Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton has had a rough season in 2012. He was batting .267 with only four homers entering Friday's game against the Dodgers. He was called an enigma by the team's owner, he has been booed by his own fans and has said that he doesn't care what the fans think. Altogether it has been rough.
However, we can find some wise perspective from a guy that has been around a lot of baseball. Dodgers' famed broadcaster Vin Scully talked about Upton and the pressure that players like him face because of expectations.
These comments came during the game on LA's Prime Ticket broadcast when Upton was batting in the first inning.
"Upton I think falls into the category of those players who play so effortlessly, who are so superbly gifted, that when they do get into a slump people just think they don't care, and it's anything but.
"You think back to that famous old line: Those whom the gods wish to destroy, talk of their potential.
"So if somebody says, 'This guy can't miss, This guy is a five-tool player, he's going to be one of the great players who ever live,' and the fella doesn't live up to it, they blame the player and not the judge who said he's a five-tool player. Those kinds of kids live under the pressure, and Upton is under that pressure right now."
Now, we have seen some of what Upton can do. When he is hot, e can literally carry an offense. However, he still struggles on the bases, is not consistent about driving in runs in key situations and will misplay a ball or two he should catch.
That's the frustrating part. You see it, that the talent is there and that he is oh so close to becoming a star. But he's not.
Unfortunately, rather than adjust expectations, fans turn on him, which does no good.
Upton needs to play better. The fans should be more supportive of a player that hasn't been awful. He has not been what he should be, but he also just came off of a stretch in which he was playing very, very well. Fans forget that.
At the same time, it was just a season ago when the fans started to make a connection with Upton. Part of taht was performance and part of that was demeanor.
He will win over fans with performance, but he can also help his cause with a slightly cheerier demeanor. No, it doesn't really matter what fans think when you are struggling, but he has to choose his words better.
Upton and the fans both need some improvement. May both happen.
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