The heart of a champion. A hard worker with a strange stance and a hell of an eye. Not to mention, he holds the Red Sox club record for number of times hit by a pitch (he was pelted eighty-six times). Additional details from the email I just got from RedSox.com:
“Youkilis, 33, has hit .233 with seven doubles, a triple, four home runs, 14 RBI and 25 runs in 42 games for the Red Sox this season. A three-time All-Star who was selected by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Youkilis owns a .287 career average with 239 doubles, 17 triples, 133 home runs, 564 RBI, 594 runs, 494 walks and 26 stolen bases in 953 career games with Boston. Youkilis won World Series titles with the club in 2004 and 2007, earned a Gold Glove in 2007 and was the 2008 AL recipient of the Hank Aaron Award.”
Yeah. I say thank you for that.
Watching his final at-bat today, I wanted to be at Fenway, on my feet and cheering for him. Youk’s long been my favorite player, and he went out today with style, hitting an RBI-triple and digging in for a great slide to third, proving once again his willingness to end the day covered in dirt.
I hate Bobby Valentine a little for the disrespectful comments, but that’s Bobby Valentine for you. He’s not one to watch what he says, and that makes him more fun to listen to than, I don’t know, say, Bill Belichick? But yeah — I wish he hadn’t made Youk his enemy.
Because Youk represents what the Red Sox are about. They’re a team that can be the best and the worst, all at the same time. Last year was an absolutely stellar season for the Red Sox, bookended by an atrocious beginning and an historically terrible collapse. People can focus on the fried chicken and beer stories all they want, but what I refuse to forget is that in between all the tragedy, they were unstoppable. A great player in a slump … man, that’s just Red Sox baseball to the core. The potential is always there, but every damned day it’s anything can happen day.
The club fought through the curse. But fight they had to. And that’s the hardest part: it’s stepping up to the plate with all the voices in your head and not giving up. Working hard, no matter what your average or your stats may be, no matter if you’re feeling cursed or not — that’s something I love to see in my Red Sox players, no matter how bad the season gets. And Youk had it in spades.
As for the new guy, Will Middlebrooks, whose blazing talent has sort of pushed Youk out of the lineup … I’m looking forward to watching him continue to light it up.
I just won’t forget Youk. Guy has the heart of a champion, and I’m sorry to see him go.