Time to Turn the Upton Jeers to Cheers
Isn’t it funny when a guy is underachieving, and making some questionable moves people dog him like a convicted felon. There has been more than one chorus of boos issued to the direction of Tampa Bay Rays Centerfielder B J Upton in his Rays career. Some deserved, some just raining down because of past deeds.
Why is there no sign of people within the Rays Republic giving Upton any symbol of praise or acknowledgment that Upton has answered Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s call. That Upton and Rays rookie Sam Fuld seem to be the only field players adhering to Maddon’s “find another way” 2011 mantra. Finally we are seeing the Upton we have been anticipating for 3 MLB seasons, and the cheers are still a bit muted.
Could it be so many of you are waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop”? That you see this recent bit of timely hitting and defensive play as a mirage instead of someone taking responsibility for his game. Sure Upton is still a bit of a train wreck waiting to happen on the base paths, but he is still churning, trying to find that “other way” to produce and get the momentum headed in a different position.
When Evan Longoria went down with his oblique injury, people looked more to Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon for leadership and providing that extra zip, bam and explosion. Instead it has been the guy so many of you have trampled on, downgraded to average, and basically forgot is team first too.
Consider for a moment that Upton currently leads the Rays in Batting Average (.364), Slugging Percentage (.727) and Total Bases (16) during this Rays offensive drought. The closest Rays to Upton in hitting right now is Rays rookie LF Sam Fuld who sports a .455 OBP and 4 stolen bases. But still the Rays Republic is unmoved by Upton’s stats.
Maybe these Rays statistics will sway your mind a bit more towards seeing that Upton is trying to find “another way” to help this team on the field. Upton also currently leads the Rays in hits (8), Home Runs (2) and RBIs (3) on a squad that is collectively hitting .145 going into tonight’s White Sox contest. Even former Rays/current Cubs 1B Carlos Pena is shaking his head over that stat.
Still, the multitudes want to go back to Upton’s base running blunders which include being caught stealing twice in three chances this season. His bonehead play against the Orioles ultimately should have been an obstruction call on O’s SS J J Hardy, but we know what happened there. In his second caught stealing play also against the Orioles, Upton tried to pick the pocket of Baltimore catcher Matt Weiters, but a perfect throw down to third caught Upton fair and square.
Why are we beating up on the guy who is doing everything in his power to try and eliminate the pressure and get the Rays their first lead in a game this season. That’s right, over 50+ innings of play already in 2011, and the Rays have never been in front. Last time I looked there were 9 men in the line-up, and 9 in the field, but the crowd has had Upton square in their sights.
It is time to admit Upton is showing a great bit of maturity and want to again taste champagne in September and October. He took full responsibility for his base running mistake against the Orioles, which is a far departure than in his past. He has led by example on and off the field this season and has taken on the additional responsibility of being a team leader, which he shied away from in the past.
But still people are chattering that he is lolly gagging to the ball in the outfield. Not providing run production by making mistakes on the base paths, thus still not the player so many want to see this season. 6 games into a new season and already the Upton “boo-birds” have tweeted their cackling refrain.
What else does Upton have to do besides lead this team on offense. Did you know Upton has a lifetime .315 average at U S Cellular Field, the home of the White Sox and might be key in this series? Upton also hit .316 against this same White Sox team in 2010.
Why can’t we all celebrate the fact Upton is perfect in the field in all 6 games. Has provided countless Rays hits, plus hit two incredible line drive Home Runs and enjoy the positives concerning Upton. Maybe the Rays Republic also needs to adopt Maddon’s philosophy of forgetting that day/night’s game after 30 minutes and focusing on the next one.
Oh, that’s right, if we did just that by admitting to ourselves that Upton is doing good and applaud his recent actions, then who will take the role of the Rays daily scapegoat?