The Old Matt Kemp

Jon SooHoo
Just when The Real Matt Kemp was finally emerging, The Old Matt Kemp came out of nowhere to score that rare double play of stupidity and injury. Now, everything is on hold for a few days, so we'll just have to wait and see.

You remember TOMK, right? Not to be confused with the pitching tomfoolery of Brett Tomko, TOMK was that baserunning, picked off jackass who took weird angles on fly balls and swung away on garbage 0-2 pitches. TOMK was thought to have disappeared a long time ago. Unfortunately, he still makes occasional appearances at the most unexpected times.

One of those times was just the other night. The Dodgers had the bases loaded and, as it turned out, TOMK was the runner on third. Carl Crawford hit a ground ball into no-
man's land between second and first. A brief infield ballet later, and Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon was left holding the ball with nowhere to throw.

Luckily for him, TOMK was practically walking down the third base line. He had slowed up so much that a second baseman who had charged a slow roller to the infield grass had enough time to stop, take a quick look around, and still throw him out.

To add foolishness to failure, he belatedly rushed his final few strides and stepped awkwardly on home plate. He sprained his ankle and has been ruled out for the rest of the series in Toronto. The disabled list remains a distinct possibility.

It was one really bad, really stupid play. When he used to make plays like this, we had lingering doubt his potential would be fulfilled. That was a very long time ago.

Though they may be infrequent, TOMK appearances are no less maddening. Kemp is a Gold Glover who's nearly touched 40-40, touches hearts the way he interacts with fans and is capable of rewriting any Dodgers hitting record he wants to. He's composed himself admirably through the worst season of his professional career.

But those occasional, boneheaded plays remind us of that original, hollow criticism-- that he's a basketball player who doesn't understand baseball. That was a crap statement then and it is now, but you still have to wonder whether an anonymous former teammate isn't smirking just a little bit today.

TOMK's return ruined The Real Matt Kemp's return from the disabled list. Kemp hit a home run and doubled with a healthy-looking swing that made Dodgers fans begin to exhale in relief. Now, we have to hold our breath again, all because TOMK lumbered down the line and came up lame at the plate.


Jon SooHoo

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