Dodgers' Kemp does what he wants in 2012, he'll be NL Most Valuable Player

SAN DIEGO -- Say this for openers: If Dodgers superstar Matt Kemp accomplishes his goals in 2012, he's a slam dunk to win that controversial NL Most Valuable Player award this year.

Kemp's stated goal is to christen baseball's 50/50 club -- 50 homers and 50 steals -- and he reiterated that when we spoke before Thursday's opener here.

"That's the goal," he said. "Anything is possible."

Kemp, coming off of a monster season of 39 homers, 126 RBI and 40 thefts, insisted that he still doesn't begrudge Ryan Braun the MVP the Brewers slugger won last year even after Braun's escape from a 50-game suspension via a technicality this spring.

"I didn’t win it," Kemp said. "Braun won it fair and square. The voters voted. I'll try to win it this year.

"I came in second place. I can't vote for myself. So I've got to make 'em vote for me this year."

Likes: Magic Johnson in the front row next to the Dodgers' dugout on opening day. ... Guess Roy Halladay's spring velocity issues were not, uh, issues. ... Erik Bedard keeps pitching like he did in Thursday's opener, and A.J. Burnett gives them something, the Pirates are going to be better than people think. ... Nice to see Stephen Strasburg back, too. ... This is baseball: Jose Valverde goes all of 2010 without blowing a save opportunity, then coughs up Justin Verlander's 2-0 lead in the ninth Thursday. Perfect. And also let that be Exhibit A into how luck plays into both Cy Young Awards and MVPs, both of which Verlander won last year. He should be 1-0 today instead of 0-0. ... The relationship between Chipper Jones and New York. He was booed -- as usual -- during pre-game Thursday, and he loves every minute of it. ... The Mets couldn't have asked for more on opening day with David Wright's RBI single and Johan Santana's five shutout innings. ... Padres broadcaster and former Yankees infielder Jerry Coleman, now 87, throwing the first pitch in Petco Park before the opener. "I can't go again until next year," Coleman quipped.

Dislikes: Frank McCourt next to Magic Johnson in the front row next to the Dodgers' dugout on opening day. ... Terry Francona in the ESPN TV booth for the Red Sox-Tigers on Thursday. I really like Francona, but that's just too weird.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now I got quarters in my loafers tryin' to fight inflation
"When it only used to take a cent
"Sometimes I wish I was back in my crash pad days
"Before I knew what cash flow meant "

-- Jimmy Buffett, We Are the People (Our Parents Warned Us About)

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