Dodgers, after surprise link to Sterling scandal, stall to 6-1 loss
Matt Kemp suddenly found himself linked to the Donald Sterling scandal Sunday.
In the hours leading up to the Dodgers’ 6-1 defeat by the Colorado Rockies, the celebrity gossip site TMZ released a second audio recording of what was said to be a conversation between the Clippers owner and a woman described in court filings as his girlfriend.
The female voice in the recording promised to remove from her Instagram account a picture of her with Kemp. On a recorded conversation released earlier, a man identified as Sterling chided a female friend for “associating with black people.”
Kemp spoke at length about the situation, sometimes shaking his head, sometimes laughing. When Kemp was finished, a smiling Kenley Jansen played Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” over the clubhouse sound system. Players laughed. Brandon League told Kemp to use Jackson’s equality anthem as his walk-up song in the game, and Kemp did.
As for the remainder of the day, it was disturbingly similar to many before it.
Kemp was one for four and made an error in center field. The entire offense stalled again and the Dodgers lost for the sixth time in the 10-game homestand, which, mercifully, came to an end.
The error on Sunday was Kemp’s third. He has four home runs, which ties him for second on the team with Juan Uribe, but is batting only .221.
Kemp acknowledged he had to play better.
“Honestly, I just have to get better at everything,” Kemp said. “I have to do a better job of playing defense. I have to do a better job of hitting. I have to do a better job of driving in runs.”
Kemp refused to blame his form on his irregular playing time.
Kemp has been on the active roster for 21 of the Dodgers’ 26 games. He has started the game on the bench four times, as Manager Don Mattingly has three other high-profile outfielders in Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford.
“There’s no excuses,” Kemp said. “I take full responsibility for everything that goes on out there pertaining to me.”
He maintained that he wants to be in the lineup every day but was diplomatic when asked about the outfield situation.
“I come ready to play every day,” he said.
Kemp described himself healthy for the first time in two years but said health doesn’t guarantee results.
“The thing about baseball, baseball is not an easy sport to play, healthy or not healthy,” he said. “I have to do better. And it’s getting better — better and better every day. I figure out something new every day.”
Something he learned Sunday was of the potential dangers of posing for photographs.
“I remember taking a picture, but I didn’t think it would ever come to y’all talking about this,” Kemp said. “One picture and I get linked to it. It’s crazy. I guess you have to be careful who you take pictures with now. Or just don’t take pictures. Tell everybody, if I don’t take a picture, don’t take it personal. I’ll give you an autograph, no more pictures.”
Of Sterling, Kemp said, “Racism is kind of old, for real. Honestly, I just feel sorry for him, that he feels that way about African American people.”
Kemp has friends on the Clippers, including Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
“I feel sorry for my boys on that team that have to play for a guy like that,” he said.
Kemp agreed with Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson that Sterling should be forced to sell the team. If Sterling remained as the Clippers’ owner, Kemp said it would be “tough” for him to attend their games.
Asked if he would consider attending their games if Sterling is suspended by the NBA, Kemp replied, “Honestly, what is a suspension going to do for an owner? He still owns the team. He’s still making money. You fine him? He’s a billionaire. What’s fining him going to do? That’s not really going to do anything.”
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