Justin Upton: A D-back fans have rallied around
In a pair of All-Star at bats, Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton lined out to second base and left field, respectively.
But, as the dust settles from what will be remembered as an incredible weekend in the Valley of the Sun, it is obvious that while the 23-year-old didn't get any hits Tuesday night, he's certainly become one with the local fan base.
It was not long ago that new GM Kevin Towers put the talented-but-inconsistent player on the trade block. Now, we'll never really know if the team was really considering moving the former top pick or, just as likely, was just trying to light a fire under his ass, but either way it seems the best trade for Arizona was the one they didn't make.
Because, though he's been criticized and doubted more than he probably deserved to be up to this point, the chants Upton received Monday during a home run derby he wasn't participating in as well as the cheers he received Tuesday night proved that the fans have moved on from the past and are excited about a future - with Upton.
"I've been through some rough patches here with the fans here in the Valley," Upton said after the game. "For me, that was awesome for me tonight.
"Whether I go 0-20 again and they boo me, they really showed me something tonight; they showed how much they care about the players."
The fans seem ready to get behind Upton and, for the first time in his career, the prodigy seems ready to lead them - and the team - forward. This is a scenario that didn't seem possible just a few months ago.
Perhaps even more important, though, is that for the first time in the team's history the Arizona Diamondbacks have a star they can truly call their own.
Sure, Luis Gonzalez made a name for himself while wearing the purple and teal, but he didn't don those colors until he was 31-years-old and in his 10th Major League Season.
Brandon Webb is a maybe, but it's hard to be the face of a franchise when you appear out of the dugout once every five games.
The search for the next star has gone so poorly for Arizona that, for a while, Captain Fake Hustle himself, Eric Byrnes, was promoted as such. The spectacular and embarrassing failure caused fans to be slow to rally behind any player since then, afraid of getting Byrned (get it?) and instead taking a "show me first" approach.
Apparently Upton has showed them enough.
Whether it's the average that has hovered around .300 most of the season, the tape-measure home runs, the improved defense in right field or just an increase in maturity, Upton is finally starting to flash the skills that made him the number one overall selection in the 2005 MLB Draft, ahead of future All-Stars Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce.
Sure, he may never be as good as those guys are. But the tools are there, and with the knowledge that Upton's best days are still ahead of him, it's difficult not to get excited over what could be.
In fact, while it seemed for a moment Upton would never become what the D-backs hoped he would be when they selected him, the idea of parting with the two-time All- Star gets more and more unfathomable the more he plays. That's a good thing, and Upton has noticed the fans taking notice.
Overwhelmed by all the support this week- cant thank everyone enough. Now its on to the 2nd half- hope to see you all at the park!
Upton hopes to see the fans at the park. While they may not exactly come in droves, the ones that do will surely continue to voice their support for Number 10. They're invested in him now, and will want to see him do nothing other than succeed.
Because, after all, Justin Upton is an Arizona Diamondback, for now and the future.