After a horrific tornado ripped apart Oklahoma City on Monday, killing 24 people and injuring 233 at last count, Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp proclaimed that he'd help relief efforts in Oklahoma with his bat and checkbook.
I'm giving $1000 for tonight's HR and every HR until the All-Star break for the victims of my hometown in OKC. #PrayforOklahoma
— Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) May 21, 2013
But here's the thing: Kemp, who is from nearby Midwest City, hit only his second home run of of the season on Monday. That's in 165 at-bats. Kemp makes $20 million this year from the Dodgers, as part of a $160 million contract he signed in 2011. It's easy to look at this all this and say Matt Kemp is being "cheap" — oh, and people have.
It didn't help matters when NBA star Kevin Durant, who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, donated a flat one million dollars on Tuesday.
Kemp is one of baseball's good guys. He doesn't get in trouble off the field and about the worst thing he's done on the field — besides having a down year — is getting in the face of Carlos Quentin after that recent Dodgers-Padres brawl. You'll recall he also recently made headlines for giving a teenager with cancer his jersey, cap and cleats in a touching moment after a game.
One point Kemp's detractors have on their scorecard is that he's seen firsthand the damage tornados can inflict. MLB.com's Ken Gurnick talked to Kemp after Monday's game detailing what he remembers about previous tornados in Oklahoma:
[Kemp] said he was in junior high school when an E-5 tornado with 300-mph winds hit the same area in 1999 and killed 36 people. He remembered accompanying a cousin who was hit by a foul ball in a baseball game to the local hospital and not knowing the tornado hit until the mangled patients started to arrive.
He vividly described the carnage he saw 14 years ago.
"And this one hit a school," he said. "I know where the schools are. My mom lived in a house in Moore and we gave it to my aunt and uncle. They weren't home today, but they said two blocks away there's nothing left. I've never been through an earthquake, but I've seen what a tornado can do and you just can't even believe it."
The people upset at Kemp have three main complaints: he's not giving enough, he's making this too much about himself and he's not hitting the home runs necessary to justify a pledge-drive. Here's a smattering of the negative things people are tweeting at him:
@therealmattkemp you're wack for that 1, you make millions every year, tellin me you can't just donate 1,000 or 2,000 for every HIT you get?
— Jimmy (@JDSantos23) May 21, 2013
Durant makes @therealmattkemp look like a little boy with a lemonade stand.
— Adamn Foglio (@FoglioA) May 21, 2013
@therealmattkemp how much do you make per game? durant is giving 1 million to help red cross. Couldnt you spare more from 120 million deal?
— Michael Gates (@RecDawg34) May 21, 2013
Matt Kemp is on a blistering pace to donate 2000 dollars toward Oklahoma, he makes 20 million dollars a year, nice gesture but really cheap.
— Bobby Brown (@MrBobbySocks) May 21, 2013
Kevin Durant is donating $500K for each home run Matt Kemp has hit this season.
— 'Duk(@KevinKaduk) May 21, 2013
Geez, by that kind of talk you'd think he's the villain here, not a guy trying to help out. Could he give more? Sure, obviously. Is he beholden to you, me or anybody else about how he chooses to donate his money? Hardly.
If nothing else, maybe this will motivate him to find his home-run stroke — the one responsible for 116 dingers in his last four seasons (including 39 in 2011). That would benefit both the people of Oklahoma and his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates.