(Bob here, although Jon wrote the headline)
Back in 1988, I spent much of the baseball season living up in Berkeley, where I was attending library school. [No we didn’t have a class in shushing. That was for the doctoral candidates.] By the time I was done with my studies and moved back home, baseball season was nearly over.
On the Saturday before I started worked at my first ever fulltime job, I went to go see the Dodgers penultimate game of the year. The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 in a brisk 2:09.
Tim Belcher started for the Dodgers and went five innings before being pulled to give Fernando Valenzuela, who was recovering from a shoulder injury, four innings of work. Fernando gave up one unearned run in four innings and got the save.
I sat way up in the top deck and I recall it being a fairly hot day with some nasty air quality. I was showing off Dodger Stadium for the first time to a friend from Berkeley and he couldn’t see why the place was so special. There was a lone Giants fan behind me who chanted “OOOH-RE-BAY” nearly the ENTIRE GAME. (Jose Uribe went 0 for 3 in the game.)
But, I digress. I felt somewhat sad that Valenzuela, the Dodgers biggest star of the 1980s, had been shunted to the sidelines for the upcoming playoff run. Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson were the big stories. Fernando wasn’t the story of 1988, but he had been the story of 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, pretty much all the other times the Dodgers made the playoffs or came close. But not in 1988.
This leads me to think of the rehabbing Matt Kemp in Glendale. Kemp, who was derided by the media and fans for underachieving and/or having “bad attitude” from 2006-2010, only to have his reputation rehabilitated with his tremendous 2011, has been hurt much of this season (and last season too). He toils away in relative anonymity at
Saddleback Cadillac Camelback Ranch (you know, the place in Arizona with the thing). And, for many fans, Kemp is now ready to be tossed to the side.
No one knows for sure if Kemp will even make it back up to the major league roster in the last three weeks of the season. Maybe he will get to make some token appearances in the Dodgers final two series, just like Fernando did in 1988. Or maybe we will just have to wait until 2014. Or face a long term future of: Andre Ethier, centerfielder. How many teams in the majors would be better off with a healthy Matt Kemp in the outfield? All of them.