Welcome to Lazytown, population: 1, founded in early summer 2008 in the heart of center field at Tropicana Field (but not to worry- it travels around the country from one ball park to another-- it was last seen in Miami on the evening of June 24th).
I'm talking about our own dear, beloved Bossman Junior (BJ, for you folks who love to initialize everything) Upton.
As a fan who has only missed watching 2 games this year, I feel that I am more than qualified to chime in against one of our beloved Rays if I deem it necessary, and I do.
Let me expound:
Over the last several weeks I've noticed a decided difference in the defensive play of Mr. BJ Upton, in that he suddenly feels that it is no longer necessary to run at full speed or cover anything more than a 20 foot radius in CF.
While the rest of his teammates are bustin' their tails for every win it seems that Bossman has lost his will to compete. I guess winning a couple of games entitles him to acting like he deserves to be on the roster- regardless of his obvious lack of effort.
Mr. Upton will jog over in the direction of a soft blooper to middle center and watch it drop then once he finally finishes his stroll over to the ball, that inevitably dropped 6 feet in front of him, he grabs it and proceeds to throw a blooping hailmary to the plate... everytime! Hey BJ, throw it to the cutoff man sometimes! Or here's a novel idea: hustle after the ball and maybe you could catch it and record an out- or at least catch a runner at third and not have to throw a looper to the plate because you reacted so slowly... everytime! Yeah-yeah we know, "You're sooo talented..." , blah, blah, blah... I've seen tons of below average players have amazing years (or even careers for that matter) because they put forth the effort that "superstars" are too good to bother with, and we've all seen "superstars" get sent packing because they were "too good" to be benched or told what to do....
Okay, slow down... I am not implying that I want Upton shipped out of town or DFA'd or anything silly like that, but I am lobbying for a stern talking-to from management and a few days on the pine to think about it.
In case you haven't noticed, BJ's numbers at the plate are down as well, so its not like he's countering his laze-fair defense with superb offense either (stay tuned, I may just present statistical evidence to support that).
Case and point: BJ's gotten lazy. Winning's coming easily, so there's no pressure. How fast our beloved Bossman has forgotten how life as a Devil Ray was, or how much winning meant to The Rays as recently as this May. I think the whole team has lost some intensity as of late, but the "good ones", like BJ, are supposed to learn how to keep winning not how to rest on their laurels.
Here's Upton's batting numbers at this point this year vs. last year:
YEAR AVG OBP SLG OPS HR
2007 .320 .402 .545 .947 9
2008 .284 .397 .424 .821 5
Don't get me wrong, I still love our little buddy BJ, but I'm getting tired of the nonchalant, lack-luster performances as of late. I honestly believe that he needs to be humbled a little, and I think the Pittsburgh series would be the perfect time.
Maddon could even spin it to the press that he's just giving BJ a "well-deserved rest"...
Well deserved, indeed!