Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kevin Youkilis As A Yankee My POV

I've had a few weeks now to sit back and think about how former Boston Red Sox (and briefly Chicago White Sox) third baseman is a member of the 2013 New York Yankees. I sat silent during the early questions of how Youkilis will play alongside his headhunting nemesis Joba Chamberlain, I raised an eyebrow in amusement with Youkilis' "I'll always be a Red Sox" comment and rolled my eyes with the inevitable public backlash and moaning by many Yankee fans. So what do I think as a Yankee fan? Before I go into that, allow me to elaborate on a little background information.

Since this is a new blog, allow me to let you know where my allegiance lay. I am a lifelong Yankee fan. Born and raised in New York City, I have rooted for the Yankees since the Bronx Zoo years of the mid to late 1970's through the non-playoff years of 1982-1993 and now the latest string of playoffs and World Series teams. Unlike some Yankee fans who jumped on the bandwagon in the Joe Torre era, I remember spending time in the old stadium while it was 3/4 empty watching players like Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Steve "Bye Bye" Balboni, Rickey Henderson, Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti. I'm also not the kind of fan who only knows the players on his team and only those players. I pride myself as being well rounded with my Baseball knowledge. I am not a "homer" as my friend Pete would describe. So given that, here goes with my perspective on Youkilis.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
I've always thought that Youkilis was something of a whiner. Something about his personality irked me. It is also weird to see him without his distinctive goat-tee. This clean cut Youkilis will take some getting used to. Given that, I've always said that for as much as I couldn't stand him, he is the kind of player that I would take on my team in a heartbeat. The dude is a scrapper. I really believe that the Yankees have been missing that element on their teams since Paul O'Neill retired after the 2001 season. I said so after last year's playoff debacle where all these guys just kept striking out and coolly walking back to the dugout. There was no emotion. There was no fire. I want to see a player pissed off when he strikes out. I want to see a player take it to the cooler every once in a while. I know some Yankee fans say that this is Derek Jeter's team and certain things are expected of players to do things as Jeter would. That's ridiculous. Everyone is different. If you're pissed off with your performance, let it show like Paul O'Neill used to do. I believe that Youkilis will bring this mentality and lacking aspect back to the team.

I do admire his get down and dirty mentality to the game. Youkilis can play first, third, DH and even outfielder if needed. The guy is in the game from the first pitch to the last. You can't ask for more than that. In terms of his situation with Chamberlain, those guys don't have to like each other. They just need to play together and keep whatever issues they have outside of the team. With Youkilis saying that he'll forever be a Red Sox? What's wrong with that. As I told a few patrons at the bar (I'm a bartender and bar mananger in my non Baseball writing hours) I respect the fact that he said that, rather then trying to play to the home crowd. Honesty in this town is the best policy. That already separates him from lets say Alex Rodriguez who always seems to try and say the correct things to please everyone. In life, that is impossible. Same as with Baseball. Sure Youkilis added in a later interview that he was proud to wear the pinstripes and that he was here to do his job because of the heat he took (I believe unfairly) but you can't fault the man for his honesty.

Realize that he was traded from Boston, the team he came up with. He didn't leave as a free agent after playing with them and a number of other teams. This is a business. Not everyone can be like Jackie Robinson, choosing to retire rather than playing for the rival Giants. An offer of $12 million dollars is hard not to take, even if it comes from the Evil Empire especially when redemption is the name of the game. I believe Youkilis has something to prove not only to the game but also to himself. His trade from Boston to Chicago went down as a bitter pill. I believe that this will propel him to have an amazing season if he can stay healthy.

A little public disclosure here. Unlike other Yankees fans, I don't hate the Red Sox. That might be my older self talking here. At the age of 40, I'm past the point of "Hating" professional teams (maybe I can reserve a little hate for the Miami Marlins primarily their owner Jeffrey Loria). Unlike other Yankee fans who believe that the Red Sox "suck", I believe that the rivalry is better represented when both teams don't "suck". Where is the fun when the Yankees beat Boston when they aren't at their best. You want Boston to be at the top of their game so you (as a fan) know that your team beat them when they were at their best. Though I do have to admit that I slyly reveled in guilty pleasure mode when the Yankees put a 14-2 shellacking on the Red Sox on the last game of the season while I was in attendance celebrating my 40th birthday.

I believe that Kevin Youkilis will do just fine here in New York. He's not the first former Red Sox to play for the Yankees. The list is chock full of names like Luis Tiant, Bob Stanley, Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon and a guy who went by the name of Babe Ruth. I'm sure Youkilis will play as hard here in New York as he did in Boston. Hopefully he can drive in some important runs while up in Fenway to stick it to the Nation. At least that's all we can hope for.

What do you gals and guys think.

Sisco Kid.

- Click here to access Kevin Youkilis' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access the entire list of players that have played for both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees from Baseball Reference.com