Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
There are some players we marvel at because of their pure ability, their natural talents that allow them to do things on the baseball diamond that few or none of their peers can match.
Kevin Youkilis is not one of those players.
The second category of player we marvel at — the one that Youk does fit in to — are guys like Chad Curtis, Darin Erstad, Rex Huddler and Darren Bragg. These are the guys that don't have that same natural ability, but we love to watch them because they squeeze every ounce of baseball talent out of their bodies. They sacrifice their bodies when necessary, they do the little things and, most of all, they give more effort than anyone else on the field.
These are the kind of players that you point out to your young ballplaying son or daughter and say "See him? Do what he does. Copy the way he does things." The Darren Braggs of the world always end up with dusty uniforms, the true mark of what they call "hard-nosed."
This is the kind of baseball player that Youkilis is, someone who had one natural talent for baseball — his uncanny eye at the plate — and had to make up for his otherwise unimpressive skill set and unconventional body type by giving more than everyone else. Credit to Boston baseball fans for noticing, and for giving him the recognition he deserves.
"He's legendary," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said after Youkilis' trade to the White Sox was completed. "His work ethic, his dedication, his ability on the field. He never came off the field with a clean uniform."
Also, credit to Valentine. For all the potential bad blood between him and Youkilis due to their miscommunication over playing time in the last week, Valentine was visibly the most ardent, most fired-up that Youkilis come back out for a curtain call after his seventh inning triple. Many things can be said about Valentine, but in this case he had a keen sense of the moment, and made sure Youkilis got his due and then some.
Call Youkilis the anti-Manny Ramirez. In some ways, it's unfortunate the two players — who once, perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly came to blows in the dugout — ever had to share a clubhouse. While Ramirez was constantly questioned about his effort and heart, no one has ever questioned Youkilis' competitiveness, desire to win, and willingness to do what's best for the team.
The way Kevin Youkilis goes about playing baseball is the way we all should go about living life.