Matt Kemp heads toward first after his 185th home run (including postseason) in a Dodger uniform, October 4 against St. Louis. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)
By Jon Weisman
A player who won our hearts leaves. A player who put a knife in our hearts arrives.
Dodger fans naturally are having emotional reactions to the departure of Matt Kemp to San Diego or the arrival of Jimmy Rollins from Philadelphia, the capper to the past week’s massive talent migration in and out of Chavez Ravine.
But don’t count out the scoreboard.
Baseball has shown, time and again, that nothing eases the whiplash of losing a beloved player or acquiring a formal rival the way wins do. That includes both winning on the field, and winning the trades themselves.
You loved watching Kemp play (though some abandoned ship when the going got tough). I loved watching Kemp play. And I was so invested — deeply invested. Players come and go — that’s been baseball reality for me since the first favorite I lost, Bill Buckner to Chicago for Rick Monday. Then the older you get, the more you have to shake and wake yourself. “Wasn’t this guy just 21 years old? Didn’t he just get called up?”
Matt Kemp became “The Bison” thanks to Dodger Thoughts (click above to enlarge), and although his embrace of the nickname was ambivalent, you don’t sever those ties without a thought.
But if the Dodgers are a better team than they were a week ago, the trade will be worth it. And there’s great reason to think that they are, that the Dodgers took a comeback season from a player and turned it into something even more. The talent received in exchange for Kemp is anything but a dismissal of his value.