(AKA: Where Cyn complains about people who can’t get over Kevin Youkilis)
So the White Sox come to town for four games this week. This means two things: 1) the Red Sox are playing four games against a very good team and 2) We will be inundated with Kevin Youkilis praise, Bobby Valentine bashing and general hand wringing about the Youk trade. (Hmm…number two is actually three things…all in the same category for me, though.)
I’m not here to bash Youk. As a matter of fact, I thought his letter to Red Sox Nation was pretty damn good (if not a bit ghost-written) and he helped the team win two championships (one with more help from him than the other) so most of my Youk memories are good ones. But the fact remains that for reasons including his new manager being publicly critical of him, Youk never gelled with Bobby Valentine. Add to that the rise of Will Middlebrooks and the continued benching of Youk to put the hotter bat out there and his trade to the White Sox will ultimately be good for both parties. So many people who were advocating sitting the struggling Youkilis for the rookie Middlebrooks are the same folks who can’t understand why the Red Sox traded Youk.
The Red Sox traded Youk to a team with a better record, a great chance of being in the playoffs and who will play him every single day. Since being in Chicago he became the American League Player of the Week and could possibly be the AL Player of the Month if he keeps up what he’s doing. These two things tell me Kevin Youkilis is probably very happy right now. When he was in Boston he was obviously unhappy. If you’re a fan of his, you too should be happy that he has been traded to the Chicago White Sox. Which is why I don’t get why there are still Youk fans whining about how the team treated him.
The team saw a problem between Youk and Bobby and realized that there was no fixing it. Bobby Valentine admitted that he believed Youk never got over their rocky relationship to start the season (due to, in fairness to Youk, Bobby running his mouth to the media) and that coupled with Youk not playing well and then adding Middlebrooks actually playing great…the team made a decision to put Youk in a better situation and try to clear the air in Boston. No issues with who is playing third. No moving Adrian Gonzalez from first to the outfield to get Youk at-bats. The Youk trade was, to many, uneven. The Red Sox seemingly got ‘nothing’ (let’s just say ‘little’) for Youk. But, in all honesty, Youkilis hadn’t done anything this season (and for much of last) to get teams to want to jump on him. The Sox got what they could and put him in a good situation in the process while probably making the atmosphere in their own clubhouse much lighter .
Many folks are upset that Bobby Valentine spoke about Youk and of how he never got over that initial friction between them. I am not one of those folks. If we had heard that story from anonymous sources we’d be asking why someone wasn’t brave enough to put their name to the quotes. There is no denying Bobby V has chronic mouth diarrhea but in this case I think he has every right to verbalize what went on. People are so eager to find out what’s going on behind the scenes with the team and Bobby V gave us a glimpse. I was actually glad to read him speaking out. Whether or not you like it, Bobby Valentine is the manager of the Red Sox and Kevin Youkilis is a member of the White Sox. Valentine has no reason to fall on his sword in an effort to make Youk sound like the good soldier.
I have found it interesting that for the handful of “Good luck to him” or “I’ll miss him” sentiments the media got from some of his teammates, it really wasn’t overwhelming. Dustin Pedroia told the media that he ‘loved’ Youk and wished him well and then we never heard anything about it again from Pedey. David Ortiz sent a public goodbye message and then never spoke of it again. Heck, when Darnell McDonald got DFA’d, Jenny Dell interviewed Cody Ross about it on NESN and he was practically crying, talking about what an amazing teammate and person he was. Now, I’m not comparing Youk to DMac and I’m not saying everyone hates Youk…but I’m saying maybe it isn’t such a crazy idea to say that Youk was making things uncomfortable in the clubhouse and the Red Sox did something that would make things better for both Youk and the team.
I’ll be happy to see Kevin Youkilis back in Boston this week. The fans enjoy welcoming back the former players they really like (some idiot tried to start a “will they boo Youk at Fenway” issue…an issue which is non-existent I think…and many people on Twitter pointed out that, even if they did, no one would be able to tell the difference between boos and Youks) and I hope it’s cathartic for the Red Sox fans and the team. While I’m good with him doing well outside of Boston, I’m hoping he puts up giant goose eggs over these next four days so the fans can expend their energy supporting Will Middlebrooks and the rest of their team.
In reality, I’d like to see Middlebrooks go 4-4 in every game while Youk goes 0-4. If only to save Middlebrooks from the wrath of idiot fans at Fenway in the event he struggles. One misstep from Middlebrooks could bring out the boo-birds. People will think nothing of unfairly releasing their frustrations about this team on Middlebrooks if he struggles and Youk doesn’t. So while it isn’t very sportsmanlike, I’m hoping against hope that Youk absolutely tanks this entire series.
The team has come out of the All Star break with a 2-1 record and their schedule is just going to get more and more difficult. While I get people have their affinities for Youk, I hope they remember which team they’re supposed to be rooting for this week.