Monday, July 28, 2008
The Pains Of Summer
Watching Matt Kemp play this weekend against Our Washington Nationals, reminded me of how this young player struggled in his very first game in The Major Leagues. On May 28, 2006 At RFK Stadium, the Rookie Outfielder had been rushed to The Los Angeles Dodgers, from Double A Ball, to fill a void caused by injuries.
His first three At-Bats, Three Terrible Strikeouts. Kemp looked lost. OVERMATCHED, against Ramon Oritz that Sunday Afternoon. Finally, in his last At-Bat, Matt stroked a seeing eye single, off Big Jon Rauch, between Ryan Zimmmerman and Royce Clayton through to left field. His first Major League Hit. He was 21 years old.
Although Kemp was just trying to survive those first days in The Big Leagues, he eventually came around, became comfortable, and today is probably a pretty untouchable 23 Year Old Slugging Outfielder for The Los Angeles Dodgers. Two 22 year old rookies were on that same LA Ballclub--First Baseman James Loney and Pitcher Jonathan Braxton. Additionally, A 21 Year Old Starter in Chad Billingsly. A 23 Year Old Catcher in Russell Martin. And a sweet swinging 24 year old hitter in Andre Either.
While still attempting to compete for the playoffs in 2006--The Dodgers let their young talent get On The Job Training. The Los Angeles Front Office didn't hold back their future--to win for today. And those 2006 Dodgers were pretty competitive. They ended up winning 88 games two years ago.
Now--two seasons later, two additional youngsters have been added to their lineup--20Year Old Clayton Kershaw on the mound and 22 Year Old Third Baseman Blake DeWitt. Seven Players total that The Los Angeles Dodgers, building a foundation for the future, have never been afraid to put out on the field--to learn how to play Major League Baseball--the right way.
Yeah, The Dodgers have more talent on their Major League and Minor League Rosters than Our Washington Nationals, but that should not deter Washington Management from putting Our Youngsters out on the field, right now, for On The Job Training.
Our Washington Nationals have nothing to lose--everything to gain. Collin Balester, John Lannan, Jason Bergmann and Garret Mock should be thrown out there on the mound every fifth day (barring injury), until the 2008 Season is over. There is no excuse not to. And, if you must give Tyler Clippard more of an opportunity--so be it. Let them all learn--toeing the rubber at New Nationals Park.
Jesus Flores, Lastings Milledge and Ryan Zimmmerman need to play as much as possible. And when he returns from The Disabled List--Elijah Dukes better be playing every single day. The same for Emilio Bonifacio--when Our, So-Called, New Starting Second Baseman is recalled from AAA Columbus.
As The Los Angeles Dodgers have proven--you can win with youth--as long as you give them the chance to succeed. Our Washington Nationals need to give Their Youth the opportunity to thrive. Not have them sitting behind a veteran player playing out the string of games--not caring whether Our Team Wins Or Not.
Please, Give Our True Youngsters All The On The Job Training they can squeeze into the final two months of 2008. Please don't use their inexperience as a crutch for all this season's woes--that fact along with all the injuries. Because years from now--Our Washington Nationals and Their Fans can find something to appreciate about all The Growing Pains Of Summer--2008. We can still grow up. We can still learn something from this season. Let's not waste every opportunity away.
And as for that first game Matt Kemp ever played in The Majors at RFK Stadium? Our Washington Nationals CRUSHED Los Angeles that Sunny Sunday, 10-4. More amazingly, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson all homered that wonderful afternoon. Why does that day seem like a full decade ago? Incredible actually, but that moment was just two short seasons removed from today. Wow.