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The contradiction that is Kevin Youkilis

Oct 8, 2009, 8:56 AM EDT

Usually when a guy is described as a gritty, intense gamer, you can count on him being (a) universally loved by his teammates; and (b) not that good a player, actually (see, Eckstein, David). Kevin Youkilis, on the other hand, is the rarest of things: a gritty, MVP-quality player who, surprising to me at least, has some teammates who aren’t real fans.

This last bit of info comes in the course of an excellent profile of Youk in the Boston Globe.  We all know he’s an outstanding player who plays hard so I’ll skip the MVP and grit talk and focus on the unexpected bit:

So why, then, is this Everyman not unequivocally embraced and revered by his teammates? Why, when a reporter approaches another key Red Sox player to speak about Youkilis does he respond, “I’d rather refrain”? . . . “At one point some of the veterans came up to me and said, ‘Can you talk to this guy?’ ” manager Terry Francona said.

This isn’t a gossip piece, though, and Globe writer Jackie MacMullan does a great job of explaining the reasons why Youkilis, though seemingly universally respected, often rubs his teammates the wrong way.  To his credit, Youkilis doesn’t back away from any of it, explaining his dustup with Manny Ramirez a few years ago and trying his best to make the reader understand the unique circumstances of a guy who, while not as gifted as your typical superstar, has nonetheless managed to become one.

And that seems to be the nub of the problem, such as it is: Youkilis doesn’t fit neatly into that gifted/hard worker dichotomy with which most of us — and most ballplayers, in all likelihood — are familiar.  They probably tolerate lesser players beating up trash cans more than stars, because the lesser players aren’t expected to lead and set the tone like stars are.  Youk is an uncomfortable mix of the two and thus problems are likely to arise.

I’ll admit that I’m no Sox fan, and I can pretty much take or leave Youk, but this article casts a new enough light on both him and the team that I’ll be watching tonight’s Sox-Angels game with a bit more interest than I might have otherwise.

  1. T.J. from Jersey - Oct 8, 2009 at 7:22 PM


  2. virginia breeze - Oct 8, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Youk is the best, a role model for excellence. Of course he didn’t put up with Manny. He had the…..well shall we say….resolve to stand up to the disrespect that Manny presented. What a bunch of crock that Youk isn’t liked and respected.. Who are you anyway to spread this inaccurate information? Don’t you have anything else to do with your time? Youk, pay no attention to this distraction! We love you and the passion and excellence that you bring to the game!

  3. TSUNAMI - Oct 8, 2009 at 8:56 PM

    LOL.. now that is funny…
    I get it… exactly the oposite than reality is humorous.
    Get rid of the cancer before it spreads… no matter where it lies.

  4. Carrie - Oct 8, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    Youkilis is a baseball player, he is not a sell out who goes to highest bidder for a bigger payoff. I am not sure where the author got his info from, every time I see the team interacting on the field, after a win or a loss, they look like real teammates who stick together through good and bad times, and that includes Youk…either way as a Red Sox fan – I want Youk on my team…
    And Ron you are a classless loser. I know lots of yankee fans and they are not like you…sadly the ones like you get the stage more than you should, and you make all the other ones look bad too…your a low life clown…asking if Pedroia is a child molester…yeah like I said CLASSLESS!
    Go RED SOX!

  5. jeff - Oct 8, 2009 at 9:32 PM

    u’r an idiot!

  6. Steve - Oct 8, 2009 at 9:34 PM

    Like him or not, Youk is a big reason the Sox are where they are. Go Sox.

  7. jeff - Oct 8, 2009 at 9:35 PM

    throwing a ball at a guy’s head has way less class. i imagine you would get upset too.

  8. jerry pritikin - Oct 8, 2009 at 11:34 PM

    My mother used to say… “if you can’t say anything nice about a person… then don’t say anything”. However, it’s now the 21st century… and to those who can’t say anything nice about a teammate… should shut-up or change teams. Grant you, that YUK only hit .305 and makes few errors, and takes a walk, or gets hit by a pitch often, is the kind of guy anybody with brains would want to play on the same team. However… to the scribe who reports this kind of B.S., is the kind that Ted Williams hated… and so do I! I judge a ballplayer, on and off the field for Sportsmanship… and for that… I would give Kevin the M.V.P. MOST VALUABLE PROFESSIONAL AWARD, because he earned it. The “Bleacher Preacher”

  9. CJ Maderios - Oct 9, 2009 at 6:03 AM

    PLayers like Manny, lazy assholes who name left field after themselves?

  10. Lisa Ida - Oct 9, 2009 at 7:09 AM

    I was thinking the same thing…Right off the BAT!

  11. Lisa - Oct 9, 2009 at 7:22 AM

    Ron! Shut UP!

  12. Bruce - Oct 9, 2009 at 10:33 PM

    I am amazed and astonished at the number of American sports fans who can’t spell, can’t string a simple sentence together, and who are otherwise so rabid about their team as to be almost incoherent in expressing themselves.

  13. free laptops - Jan 16, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Nice site to visit! I admire your writing and the way you explain things. Some of the comments on here too are insightful. I appreciate you. keep it up!

  14. matt nathanson fan - Jan 24, 2010 at 4:01 AM

    This was interesting.

  15. Lawrence Damron - Mar 7, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    You post definitely was one of the greatest points of my Sunday. I had been on Aol trying to find something totally not related when your title captured my interest. So i am glad I spent the time to read your article! Feel free to check out my news sports articles if you get some free time!

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