How Upton got upside down

May 13, 2013, 6:35 PM | Updated: 6:46 pm

In baseball terms, it’s a triple play of sorts. With Justin Upton back in town, it’s natural for fans to wonder why the former number one pick had to go J-Up-Up and Away. In hindsight, it helps to follow the trail of responsibility around the horn. A triple play of culpability, if you will.

The Organization – the only thing approaching Upton’s talent level (hence, our nickname: J-Upside), were the expectations. Naturally, the D-backs’ mega-marketing campaign only fueled the anticipation. In fact, following the blockbuster trade to the Braves, the team has since admitted that the weight of those expectations capsized Good Ship Uptown. Too much, too soon with a velocity that was too intense. Especially without the presence of a veteran mentor as a next door neighbor in the clubhouse, which, alas, would’ve been invaluable (a Luis Gonzalez or Tony Clark-type player).

The Front Office – did the team create a self-fulfilling prophecy? With so many trade rumors becoming so public and so incessant, it became necessary to deal Upton. Simply put, the climate surrounding Upton eventually mandated that a change of scenery was necessary – for all parties. Turns out, that almost certainly undermined the value Upton commanded in return.

The Player – in the span of a single year, Upton went from receiving an All-Star standing ovation in his home ballpark to a constant chorus of boos after strikeouts. Did the injured thumb evolve from not just hampering his swing, but eventually bruising his standing with D-backs faithful as his poor play invited more scrutiny? In the clubhouse, multiple sources share that Upton wasn’t a clubhouse cancer, but he wasn’t exactly an asset to the atmosphere, either.

The Fans – all we know for certain is that the upshot of this Upton ordeal is that fans are deprived of watching the Goldschmidt-Upton duo hit in the heart of the D-backs’ lineup for the next half-dozen years. And that’s where the triple play becomes a grand slam and we’re all out.

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