When you see A’s infielder Tony Kemp doing a backflip before games this [hopeful] baseball season, we can tell you it is a tribute to Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith.
“I grew up a big Cardinals fan,” Kemp said via FaceTime last week. “It was kind of inspired by Ozzie”
Kemp said his father took him to a few games, and instantly he was hooked on the St. Louis baseball culture. Shortly after, the work of learning a backflip began on a trampoline.
“Finally until we got enough confidence from the trampoline, I tried to take it to the ground,” Kemp recalled. “Once I figured it out, figured out how my body works and tried to land it … there were some failed attempts in the beginning stages.”
And if you’re trying to figure out when, and why they appear now:
“Can’t do it every time, but every now and then, I try to surprise the fans with something,” Kemp explained.
One of the few remaining question areas for Oakland is at second base, with Kemp on the short-list for consideration as a regular. Spring training is, only spring training, but he still hit .345 in 29 at-bats with the new club.
“I don’t know how they felt … but I felt like I fit right in,” Kemp joked.
“They’ve been knocking on the door for the past years. I feel honestly, in my heart, this is the year that it’s time to make a splash. We have the resources to do it.”
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As for when and where MLB’s suspended season could resume, Kemp still has zero details but a much more optimistic instinct over the last few weeks.
“I definitely think there is an end in sight, and I think we can get on the field. Being on the group text with the guys I know they’re anxious to get on the field.”
Have we seen the last game between the A's and the Cleveland Indians as they're known today? Just hours after the NFL team in Washington announced it would consider changing its racist nickname, Cleveland's MLB franchise released a statement indicating that the team was open to discussions on changing the "Indians" nickname.
The franchise has used the "Indians" moniker for over a century, switching over from the Cleveland Naps back in 1915. Broncos, Bluebirds, Lake Shores and Bustlers all also are nicknames the franchise has had in its lengthy history.
[RELATED: How Black MLB players are confined by baseball's conservative culture]
Cleveland's management clearly has understood how the nickname could be considered offensive, as it removed the controversial "Chief Wahoo" alternate logo from the team's uniforms and most apparel at the end of the 2018 season.
Public pressure has mounted in the wake of sweeping support across the nation for reform to fight systemic racism and police brutality in the United States.
It won't be a surprise if we see not one, but two major American sports franchises completely rebrand with a new nickname and mascot before 2020 wraps up.
[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]
The A’s activated a 60-man player pool to start training for the upcoming 2020 baseball season. Most of those players will work out of Oakland Coliseum during a three-week camp to prepare for games that count. The rest will go to an alternate site that the A’s have yet to determine.
“That has not been easy,” A’s general manager David Forst said Friday. “We’re working on that. We have a lot of players and staff members waiting by the phone anxious to hear when they’re leaving and when they’re going. I’m spending a lot of time working on that, as are a lot of other people.”
Stockton was the most obvious location. The A's Single-A affiliate resides there, so it seemed natural the Ports would host members of the player pool not training in Oakland and, eventually, those not part of the 30-man roster.
The A’s didn’t cement that site due to increased concerns over spikes in coronavirus cases and the heightened restrictions that followed.
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Stockton remains a possibility, though the A’s have explored other options in relatively close proximity to their home base. The ongoing public health crisis that delayed the MLB season, canceled the minor league baseball campaign and created a need for a reserve squad capable of filling in for the MLB players injured or infected, plays a part in the ultimate selection.
“Stockton is in the mix,” Forst said. “Anywhere we’ve looked around here, the situation with the virus is a factor. San Joaquin County, Stanislaus County -- we’ve looked around Alameda County -- how each county is handling things and their particular orders come into play when we’re looking into alternate sites.”
The A’s obviously need a quality baseball complex and housing around it for their players to temporarily reside, making options somewhat limited. Finding the right spot, and soon, will be important as players start to prepare in earnest for the season ahead.