There’s been a cold spell in these parts recently, but now that Kevin Youkilis will be calling The House that Ruth (Derek?) Built his new home, things may change a bit.
Youkilis brings a two-position (three, if you count DH) veteran presence to the Yankees, but he also brings nine years of, for lack of a better term, “being Kevin Youkilis” to the Bronx. Yankees fans have hated him for almost a decade, and rightfully so. He was a great baseball player, a “Yankee killer,” one of the toughest outs in the game and he came up with some clutch moments when the Sox needed him most.
Now, the oh-so-forgiving Yankee fan base will be doing the best they can to alter their “boos” to “Youks.” No guarantees, though, Kevin.
No matter what, fans in Boston will always call a former Red Sox player playing with the Yankees “a traitor,” but the signing comes with even more mixed reviews from the Tri-State area. Their fan-player relationship with him not withstanding, he’s a player whose batting average dropped from .307 to .258 to .235 in the last three years, and who sported a career-low .336 OBP just last summer. Numbers don’t lie, and Youkilis made a name for himself in the minors based on his numbers (namely, on-base percentage) alone as he lacked speed, power and a flashy mitt.
Simply put, he’s not the same Kevin Youkilis that Yankees pitchers have been trying to avoid or Yankees fans have been booing for all these years.
In the eyes of Red Sox Nation, he’s an expensive fill-in player that’s heading into 2013 with a clean-shaven mug. He’s an aging infielder who will be looking to overcome a dreadful season at the dish. What’s more, he will still have waterfalls for sweat glands and a knack for rolling around swearing every time he gets nicked by a pitch. Yes, his bat, glove and emotions will make an impact in the rivalry, but he won’t make nearly the same impact former Sox-turned-Yanks have made.
The comparisons will be aplenty, but in no way is this acquisition similar to the Johnny Damon signing that turned Boston’s most beloved caveman into the city’s biggest enemy. Damon was coming off consistent years of great baseball, even earning MVP votes in two straight years before landing in NY. He was the man in Boston. Youk was great here in the Hub, but, if we can learn one thing from Bobby Valentine (bear with me, it’s just one thing), he did correctly point out this year that Youk hasn’t been “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.”
Check the stats — Bobby was right.
Youk will be 34 next season and outside of any brawls or one-game playoffs, he will be the biggest reason for Red Sox fans to be fired up, once again, about the storied rivalry. If Sox fans love one thing more than watching their team do well, it’s watching and praying for the Yankees do badly. As for a former Red Sox player playing poorly for the Yankees? It doesn’t get any better than that.