Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Boo Youk?

Kevin Youkilis and the New York Yankees have agreed on a one-year, $12 million deal.  Youk passed up two years/$18 million to head to Cleveland (and back to former Red Sox manager Terry Francona) to sign with the Bronx Bombers for one year - but a better chance at postseason play.

Kevin Youkilis hasn't played for Boston since June, but before he was traded to the White Sox he had played 953 games for the Red Sox over nine seasons, starting in the legendary 2004 season.  Youk gained fame with the publication of the book Moneyball which reported he was coveted by the obsessive A's GM Billy Beane, who had dubbed the then-minor leaguer "The Greek God of Walks."

Youkilis is Jewish, not Greek, but his on-base percentage was as advertised, and his power numbers consistently improved over his first few seasons in Boston until he was less of an on-base machine and more of a homerun-threat who could work the count.

In 2008, Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP Award, but there were many who felt that Youk had outshone Pedey on the field - Youkilis finished third in voting for the award.

When Youk was dealt to Chicago this summer, I was pretty bummed. I wore my Kevin Youkilis shirt the day after the trade, because Youk has been among my favorite players for a long time, and I swore to always root for him.

And now, after that brief stint with the White Sox, Youkilis will head back east to the Evil Empire.  I've often said that Kevin Youkilis is the kind of player that you love having on your team, but find unbearable when he plays for your opponent. The way he takes every pitch personally is endearing when he's on your side, but exasperating otherwise - even teammate and enigma Manny Ramirez thought Youk often went too far, leading to a dugout altercation in 2008.  Personally, I'll be rooting for him to do well in New York - even as I hope the Yankees lose as often as possible.

Will Red Sox fans boo Kevin Youkilis when he returns to Fenway Park in pinstripes on Friday, July 19th? Even if they do decide to boo, will he even be able to tell the difference between such noises of derision and the admiring "YOUUUUKKKKK" he always heard when heading to the plate?

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