The image above is the one that seems to be stuck in most Dodger fans this year. While it was more commonplace than usual or wanted I can't believe how fast fans turn on a player that has contributed so much good for this team and town for years to let some injuries fog their mind. Yes, he has been injured for the most of two years now. But one of the main reasons he keeps getting hurt is that he wants to come back so bad to help this team win that he is not at 100%. He is probably 80% at best when he is activated from the DL each time but that 80% is better than 3/4 of the league.
This was the pose we saw for most of the 2011 season and for brief moments this year but it seems that people forget that. He strives to be the best of the best and with that determination it has affected his play due to him coming back not at full strength. Fans and critics alike have been hounding Matt for getting hurt repeatedly the last two years but when he does come back then they knock him for not performing at 2011 levels. Matt can't seem to catch a break on or off the field.
I was at the game on Saturday and this was the first time in all my times that I have been at the baseline seats that he did not sign for me or other fans and seemed peeved at the autograph seekers. He did give his bat to a kid, yet another act of generosity that he doesn't have to do but does willingly. I was shocked but understand that sometimes players are just not in the mood to sign. A few minutes later it was revealed that he was taken out of the line-up due to issues with his ankle. Then the next day he was on crutches and shut down for the season. I would have been frustrated as well if this happened to me yet again. It explains why he was "irritated" prior to Saturday's game.
Then you have this Matt Kemp. The one that went into enemy territory ( San Francisco ) and literally stripped down and gave his jersey, shoes etc to a dying young man. To top it off a couple weeks later he flew him and his family down to Los Angeles to attend a game courtesy of Matt. This young man died a short time later but I am sure he died with a smile on his face and great memories.
This is the Matt that I respect the most and the reason why I will never turn on him. He has gone out of his way to make people happy and loved and there are too many fair weather fans out there that just because he isn't hitting like he did in 2011 they chose to boo and hate on Matt. Am I happy that he hasn't had a great year since 2011? No, but I look at the whole picture and not just the negative aspects from the past two years. Here is a man that on the baseball field is giving 150% for his team even when he should be resting and healing so his production can meet his heart and hustle but a lot of people just see the end result and not the actions that cause those same results. I see a man that above it all gives his time and heart to these same fair weather fans that want his autograph yet will return to their seat and boo and hiss and call him a bum when he strikes out.
If he didn't try or didn't seem to care or was just plain lazy then by all means boo him. I would join in too but that is not in his make-up so I don't see that day coming anytime soon. If Matt can really shut it down and come back in March of next year healthy, we should get the 2011 Kemp or someone really close to it and not the one we have watched the past two years. But either one we get I will support 100% and realize that there is more in his life than baseball and he does what he does because he cares.