Kevin Youkilis made his first appearance as a New York Yankee yesterday at George M. Steinbrenner field in Tampa, Florida. Youkilis, known for his dirty looking goatee, came out all nice and clean shaven, and to be honest, it was a pretty terrifying sight. I don’t know what screams “Get into my car” more than the face of Kevin Youkilis right about now.
But anyway, Youkilis made some interesting comments yesterday, ones that made some Yankees fans on social media all upset. I, for one, am not happy we signed Youkilis aka Kevin Pukeilis. While we do need a third baseman with Alex Rodriguez out, I would have rather signed anybody else. I can’t believe I have to watch that hideous batting stance for 162 games. Unlike Johnny Damon, who seemed to embrace being a Yankee, Youkilis is coming in here acting like this was his only option, and he had no other choice. Lets look at some of his quotes taken from an ESPN article written by Wallace Matthews.
“I’ll always be a Red Sock,” Youkilis said. “To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox, and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house and to say I’d just throw it out the window, it’s not true.”
Well very good Youk! No one is going to remember you as a Yankee, of course you will be remembered as a Red Sock, you were on both Red Sox championship teams! Damon played four years here, and happened to win a World Series with the Yankees (how cool is it to say you have both a Red Sox and Yankees World Series ring? Not many people can say that!). While Damon will still be mostly remembered as a Boston “Idiot” (and rightfully so), many Yankee fans will remember Damon as a Yankee as well. Damon provided great lead off hitting and was a great presence in the locker room. If the Yankees don’t win the World Series this year, Youkilis will be kicked to the curb and he can go back to collecting his Boston memorabilia.
“I don’t think you look at it like that,” Youkilis said. “You can’t be thinking about shoes to fill, because I’ll never be Alex Rodriguez. I mean, Alex Rodriguez is one of the best hitters of all time. I’m not going to be that same guy. But I can be a good major league player who can help the team win.”
No one is asking you to be Alex Rodriguez. No Yankee fan expects you to be Arod either. While Rodriguez is one of the best pure hitters in baseball, maybe not trying to be Arod is a good thing for Youkilis. I mean, maybe this means we will have a third baseman who doesn’t crack under pressure and get himself caught in every negative media story about him doing something wrong. So some advice to Youkilis, anything Arod has done, do the opposite!
“Youkilis’ brief swing through the clubhouse took him to the opposite side of the room from where Chamberlain was sitting at his locker. Youkilis and Chamberlain famously feuded during the third baseman’s time in Boston. Although Chamberlain said the two have exchanged text messages, they have yet to speak face-to-face.”
While this last paragraph in quotes isn’t something Youkilis said like the first two quotations, this part was interesting to me. Back in 2007, Joba Chamberlain nearly hit Youkilis in the head with two straight fastballs. Youkilis wondered if the pitcher was out to get him, and the two have not been friendly since. The interesting part of the quote is the where it says Youkilis walked into the locker room, on the opposite side of where Joba was sitting. Youkilis could have put what he calls and “overblown feud made by the media” to rest if he just went over to Joba, with everyone watching, and shook his hand or something. That would have been the right thing to do, and would have shown Youkilis is here for the team, even if the Red Sox are on his mind. No one is asking Youk to go over and have a ten minute chat with Joba, just go over and give him an acknowledgement. This could have helped Youkilis warm up to some Yankees fans in my opinion.
Will Youkilis do well in New York? He definitely can. Can he be a positive influence in the locker room? Absolutely. Will I root for him? If he makes a great play or hits an amazing ball, I’ll cheer, but I won’t be as happy as I would if someone like Derek Jeter or Ichiro did something great. To me, Youk will always be a rival, and it is going to take a lot for me to want to root for him. I was able to root for Damon, so lets see how this goes.
UPDATE: 12:53 PM- In a new front page story on ESPN.com, Kevin Youkilis admits that the “I’ll always be a Red Sock” comment alone looks bad and that he is proud to be a Yankee. On top of that, Youkilis talks about saying hello to Joba and everything being good…you earned some points back Youk…..