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I Can't Defend BJ Anymore

I've been patient, waiting for the attitude to catch up to the talent. I've defended BJ Upton on more than one occasion to doubters. I wanted him to succeed with the Rays. I believed we needed him to succeed. No more.

Not after Sunday. No more excuses. No more justifying the lapses by highlighting the spectacular. No more dismissing what looks like a lack of a hustle as some kind of optical illusion ("it just looks like he's not running fast because he takes such long strides!"). To loaf halfheartedly after a ball in the outfield and turn a double into a triple in a game you eventually lose by one run is inexcusable. It's the kind of thing you see from some scrub on a fourth place team in late September, not from the starting center fielder of a contending team in June.

I'm glad Longo said something to him in the dugout. It shows the team hasn't quit. And I guess I'm glad that BJ reacted to it the way he did because it shows that on some level, to some degree, he cares too. But we need to see that from him on the field, not in the dugout.

I'm not giving up on him. I still believe the Rays with a productive, engaged BJ Upton are a better team than they would be without him, but I'm done defending him. If it looks like a dog ...

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.