Winston Churchill once said, "Responsibility is the price of greatness." Even though I know Churchill was not thinking of baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks or Justin Upton when he said this, watching Justin Upton play the game of baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks makes me think of Churchill.
Writing the paragraph above made me think of a circle, which made me think of Justin Upton's batting average with runners in scoring position (.111).
This was not how this season was supposed to go for the Diamondbacks and Justin Upton needs to shoulder much of the responsibility for their start. Upton is unquestionably the best bat the Diamondbacks have, the tip of the spear, a player that finished 4th in the MVP voting a year ago.
He's da man.
I have never wondered what it was like to be da man; maybe this is because I have failed so many times at being a man, being the man never crossed my mind. Although this seems odd to me after playing ten years of football in the National Football League, writing this column reminded me why I never considered the question.
Being the man sucks buttermilk. It's a no-win situation. You either do your job congruent to your ability and people say that's what you're paid to do or you don't and people blame you for the woes of the world. Fair? No. Reality? Yes.
Fair or not, greatness doesn't hide from responsibility. Justin Upton needs to take responsibility for playing great baseball…or not. And this is Upton's final hurdle before he crosses the finish line in the solitary race of personal potential.
Justin Upton continues to talk about team and their failure to produce runs. He continues to include his teammates when speaking of hitting with runners in scoring position. He said just last week that you couldn't expect him to "get a hit all the time with runners in scoring position."
And he's right, but Justin Upton needs to lead this team. Being a leader means doing on the diamond. And it also means taking heat for your teammates. Being a team guy is a great approach to life and baseball but protecting your teammates when times are tough is penultimate to performance.
J.J. Putz solidified more than the Diamondbacks bullpen in 2011, he stabilized the entire team and fortified Kevin Towers' philosophy of building a team around the backend of a bullpen. That philosophy worked last year because the Diamondbacks hitters were able to do just enough to win close games and Justin Upton was right in the middle of that truth.
Chris Young is returning soon, but don't expect him to be red hot like he was before the DL. CY is a very good baseball player and capable of legendary streaks of greatness, but Justin Upton is the catalyst for this team offensively. This team's weakest link is their everyday lineup and that's no slam on guys I have the greatest respect for; that's just how this team is built. And this team will go as their weakest link goes. And that's where Justin Upton's greatness needs to show up; he needs to carry this team in producing runs. It's his responsibility…
And maybe that responsibility started with a ground ball to the hole that turned into an infield hit and drove in a run.