With the Atlanta Braves and Matt Kemp in town this week, it is an ideal time to reflect just once more time on what the outfielder meant to the San Diego Padres.
In the midst an otherwise very normal three game series this week between the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres is Matt Kemp’s return to his former team. Early in the series opener, a game in which Kemp was hitless, it quickly became evident that Friars fans had no warm feelings for the veteran.
The boos when his name was announced and the rousing cheers after each time he was retired revealed just how negatively the former Dodger and Padre is still viewed at Petco Park. Of course, this dates back to last July, when Kemp was traded to Atlanta at the deadline and had quite an awkward exit.
Claims of him being a poison to the clubhouse and a bad and lazy teammate helped explain his sub-par 2015 and 2016 campaigns, but more importantly spoke to the lack of leadership he displayed as one of the club’s star players.
Now, after being a Dodger for nine seasons and a two time All-Star, and leaving San Diego on poor terms after just a season and a half of less than productive baseball, it is unreasonable to expect anything different from Padre fans. They understand his legacy, the way everything ended in San Diego, and the way Kemp himself feels about all this now.
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As far as Kemp’s feelings, they were put into question after his writing of the “Hello, Atlanta” letter, and rightfully so. This week, they couldn’t have been much more clear after an interview preceding the series opener on Tuesday which was fairly heated to say the least. Kemp made his displeasure with the reporters from the San Diego Union Tribune and other networks very clear, even once telling them, “You just want to talk about drama”.
Cutting the interview short, Kemp’s history of not being the friendliest to the media emerged once again. For Padre fans though, ignoring Kemp and moving forward as he himself suggests is an appealing idea. After all, San Diego has their own bright future ahead of them, and Kemp is the furthest thing from the mind of the organization.
As of now, Kemp still lives in sunny San Diego and was glad to have returned to his home away from Atlanta this week. But as far as fans go, welcoming the former Padre back to Petco Park with open arms just isn’t possible. His legacy with the club and reputation earned is damaging to his relationship to the organization beyond repair.