Thursday, January 22, 2009

The forgotten Iron Man

Dodger second baseman Jeff Kent will retire today from the game of baseball. He will give a speech at approximately 11:30AM from Dodger Stadium. Almost no one will be listening. Virtually no one here on campus at Hollywood High School, a known baseball school, nor radio announcers salivating over Kobe Bryant's dislocated finger are discussing the retirement. This says all you need to know about the sorry state of our society. He will retire with a .290 career batting average, 377 home runs, 1,518 RBIs and a .500 slugging percentage. His 351 home runs hit as a second baseman are 74 more than the next closest second baseman, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. In his last four seasons he hit .291 with 75 home runs for the Dodgers. He will also retire not having garnered the ring he so longed for.

The 2000 National League MVP, Kent was a five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger. He drove in more than 100 runs eight times (a record at the position), scored at least 100 runs three times and had at least 20 home runs 12 times. In 2008 he passed Ralph Kiner, Gil Hodges and Carlton Fisk on the all-time home-run list and passed Billy Williams, Dave Parker and Mickey Mantle on the all-time RBIs list. He's tied with Eddie Murray for 20th on the all-time doubles list with 560.

His numbers the last four years are second only to Jackie Robinson as a Dodger over that same time period. Whether this first ballot hall of famer goes in as a Dodger is anyone's guess. I suspect he will go in as a Giant. And so he should.

Another old school baseball player rides off into the sunset leaving us with questions about what kind of player will replace him. I have confidence in Blake Dewitt as a young man of character to fill his shoes nicely. But the numbers...OH the numbers.


Blogger Hollywood Mark said...

Kent stood up to the black bullies of baseball in terms of Bonds and Bradley. He never backed down. He never buckled. He was from another time and era of the game when the game was pure and showboating didn't exist. He was called a racist, a cranky man, an angry man, an introvert, dirty harry, but in the end he was simply a pure blue collar baseball player in the mold of Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb and Stan Musial. He might have been the last of the old school. I find myself fortunate to have seen him albeit at the end of his career, but nevertheless I saw him live and in person. And for that I am grateful. See you in the Hall. You earned it my friend.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

I thought Kent was steady Eddy, (God I'm showing my age!) He seemed always to get the timely hit. I was looking forward to him returning this year.

Glad he finished his career with the Dodgers.

6:06 PM  
Blogger JamieB. said...

Jeff Kent is a first ballot hall-of-famer and had immense, old school-style, respect for the game. That should be the beginning, middle and end of the conversation and is, guaranteed, the way Kent himself would want it. While he probably did stand up to Bonds and Bradley, that whole angle is a story with many sides and isn't worth much ink or thought. And terming Bonds and Bradley as "black bullies of baseball," as Hollywood Mark has, is just doofus talk.

1:04 PM  

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