I didn’t write about Youk yesterday (or this morning) because, frankly, I didn’t want to write from a place of high emotions. I’ve been in denial about Youk possibly getting traded because for a long time I just couldn’t see how it could benefit the team unless they got someone really good for him. Well, the trade went through and it would be a complete misstatement to say they got anyone REALLY good for him (at least right now) and yet I’ve accepted it. One of the local scribes tweeted that Youk looked like the happiest man in the world at his first press conference as a White Sox player. That for me sealed it. For whatever reasons, be they Bobby Valentine or Will Middlebrooks or just Kevin Youkilis himself, he’s happier where he is than where he was and I have to respect that.
My feelings are different from others in the case of Youk. I’ll admit to getting teary-eyed when he hugged Nick Punto as Punto took over for him at third base yesterday. I was downright stunned when he was blowing kisses to the fans as he left the field. Seeing him hug Pedroia at the dugout and then watching Bobby Valentine tell him to go take a curtain call…when it hit me that it was all real and Youk was going to leave, I cried. I bet I cried for a good ten minutes. Then I was done.
Youk, as another friend put it today, was never one of my guys. Heck, because all of my guys either were traded, got DFA’d or retired, I bought his jersey by default (I do have a Papi jersey…American League All Star jersey…but Youk’s is was the only current Sox player whose Red Sox jersey I owned). Not by default, exactly, almost ironically. It was BECAUSE I was never a big Youkilis fan that I thought if I bought his jersey (a knock-off that, if I remember correctly, only cost me about $25 on eBay) maybe it would help change my feelings about him. I don’t know that it was the jersey but eventually (probably around 2009 or 2010) he won me over. I didn’t “love” him but I liked him a lot and that was a lot more than I used to say about him.
Let’s go back to 2008, shall we? I’ll post what I wrote here in full:
So Youk decides to open up his hairy trap about the Celtics winning the Championship. (Can you tell this is going to be a rant?)
Here’s what he had to say:
“Boston is lucky right now,” said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. “We just hope finally one day the fans will realize how special it is. There should be such a positive overtone in this city, because there’s so much going on. We still see on a daily basis, there’s a lot of negative. It just doesn’t make sense. You need to realize how lucky you are to have championship teams and teams that compete and go to the playoffs.
“I think the fans need to realize that there’s no more suffering in Boston. If they want to see some suffering, they should go to Cincinnati and watch my Bengals.”
I’m sorry? Excuse me? Are you fucking shitting me, Youk? “‘WE’ just hope finally one day the fans will realize how special it is”? Are you stupid or just high?
A little background before I go on. Back in 2006, when the Sox were sucking and Julian Tavarez was leading the charge, some of the fans at Fenway gave him (Tavarez) a hard time. I’m not a fan of booing your own guys and don’t do it and hated that folks were doing it. That’s not to say I didn’t understand it. This is what Youk had to say about Tavarez’ decision to not tip his cap to the crowd the first night he pitched a truly good game (that I happened to be at):
“He had no reason to tip his hat to them, they’ve treated him bad all year,” said Youkilis. “I was watching him every step and was saying to Mark, ‘Please do not tip your cap.’ That’s how I felt, for him. I was mad for him, because if he tips his cap here, he’s giving in. And that’s what the fans do, they give in.”
Now I used to post on a message board that invokes Youk’s name. And, on occasion, he posts there. Back in 2006, when I posted there complaining that he was being unfair to the fans (because many of us had NEVER booed Tavarez and we deserved better), he responded (interestingly enough…his responses have since disappeared from the board). Our back and forth on the message board turned into his privately emailing me (remember, this is back in September of 2006) to “clear things up” and tell me that I was misinterpreting his feelings about the fans. His argument was weak, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt since he took the time to email me.
Two years and another World Championship later and nothing has changed.
I challenge Kevin, or any other player, to email me or post comments here with proof of this negativity of which he speaks.
In 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series, people were visiting cemeteries with copies of the Globe and the Herald. Most people I know cried more than they cheered, just from the sheer happiness of what was happening. Last night I was online with a group of friends who did nothing but talk about how special the Celtics win was, especially for the players.
The Boston fans realize how fortunate they are Youk. Do YOU? Do YOU have any idea how lucky you are to have already been on TWO World Championship teams – one being during your rookie year? Do YOU have any idea how lucky you are to play in a town where the fans pretty much ignore things like your getting into a fight with Manny in the dugout? The media tried to beat you up about it, but the fans weren’t having any of it. Do YOU have any idea how lucky you are to play in a park that gets sold out every night, no matter how the team is playing? (See 2006) Why not ask your pal Bronson Arroyo about THAT one?
Of all the arrogant, ignorant, offensive things to pull the day after the Celts win and the fans are feeling good, this has to take the cake.
You horse’s ass. I hope someday that YOU can appreciate how blessed you’ve been since you came into the league. Because the shit you occasionally spout about the fans would get you booed nightly in any other market.
That he was still talking trash about the fans after two Red Sox championships STILL boils my blood. But to rant about that again would be pointless. I bolded that last part for the purpose of this entry. Because, it seems, that someday was yesterday and that Youk did appreciated how ‘blessed’ he’s been since he came into the league. Youk had nothing but good things to say about the Boston fans and it’s good to know that he knows what he meant to the fans.
But that entry above is why it’s difficult for me to write about Youk in more than 140 character increments right now. Because if I said that I’m devastated that he’s gone, well, I’d be lying. As emotional as yesterday was, it was a moment in time and, quite frankly, I’m over it. Many have compared Youk being traded to 2004 with Nomar. Nomar was traded before a game on a Saturday afternoon. I remember watching the game (against the Minnesota Twins IN Minnesota) through tears and I remember that Sunday putting on the Cubs game and seeing Nomar for the first time NOT in a Red Sox uniform and crying again. When I saw the photo of Youk in his White Sox uniform today my first thought was “It isn’t as flattering as the Red Sox uniform” and that was it. No pangs of wanting. No tears. Nothing but hoping he gets to wear the black jersey more often than the grey and hoping he had a good first game with the White Sox.
I’ll miss Youk in the sentimental “He was here in 2004 and 2007 and if it were up to me we’d still have all those guys” kind of way. (Okay, I’ll miss “Youuuuuk” at the park and hearing Biz Markie when Youk was up at bat too.) But I’m, to some oddly, good with this trade. It seems to be what the team and Youk wanted and while it’s hard to say goodbye to one of the veterans of the team, I feel like he’s in a good place and the Red Sox can maybe settle in now.
I wish Youk lots of luck in Chicago and wherever else he might end up. I’m pleased that the Red Sox and their fans were able to give him the sendoff he deserved and I’m sure when he’s back at Fenway in July he’ll get ovation after amazing ovation.
Goodbye, Youk. It was never boring while you were here. I hope the fans in Chicago give you at least half the love the Red Sox fans did…and I hope you have the opportunity to show them why you deserve it.