Skip to content

Youk As Yank: Just kind of weird

Feb 26, 2013, 11:52 AM EDT

New York Yankees infielder Youkilis takes batting practice during a workout at the team's MLB spring training complex at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. AP

Hey, it’s my first post on Hardball Talk. Very exciting. I still cannot believe that Calcaterra and Gleeman didn’t save the “Jeff Francoeur is in the best shape of his life” post for me.

Kevin Youkilis plays for the New York Yankees now. I’m not typing those words as a fact. I’m typing those words to remind myself — kind of like that guy in Memento, who would tattoo integral facts on his body because he had no short term memory. Every few seconds, it seems, I forget all about Youkilis, and then some story or Tweet will cross my consciousness, and I’ll think, “Wait, what, Kevin Youkilis plays for the Yenkees now?”

I’m not quite sure why the Youkilis thing throws me.* I feel like I’ve largely grown numb to the temperamental and capricious ways of sports free agency. It really didn’t take me too long to get used to Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform or Albert Pujols in an Angels uniform or even LeBron James in a Miami uniform. Josh Hamilton as an Angel? Got it down already.

*What Youkilis thing? Let me read back … wait, what, Kevin Youkilis plays for the Yankees now?

So this Youk as Yank thing shouldn’t be that hard to get used to. If we all could get used to Michael Jordan in a Washington uniform and Jerry Rice in a Raiders uniform and Greg Maddux in a Dodgers uniform and, heck, Wade Boggs in a Yankees uniform, there seem no real boundaries left. But for some crazy reason, Youkilis in a Yankees uniform just doesn’t quite compute for me. It isn’t that I have any personal connection to Youkilis. It isn’t that I could only see him in a Red Sox uniform — heck, I didn’t see any real incongruity when he played for the White Sox last year.

But for some reason Kevin Youkilis playing for the Yankees — wait, what, Kevin Youkilis plays for the Yankees now? — just triggers that cable TV “recording conflict” fiber in my brain.

It has me thinking about the most incongruous unharmonious players and uniforms in sports history. Here are 10 of them.

– John Unitas playing for the San Diego Chargers. This is probably the most famous clash between player and uniform — Unitas in 1973 played for the Chargers. He was 40 years old. He started four games completed 44.7% of his passes, threw seven interceptions against three touchdown passes. It was a sad ending, but in another way it wasn’t. He went out on his own terms. Anyway, endings are supposed to be sad.

– Wayne Gretzky playing for the St. Louis Blues. Gretzky playing for the New York Rangers was strange enough. But for 18 games, he played for the Blues and that’s just weird.

– Babe Ruth playing for the Boston Braves. He hit .181 in 28 games as a publicity stunt. He did hit six home runs in 92 at-bats — so he was still on pace to hit hit 40 home runs over a full season. But he did not hit a double or triple, he was just an old ballplayer swinging for the fences and trying to give the fans one more thrill.

– Rickey Henderson playing for the Seattle Mariners. I know Rickey played for nine different clubs in his astounding career — and that doesn’t even include the Independent League teams — so it seems silly to say that you could not imagine Rickey in a certain uniform. But Rickey’s brief Seattle sojourn completely skipped my memory.

– Emmitt Smith with the Arizona Cardinals. He was there for two seasons, and a big deal was made about it, but I never really got used to it.

– Tony Dorsett with the Denver Broncos. That was just strange … he wasn’t bad for the Broncos. He ran for 703 yards in fairly limited play and scored five touchdowns. It was still strange.

– Karl Malone with the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember that little experiment intended to get the Mailman his championship ring? He was 40, he played in 42 games, and he scored 13 or so a game. The Lakers reached the finals, but lost to Detroit in five.

– Patrick Ewing with the Orlando Magic. Ugh.

– Bill Russell with the San Diego Rockets. I was shocked to find out that … no, I’m kidding, this never happened.

– Pete Rose with the Montreal Expos. He got his 4,000th hit with the Expos, so you can still see photographs of Rose in an Expos uniform. He will sign these photographs, if you like. It still doesn’t look right.

– Reggie Jackson with the Oakland A’s. Like with Rickey, it’s pretty easy to imagine Jackson in just about any uniform. But the Jackson-Oakland combination doesn’t really make much sense to my mind. (Editor’s note: I meant to say “Reggie Jackson with the Baltimore Orioles,” here, but for some reason got Oakland stuck in my head. Regular readers know: I do that sometimes. I guess Reggie Jackson with Baltimore seems SO weird to me I couldn’t even type the words).

Latest Posts
  1. Tigers acquire closer Joakim Soria from the Rangers

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    joakim soria getty Getty Images

    Kyle Bogenschutz of Scout.com and Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket reports that the Tigers have acquired reliever Joakim Soria from the Rangers for pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi says the deal is only pending physical exams.

  2. Theo Epstein on Cardinals’ competitive balance pick: “Last organization that needs an annual gift”

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT

    theo epstein getty Getty Images

    As we covered earlier, St. Louis got a bonus pick for the 2015 First-Year Player Draft (just after the first round) in Wednesday’s Competitive Balance Lottery. And it’s not sitting too well with an executive of the Cardinals’ traditional rival — Cubs president Theo Epstein.

  3. Video: Yadier Molina leaves peanut butter crackers at home plate for his older brother Jose

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:58 PM EDT

    yadier molina getty Getty Images

    Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who’s currently rehabbing from thumb surgery, sent a couple packs of crackers to home plate Wednesday for his older brother Jose.

  4. Phillies officials “have contemplated the possibility of paying off” and releasing Ryan Howard

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    ryan howard getty Getty Images

    CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury has heard from sources that the Phillies are considering cutting ties with struggling first baseman Ryan Howard after this season, despite the fact that he’s owed $60 million in guaranteed money.

  5. Pirates place Starling Marte on concussion disabled list

    Jul 23, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT

    marte getty Getty Images

    Pirates outfielder Starling Marte took a pitch off his helmet last Friday night. A concussion was initially ruled out — the Bucs were instead calling it “head trauma” — but now there’s this …

  6. Cardinals move Shelby Miller back into rotation and Carlos Martinez back to the bullpen

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    shelby miller getty Getty Images

    As first reported by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals have decided to move Shelby Miller back into the starting rotation and Carlos Martinez to the bullpen for their upcoming three-game series at Wrigley Field. Miller will start Saturday afternoon against the Cubs.

  7. Pitchers who leave the Diamondbacks get better. Pitchers they acquire get worse.

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:33 PM EDT

    diamondbacks logo small

    Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has some enlightening numbers about what’s gone wrong with the Diamondbacks.

  8. Quadriceps injury shuts down Astros rookie slugger George Springer

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    George Springer George Springer

    Springer got off to a slow start following his mid-April call-up and his strikeout total leads the league, but he’s smacked 20 homers with a .900 OPS in 61 games since early May to rank as one of the league’s better all-around players during that span.

  9. Twins designate Matt Guerrier for assignment

    Jul 23, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    matt-guerrier-twins Getty Images

    Matt Guerrier began this week with a nice-looking 2.67 ERA in 26 appearances for the Twins, but a 12/8 K/BB ratio in 27 innings showed that he was anything but impressive.

  10. Carlos Ruiz rejoins Phillies after concussion

    Jul 23, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Carlos Ruiz Carlos Ruiz

    Ruiz hit poorly on a minor-league rehab assignment at Single-A, going 3-for-17 (.176) with three strikeouts and one walk in five games, but he’s avoided any post-concussion symptoms and the Phillies are convinced he’s ready to return.

  11. Cameron Maybin suspended for 25 games for amphetamines

    Jul 23, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT

    cameron maybin getty Getty Images

    I’m guessing this is not a prank by the Padres minor leaguers.

  12. Kelly Johnson goes on Yankees’ disabled list with groin injury

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT

    Kelly Johnson Yankees Getty Images

    Kelly Johnson isn’t as needed in the Yankees’ lineup following the trade for Chase Headley and now he won’t be available at all for a while, as the utility man has been placed on the disabled list with a strained groin.

  13. Nationals place Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT

    Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals

    As expected Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been placed on the disabled list after injuring his hamstring during last night’s game.

  14. The dizzying intellect of Tom Glavine

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

    Braves v Yankees X Getty Images

    Tom Glavine crafted his Hall of Fame career with plenty of skill and wit.

  15. Jeff Francoeur, now an outfielder/pitcher, gets call up to Padres

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

    jeff francoeur getty Getty Images

    After back-to-back terrible seasons Jeff Francoeur’s chances of returning to the majors looked so bleak that last month he decided to take up pitching at Triple-A for the Padres’ affiliate, but now San Diego is actually calling him up and presumably he’ll mostly serve as an outfielder.

Featured video

Teams searching for trade deadline impact
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3816)
  2. C. Lee (2813)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (2684)
  4. H. Ramirez (2684)
  5. C. Headley (2551)
  1. Y. Puig (2540)
  2. B. Belt (2395)
  3. T. Walker (2130)
  4. D. Uggla (2053)
  5. A. Rios (2034)