startling number of players make the proclamation that they are ‘in the best shape’ of their career. Matt Kemp is present at Camelback Ranch, where it’s starting to feel ever so subtly like his second Los Angeles tour of duty was meant to be. The veteran is saying all the right things and grabbing some really nice national headlines. Kemp has prepared to enter the 2018 season at his best, by shedding 40 pounds of weight.
This is pretty inspiring and exciting for a few reasons. Kemp has already made his money and likely had his best years in this game. He could have chosen the route of showing up with a sense of entitlement and expecting playing time by name virtue alone. Instead, he’s taking things day by day and trying to earn every opportunity. If fate has it that the Dodgers open the season with Kemp and his $21.5 million salary, he seems determined to be a positive impact.
A quick glance at Kemp makes me want to grab a copy of his off-season diet and routine.
Matt Kemp Circa 2017:
— L.A. Daily News (@ladailynews) February 13, 2018
Matt Kemp, Present Day:
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) February 13, 2018
One quote continues to flash through my mind each time I think of the Dodgers parting with Kemp for any reason.
“I’m gonna ride this thing until the wheels fall off. Literally.”
Bravado aside, it’s hard not to love a player saying such things. The player is telling us he’s going to leave it all on the field, every night. And why would he do that? Kemp likely realizes he is part of a team that was one game from winning a title in 2017. When a player’s resume boasts the vast accomplishments that Kemp’s does, a championship is the only thing missing from total fulfillment.
So here we are, some 40 days from the Dodger’s opener. Cody Bellinger is up 15 good pounds, and Matt Kemp is down 40 bad ones. A player’s life in baseball is full of ebbs and flows, whether they are young or aging. Every aspect of the vibe Kemp is giving off suggests he has a perceptive awareness of where his career sits presently.
The Dodgers might have acquired more than nostalgia and salary relief when they brought back Kemp. Great closing acts always have a way of sprinkling in irony perfectly.
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