Justin Upton’s responsibility

May 16, 2012, 4:48 PM | Updated: 9:04 pm

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.

Penguin Air

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