I have no interest in what T.J. Simers, occasional observer of the Dodgers, has to say about the team, but suffice it to say that like a vulture circling the desert, he's right there to write a column while the Dodgers are in the midst of a gut-wrenching losing streak. Not surprisingly, Simers headed right to Larry Bowa, and I am interested in what he has to say.*** However, it turns out that it isn't really anything that he hasn't said before.
"The majority of our guys are tremendous people, but there's a few, definitely a minority, but I would say the coaches want to win more than they do," Bowa said. "We've got some people giving away at-bats..."
"I wish I had Matt Kemp's tools because I would be in Cooperstown," Bowa said. "He has so much athleticism. I don't know if he knows what it's like to go full bore for nine innings. He's so talented, I don't think his mind lets him ask, 'Is there more here?'
"I have one question I'd like to ask him, 'Are you dead tired when the game is over?' My dad told me early on I should be exhausted after every game if I've done my batting practice, taken ground balls, backed up every play and gone all out. I wonder if he's ever felt like that?"
Simers later approached Kemp with Bowa's comments and to the young centerfielder's credit, he took it like a man.
"There's more there," Kemp said. "I agree. It's something I need to sit here and think about and then change."
Why doesn't Kemp go all out? Why doesn't he break from the batter's box with all he has?
"That's a good question," Kemp said.
Ordinarily Kemp is quick to brush aside any talk about potential not realized. But this time he sat there, listened to everything Bowa had to say, and there was no argument.
"I need to help this team out and I'm not doing it," he said. "I've wasted a lot of at-bats this year. Pitchers have gotten me 70% of the time, but it's not them getting me out, it's me."
So why doesn't he lay off that outside pitch as he did in April, when he might have been the best hitter in the game — seven home runs to start the season?
"I feel it, trust me," he said. "Everything being said, I've said to myself. I have no excuses. I've never hit below .290 in my life."
A five-for-five performance last night notwithstanding, even though Matt Kemp is struggling on the field this year, it seems like he has at least learned what are the right things to say to the press, perhaps better than certain Dodger officials who publicly mused whether or not Kemp's new contract was affecting his play, and certain Dodger coaches who publicly complain how their players perform, when it is their job to prepare those players to perform at their peak.
*** The date on this article is August 1, so presumably Simers got his quotes Saturday. At first I was surprised they went uncommented on until late Sunday night and not until midday yesterday in more depth, but then I realized that we collectively have learned not to react to T.J. anymore.
- Matt Kemp was the first Dodger to collect five hits in a losing effort since Mark Grudzielanek did in on July 22, 1999. Only fifteen Dodgers have been unable to celebrate a five-hit night in the clubhouse, eight for Los Angeles.
- Since Scott Podsednik debuted as a Dodger, Los Angeles has lost five straight games, and given up three games in the division standings. As a semi-random point of comparision, after Steve Finley was acquired at the 2004 deadline, the Dodgers won five of six and added four games to their division lead.
- This is the third time this season the Dodgers have endured a six-game losing streak. Last year the longest losing streak was five games, which occurred once, and was snapped at TBLA night. Let's hope this streak ends long before the next TBLA night.