Kevin Youkilis: Even as a Diehard Boston Red Sox Fan, I Ain't Mad at Ya, Youk
Are there any other Red Sox fans out there that are actually thrilled beyond belief to see Kevin Youkilis performing so well in Chicago?
Seriously though, I am, and I hope that he continues to put up MVP-caliber numbers in the Windy City for the rest of the season.
I will admit that it is a bit painful to see such an adored fan favorite dominate in a new uniform after years of outright success that included two World Series championships and three All-Star appearances.
But there is no denying that it was simply Youk’s time to go.
Not only was he hitting an abysmal .233 with four home runs and 14 RBI in 42 games for the Sox this year, but it was painfully obvious to see just how miserable he was every time he stepped up to the plate this season.
Even though Bobby Valentine caught a lot of flak for what he said about Youk’s attitude back in April, perhaps he was right. Kevin Youkilis has not been himself in recent months, and even though he would never come out and say it publicly, Youk has been dying to ship out of Boston ever since the beginning of spring training.
The culture surrounding the ballclub at this point in time would be enough to make even the most intense athlete want to hang up his cleats just so he can escape the running joke that is Red Sox baseball.
Maybe Youk could have gutted it out a bit harder and played out the rest of his contract in Boston. But truth be told, I simply cannot blame him for playing with a bit of a sourpuss this season.
And any Sox fan who truly believes that it is solely Youk’s fault for the way things went down this season—which led to his ultimate departure from the team—must be completely oblivious to the firestorm that has been engulfing the world of Red Sox baseball for the past year or so.
The 2012 Boston Red Sox are not a baseball team. They are a traveling circus act that makes even the most devout Red Sox fan want to bury their head in the sand as each embarrassing storyline comes pouring out of the clubhouse at what seems like a pretty much daily rate now.
Instead of proudly proclaiming my undying allegiance to the team, as I have in years past, I now find myself embarrassed to even hint at the fact I am rooting for such a disgrace of a professional sports franchise.
This embarrassment does not even come from the fact that they are underperforming. After all, there are always going to be below-average baseball teams out there, and the Sox are actually only one game out in the race for the second Wild Card spot, as it stands today. So they really are not playing all that bad, but they are certainly not playing up to expectations.
Rather, it is the way they have carried themselves since their historic collapse last September that should truly boil the blood of the Red Sox Nation faithful.
Instead of using what happened last season as a way to ignite a fire in their bellies, the team has instead decided to whine and cry to the media about just how tough it is to play in The Bean. Even the face of the franchise, David Ortiz, seems only interested in securing a new contract and making that paper instead of trying to turn around one of the game’s most historic and beloved franchises.
This team is in a state of absolute chaos with no signs of changing, and I do not see how anybody could be happy playing for the ballclub as it currently stands.
It all starts at the top with the absolute sham of an ownership group that heads the team. John Henry and Larry Lucchino are much more interested in making sure their precious bottom line stays secure instead of making sure they are fielding a respectable baseball team.
Instead of thinking about what moves to make as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, they are probably focusing more on how to improve their fluffy programming on NESN or, perhaps even more sickening, how their overseas pet project, Liverpool FC, is doing in the world of soccer.
As I follow the team this season, it almost feels as though I have suddenly become involved with one of those awful soap operas that my mother watches. You know, the ones where you truly cannot even take the programming seriously any longer because of the incredibly over-the-top and dramatic plot lines that spew from the warped minds of those that create the show. Henry and Lucchino are the writers, and the 25 men that make up the current roster are simply the overpaid and underperforming actors.
Like sand through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives on Yawkey Way.
Trading away Youkilis was actually the first step in the right direction that this team has made since the end of last season. Unfortunately, more of the same still needs to be done.
As much as it may hurt to see the departure of players that Red Sox fans have become so accustomed to rooting for in recent years, it simply needs to happen, and happen fast. The Red Sox clubhouse has become such a hostile environment that even the most chipper of individuals would be turned into a monster after festering in its filth for so long.
Sorry to break it to you, but the beloved "Idiots" of 2004 are no longer here.
Actually, the team is still pretty much riddled with idiots, but not the ones that Red Sox Nation adored back in the earlier part of the decade.
Guys like Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Jon Lester and sadly, even Ortiz, have acted like spoiled rich kids who simply don't know how to handle themselves once nobody is coddling them and enabling their disgusting behavior anymore. In fact, it's become so bad with certain players that I think I would trade Beckett and Lackey for a bag of Big League Chew at this point—no joke.
So here's to you, Youk. I have to say that I am nothing but happy to see such a great player that I've always looked up to be able to escape such an awful situation. You didn't deserve the criticism that you got here recently, and I will always remember you for what you've been able to accomplish for the team rather than for the way it all ended.
And it will be just desserts for your former ballclub as they watch you and your new team charge into the playoffs as they most likely fall into mediocrity before the stretch run even begins.
Thanks for everything, Youk, and I hope this article helps to absolve you from most of the unwarranted blame that has been thrown your way this season. Even after all that's happened recently, like Tupac once said: "I ain't mad at ya."
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