Once again, the calendar has flipped it's page to Saturday and it's time for a game of sorts. It's called Questions and
Answers More Questions. A game where there are no answers, just more questions!
While the Rays community is gearing up for Spring Training in Florida, I'm sitting at home in New Orleans listening to the dull roar of a parade out my window. Just like the seemingly endless baseball off-season, the Mardi Gras season has been almost eternal this year. Somehow, the parades are just beginning to roll, but I've been eating King Cake for the last two months.
Gee Whiz, why is this New Orleans scab talking about Mardi Gras when I want to hear about the Rays Spring Training schedule? Well, just as we baseball fans go a bit crazy in the twilight of the off-season, so do we New Orleanians get a little batty when we've been riding a two month sugar high waiting for some damned beads to come our way.
Since I don't much pay attention to the sport of the Dribbling Divas, January and February are the deadest of the dead months, the time where the mind wanders from the past to the future with no regard for the present. This year, thoughts of Rays and my New Orleans Saints merged and I was left pondering the similarities between those "full-o-potential" darlings, B.J. Upton and Reggie Bush.
Are B.J. Upton and Reggie Bush similar?
Both taken with the number two overall pick in their respective drafts, Upton and Bush came into their leagues with considerable "hype," and, if you listen to the National Media Machine, they've both failed to deliver on that promise of perennial superstardom. Despite their teams winning Super Bowls and American League Pennants, they are seen as disappointments. Yes, this has something to do with expectations, but I'm not immediately concerned with the broad strokes of the national media, I'm more interested with the varied opinions of the local fanbase.
Are they viewed in a similar fashion by their respective fanbases?
Not being from Tampa, the extent of my Rays news comes from the internet. I can read The Heater online and find out how Upton is doing in spring training or his struggles playing videogames with David Price, but that won't even begin to give me a feel for the local zeitgeist. Similarly, those of you who live outside of New Orleans can read the Times-Picayune online and get the Cliffs Notes on Reggie Bush's uncertain future, but that won't tell you how Reggie is truly viewed here.
These publications will get you closer to the feelings of "the people," but they won't get you to the core beliefs of the fanbase.
Where could one go for those? Perhaps the message boards of these valued publications?
Let's cherry-pick one post from each:
So much money spent on this bum. I hope he tries this year
can we send him to train with wolves or ninjas or something????
will he ever reach his potential?
Or does he only exist so that i can talk him up only to be let down when he doenst come through???
Just like that new Chris Archer or Dali Lama game, this one is pretty easy if you think about it (feel free to guess in the comments), but the similarity between the two is the real point.
There's an inkling of truth in these hyperbolized comments, but that rarely comes out on a message board as, inevitably, the poster will be reminded to "mind his own business," then someone will claim another is "a bundle of sticks or twigs," and then the flame war begins.
How do I view Reggie Bush and B.J. Upton?
I was excited like a schoolgirl when Reggie Bush seemingly fell into the Saints' laps in the 2006 draft. I, like many others, was excited by the flashes of speed and the suddenness of cuts. Sometimes I watch through my fingers as Bush returns a punt. While many New Orleanians can be heard yelling, "Stop running backwards, Reggie!" there is a general acceptance of the player Bush has become rather than an outright disappointment that he has not developed into the player everyone thought he would be. Many fans understand that regardless of the hard stats, the New Orleans Saints are a better team with Reggie Bush on it.
I tend to think the same thing about Upton. I watch with glee as he glides to and hauls in a deep shot to the track. I facepalm when he takes that low outside pitch for a called third strike. I believe that Upton is more valuable to the Rays than his stats may ever prove.
Is that how Upton is viewed by the local fanbase?
I'd like to think so, but I truly don't know. Maybe you locals can help me out here.
As an 'outsider' can I ever truly relate to the general perceptions of local Tampa Fans?
And this rather large and ambiguous query will conclude this round of Questions and More Questions!
Feel free to continue asking away in the comments. Possible topics include: Can we gain an understanding of other fanbases by comparing like players? Is BJ Upton in anyway similar to Alex Gordon? To Jeff Gordon? Might the author have slipped into a King Cake-induced diabetic coma after the third paragraph and have written the rest of this piece using pure muscle memory?