Matt Kemp Compares Braves' Baseball Culture with That of Dodgers, Padres

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2016

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 29:  Matt Kemp #27 of the San Diego Padres walks back to the dugout after striking out during the ninth inning of  a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at PETCO Park on July 29, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Atlanta Braves outfielder Matt Kemp, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres on Saturday in exchange for Hector Olivera, complimented his new city while simultaneously taking a shot at Los Angeles and San Diego on Tuesday.

"I've never really played in a baseball town before," Kemp said, per Mark Bowman of MLB.com. "So, I am excited about that."

Before spending the last season-and-a-half with the Padres, Kemp played for the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first nine years of his career.

His praise of Atlanta shouldn't come as a surprise, as he grew up a fan of the Braves, which he revealed in an article for The Players' Tribune on Monday:

Very few people know this, but as a kid growing up in Oklahoma, I was a huge Atlanta Braves fan. See, I come from humble beginnings, and although me and my mom didn't have a lot of money, I never knew the difference. Our little old TV picked up TBS, which meant I got to watch my Braves, so I was happy. That was my team! I used to rush home from school to finish my homework so I could turn on the TV and watch Chipper Jones, Ron Gant, David Justice, Fred McGriff, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz play their hearts out for the Braves.

I will never forget watching [Tom] Glavine shut down the Indians in Game 6 of the '95 World Series! For years after that game, you couldn't tell me that I wasn't David Justice. I ran the bases with him around our living room when he led off the sixth inning with that homer to right center.

I was a Braves fan through and through.

Folks in Los Angeles and San Diego may not be so enthused by Kemp's comments. And his designation of Atlanta as a baseball town—or at least as more of a baseball town than either L.A. or San Diego—doesn't ring true.

As Chris Cwik of Big League Stew wrote: "To add insult to injury, the Dodgers actually lead baseball in average attendance per game, according to ESPN. The Padres rank 16th on that list, while the Braves sit 25th. The Dodgers have topped ESPN's list since 2013."

That's something Kemp might not have considered.

Regardless, Kemp and the Braves feel like a good fit. The 31-year-old will get to play out his childhood dream, and Atlanta will get a boost in the middle of its lineup. Kemp is hitting .262 with 23 home runs and 69 RBI this season and was slotted into the cleanup spot behind first baseman Freddie Freeman for his Braves debut Tuesday night.

"I've had a smile on my face for two days," Freeman told Bowman of having Kemp hit behind him.

Kemp has probably had a similar smile on his face. Baseball fans in Los Angeles and San Diego, however, likely aren't grinning about Kemp's comments.


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