Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Comparison: Justin Upton as Buddy the Elf

With Christmas now only 6 days away, my wife and I decided that we should probably start watching a few holiday movies to make sure we were “Christmas-y” enough. That, and the fact that we literally have purchased eight different Christmas movies in the past few weeks and haven’t sat down to watch one yet.

 Is it our fault that Step Up: Revolution is exceedingly better than the Charlie Brown Christmas Special?

94 minutes later, the movie ended and I was thoroughly confused as to the mental make-up of Walter Hobbs. Was he the angriest man I had ever seen portrayed in a movie? Who takes books back from a nunnery when they haven’t had ample time to pay their bill? Even Bane had a soft spot for sad helpless children.

But there was a feeling that I just couldn’t shake. Where have I heard this story of Buddy the Elf before? Why did this feel like déjà vu? Then it clicked. Buddy the Elf has almost a parallel story line to the baseball career of Justin Upton. I HAVE seen this before! I have been watching it for almost five years now. But seriously, follow me closely. Even more closelier than you may think is possible. This is eerie.

Part 1: Buddy the Elf in the Minor Leagues

The movie starts out by showing the story of how Buddy came into the world of elves. As an insanely silent and agile baby, he sneaks out of his crib and into the bag of Santa who is creepily stalking around an orphanage. After the trip back to the North Pole, the baby jumps out, and instead of being a human being and taking the child back, since they even acknowledge that the baby came from a specific orphanage, they keep the baby and put him to work. Santa enjoys child labor. Buddy, grows up too quickly and eventually gets kicked out to go find his father. The elves point out that he is just too big and “special” to be a regular elf, though they also realize that he is terrible at actually making toys.

NOW, rewind back to 2007. The then 19 year old Justin Upton is just too big and too strong to stay in the minors. Scouts say that he has a “special” talent after being taken first overall in the 2005 draft. While many agree that he could use some more seasoning in the minors, he is kicked out to the big leagues to accomplish greater things.

Part 2: Buddy the Elf Gets Called Up to Real Life

Justin Upton’s first taste of the big leagues does not go smoothly. Eventually he plays in 43 games, gets 140 plate appearances, and bats a subpar .221 with only 2 home runs. The lowest point of the season comes when the Diamondbacks clinch a playoff spot and the television cameras show all of the players pouring beer on J-Ups head. He can’t drink because he is only 19. Sad day and even a sadder face on national television. 2008 doesn’t go much better for Justin. Appearing in 108 games that year, he still only bats .250 with 15 home runs. Definitely not the stats of someone who was taken first overall. Eventually, the Dbacks send Upton down to AAA for a few games to try and figure himself out.

Buddy the Elf takes a similar path in New York. After getting lost, being terrified of escalators, and getting hit by several aggressive taxi drivers, we all start to feel bad. Even his Dad doesn’t want to see his son, but who would after Buddy decides to get his own father some lingerie that causes some to question the movies PG rating. Shortly after Buddy somehow finds out where his brother’s school is (how in the hell does he know this?) and ruining a phone call in his Dad’s office (“Hello, this is Buddy the Elf”??? Do they have phones in Santa’s workshop???), Buddy is quickly demoted to the mail room to get his head back in the game.

Part 3: Buddy & Justin turn it Around

We then realize why Walter might not like having Buddy around…..he already has a son. While it is a son who is unusually small and prefers to eat dinner locked up in his bedroom, Walter already has a son that he continues to neglect. Why would he want another one?

And that is what people started to say around Major League Baseball. “We already have one underperforming Upton (BJ), why would we want two?”

Buddy though, like Justin, had other plans. Buddy decides, “I am much bigger, stronger, and more elf talented than my brother, so why not act like it?” Whether it was snow ball fighting, couch jump tree decorating, or spaghetti consuming, Buddy was quickly showing that he was better than his brother in every facet of everyday life.

Meanwhile, in 2009, things clicked for Justin Upton in the desert. Putting up gaudy numbers as a 21 year old, being voted an All Star, and receiving votes in the MVP race, Justin started to put his brother in the rear view mirror.

Part 4: Work Suit Buddy & The Real J-Up

Things are going great. Walter finally got Buddy out of his stupid elf costume and into proper business attire. Meanwhile, Buddy himself is no longer sneaking into the women’s restroom, but instead took a girl out on an actual date! Justin Upton is an MVP candidate and all is right in the world.

Then 2010 rolls along. Whether it was a nagging injury, or a lack of mental focus, Justin Upton tanks another season. Some see it as an issue of maturity, while others see 2009 as a fluke year.

Meanwhile across the nation, Buddy is spiraling out of control. A manager at Kohls files a restraining order against him followed by Buddy showing his discrimination against a vertically challenged children’s story book writer. Walter Hobbs screams at Buddy to get out of his life while Kevin Towers begins to call other GMs to see if they would be interested in traded for a disgruntled 22 year old.

Part 5: What Happens Now?

In the movie Buddy saves the day. Well really his girlfriend does when she gets random people to sing together and the movie ends. Even though there were some rough patches, Buddy the elf eventually has a baby with the girl friend and they take it to see his adopted elf father. All is right in the world and everyone believes in Santa again. Even though he may not be the extraordinary elf that everyone wanted him to be, he still turned out to be the hero of the North Pole.

2011 & 2012 are more of the same for Justin Upton. He quietly puts up decent numbers while facing those who say he is still not good enough. He leads Arizona to the playoffs in 2011, and then the blame is put on his shoulders when they miss in 2012. Maybe Justin Upton wasn’t supposed to be the next Pujols or Josh Hamilton, but he is still doing pretty well in the tier of superstars just below.


As abruptly as the movie Elf ended last night, and with as much effort as the writers put into bringing it all together, this ends my tale of two star crossed elf baseball players. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

As always, I wrote this as fast as humanly possible. If there are mistakes, errors, or simply a lack of mental coherence, just stop reading.