May
29

When Youkilis attacks

By

Back in July of 2008 I was lucky enough to sit in box seats for a Yankees-Red Sox tilt. It was hot and hazy, the kind of day where you can’t see the sun behind the cloud cover but you still need sunglasses. We settled into our seats on the third base side, over the Red Sox dugout, halfway between third base and home plate. It was a fantastic game, a much-needed win for the home team, and when it was over Kevin Youkilis taunted me.

The Yankees had lost the day before when Darrell Rasner got slapped around by Boston on the Boss’ birthday. They had fallen to 45-42, good for nine games back of the division leader Tampa Bay Rays and good enough for fourth place. The Yankees needed a win, and they were sending Mike Mussina to the mound to oppose youngster Justin Masterson. The two hurlers couldn’t have been more different. Mussina was 6’2″, 185 pounds soaking wet, and Masterson was 6’6″ and every bit his listed weight of 250 pounds. Mussina was in the last year of his professional career and Masterson was in his first. Mussina got by on a fastball well short of 90 mph thanks to his ability to keep batters off-balance with a myriad of offspeed offerings. Masterson was a classic sinker/slider pitcher; everything seemed hard and fast. Mussina was deliberate, slow, and almost artful in his over-the-top delivery. Masterson was more or less a sidearmer, and seemed to release the ball halfway to home plate.

The game turned out to be a pitcher’s duel, to my delight. Moose and Masterson were spectacular. Mussina went 6 innings, giving up 4 hits, walking 1 and striking out 5. Masterson was no pushover either, and his sinker was working well. He went six innings, walking 2 and striking out 2, and getting 11 ground balls. The Yankees were able to get two runs off him, from a Melky single that scored Giambi and a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly that scored Wilson Betemit. Going into the seventh inning the Yankees led 2-0.  As crazy as it sounds now, Jose Veras and Kyle Farnsworth were in charge of the seventh and eighth inning. Here’s the crazier part: they held the Red Sox scoreless. We had made it to the ninth inning. The familiar tones of  “Enter Sandman” rang out and #42 came running in. Game over, we thought.

JD Drew led off the top of the ninth inning and singled to center. Next up was Manny Ramirez, and Rivera promptly plunked him. This put a runner on first and second with no one out. Brandon Moss came in to run for Manny, and Mike Lowell came to the plate and promptly singled to right, scoring JD Drew and moving Moss to second. Now the score was 2-1, with no one out and runners on first and second. Kevin Youkilis came to the plate and Rivera hit him too. Now the bases were loaded and no one was out. The Yankees had a one run lead.

I can’t tell you what went through the crowd with the bases loaded and no one out, with Rivera struggling with his control, with the Red Sox threatening to ruin our afternoon and keep us in fourth place. No one can tell you what a group of people is feeling at a given point in time, let alone fifty thousand people. It doesn’t matter how intuitive they are or how skilled they are at putting words down on paper: it inevitably becomes a generalization, a shaping of the facts to fit the narrative. It falls short. I won’t do that.

All I can do is tell you what I felt like. I didn’t feel brash confidence or psychic dread. No, I felt the annoying sensation of “Oh, you HAVE to be kidding me. Of all the games I go to, of all the times I get to sit in box seats, NOW is when Mariano decides to melt down? He couldn’t have just, I don’t know, waited a week to blow the lead against some other team?” It was that fundamentally New York feeling of being personally aggrieved by the conspiratorial forces of the universe, the forces actively attempting to just ruin your day. It was the same feeling I get when I’m waiting for an A train that just will not show up. That’s how I felt. What my other 50,000 friends felt, I can’t say.

Coco Crisp stepped to the plate and I was feeling this feeling and also a good amount of nervousness. I didn’t respect Coco Crisp as a professional hitter, but Rivera was suddenly a rare combination of hittable and wild. There was still nobody out and the tying run was 90 feet away. But something happened. Maybe Rivera found his control, maybe he remembered that he was Rivera, maybe he decided to stop screwing around. I don’t know, but he somehow got it back, and struck out Coco Crisp. One out.

Next up was Jason Varitek. It was 2008, but his decline was already in full bloom. Rivera got him to pop out and there were two outs.

So now Julio Lugo stepped to the plate and the place was rocking. The bases were loaded, and with two outs Rivera just went ahead and struck Lugo out. Ball game over, Yankees win, all is well. The place went nuts, and “New York, New York” came over the loudspeakers. I was standing near the Red Sox dugout and I was feeling euphoric, and relieved. As Kevin Youkilis began his slow walk to the dugout from second base, I yelled at him. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember wanting to properly escort him back to the dugout and out of the stadium. I wanted him to know that I took a fair amount of personal pleasure in seeing this game resolved satisfactorily, and that I didn’t particularly care for him or his team.

Kevin Youkilis has always struck me as someone who doesn’t take things well on the field. Much like the way I was feeling with the bases loaded and no one out, Youkilis takes it all personally. Some say that he’s never had a third strike called against him: the ump got it wrong, man, those pitches were all balls. I dislike seeing him complain about balls and strikes, I dislike his facial hair, his batting stance, the stilted way he runs, and his perpetual refusal to fight Joba Chamberlain. I freely admit that I’ve love him if he was a Yankee, but that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that I dislike him now and I disliked him then.

Probably one of the biggest reasons I dislike him, apart from the whining and the facial hair and the batting stance, is what happened as he walked towards the dugout from second base. He saw me taunting him. I was, after all, in the expensive seats, even if I didn’t happen to be acting like I belonged. As Youk took off his helmet he looked me right in the eyes. And then he held up up four fingers, wiggled them, and raised his eyebrows.

Although it would soon change, the Yankees were in fourth place.

And then he disappeared into the dugout.

An earlier version of this story appeared at TYU last year.

Categories : Musings

51 Comments»

  1. The BIG 3 says:

    A Youk thread on the backend of two ugly losses? Oh my, the hater-aid that is to come!

    My 2 cents before I exit, stage left; I like baseball, therefor, I like Youkalis. Sue me.

    • V says:

      Yeah, I find it hard to hate the d00d. I refuse to ‘hate’ a baseball player that I would ‘love’ if he were on the Yankees.

      There are assholes out there that I still wouldn’t like if they were Yankees, but Youkilis ain’t one of them.

      • Rob NY says:

        Youkillis would have an asshole face even if he were a Yankee. I’m sure he’s a fine human being but every time his face comes on the screen I feel like I owe a carny somewhere 15 cents.

    • Mike HC says:

      Yea, I’m a fan of Youk as well. Like him even better knowing he is not above playfully taunting opposing fans.

    • bonestock94 says:

      He bitches so much, thats what annoys me. Every K.

  2. Monteroisdinero says:

    No goatee if he was on the Yanks. He has killed us many times. Do not like seeing him up with risp.

  3. Avi Atkin says:

    Fack Youk!

    Seriously, the guy irritates me, but that’s primarily because he’s a Sawx player. He’s clutch, productive, good story (late bloomer), and apparently has a sense of humor. God, can’t believe I just praised Youkilis…

  4. Zooboy says:

    I find Youk easy to root against, but perhaps it would be even more fun to root for him. It sure was with Boggs.

  5. Pat D says:

    I had an experience somewhat similar to this, though the outcome was much different.

    My sophomore year at Notre Dame was 2000-2001. The second week of the football season we hosted Nebraska, who was ranked #1 at the time. Despite probably getting outplayed (I can’t remember any stats about this game), a punt return touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown allowed ND to tie the game at 21 and force overtime. Unfortunately, we couldn’t score at the end of regulation as Arnaz Battle, who was QB at the time, suffered a wrist injury.

    ND got the ball first in overtime and had to kick a field goal. That’s usually not a good sign. Nebraska gets the all important first down on their possession. Sure enough, Eric Crouch, that year’s eventual Heisman Trophy winner and future NFL washout because he couldn’t handle not being able to play QB at the next level, scored the winning touchdown on a run. He was able to sneak into the corner of the end zone where my seat happened to be about five rows up.

    About half the Nebraska team came over to the corner to pick up their hero and then they all immediately taunted us since they knew very well we were a good portion of the student body. I just remember a lot of smirks and hand gestures, but nothing specific. After all it was over 10 years ago now. Not at all a pleasant way for the game to end, especially because our totally awesome alumni sold their tickets to Nebraska fans so that about half the stadium was filled with them.

    After the game I had to go work a shift at the dining hall and I saw so many cocky Nebraska fans walking back to their cars that I wanted to fight every one of them. Especially the ones who wore those totally ridiculous cornhusk hats.

  6. Regis says:

    Youk looks like the lovechild of a walrus and a gorilla.

  7. Mister Delaware says:

    I came to Boston 2+ years ago liking Lester and strongly disliking Papelbon, Pedroia, Beckett, Varitek, Ortiz and Youkilis. Youk is the only one I’ve changed my opinion of.

    (And I’m convinced Ortiz equals Tiki Barber. Super douche with the ability to trick the media and a good majority of fans into thinking he’s this great affable guy.)

  8. Mantle28 says:

    Great read Stephen.

  9. Bpdelia says:

    Count me amongst those who like every single thing about youklis. Love the stance, the eye, great glove and intense to boot.

    I LOATHE manny, I despise ortiz, pappelbon makes me violent and pedroia annoys me.

    I hate drew alot.

    Youklis is the one boston player I like. One of my favorite players playing today

    • pete says:

      I’m pretty much the exact opposite, except I agree about Papelbon. He’s just annoying.

    • Fernando says:

      I compare Manny to a hot dog — full of artificial fillers and preservatives.
      Ortiz is a slice of baloney, since he claimed to be not be full of steroids but is full of baloney.
      PEDroia is a piece of ham, since he always hamming it up with that laser show silliness.
      Pappelbon is a a piece of liverwurst, everyone hates liver and he’s the worst.
      Youklis is stinky tofu, which has a strong offensive odor.

  10. jayd808 says:

    I read somewhere that “Youk” was one of the most disliked players in MLB by the players. Certainly he was the object of Manny’s disaffection at one point. He was the Sawkser who questioned Ellsbury’s desire to play and provided fodder to the press. He appears to be a self-appointed Voice of the Sawks but always seems to provide dissent in the locker room POV.

    Quite frankly, his head is grotesquely outsized and shouldn’t be allowed to play in the MLB. I think this is the main reason Chamberlain’s fastball has gravitated towards the latter feature of Youk’s anatomy — no fault of the Nebraska phenom, just an inability to stop thinking about bursting an ugly giant melon. It’s simply unavoidable and MLB needs to act quickly on the matter.

  11. dc1874 says:

    I saw him in an episode of Man Vs Food..he was sitting at another table and watching Adam eat this 12 burger patty and pound of french fries…he was pretty cool..he reached over and took some of the fries…looked to be pretty down to earth..

  12. special kid says:

    did not read.

  13. Kevin G. says:

    A wild Kevin Youkilis appeared!

  14. jussayin' says:

    I for one would stop rooting for and following the Yankees till he was gone if they had Youkilis as part of the club.

    For someone who is portrayed as being tough, he sure is a baby. He is soft as they come. Watch his actions as he gets any slight injury. You would think his arm fell off and he was going into cardiac arrest.

    Youk is a POS, and if he EVER dons pinstripes I am done with the club till he is gone.

    • pete says:

      yeah, I kinda agree. I mean, I would love to have his OBP and otherworldly 1B defense, but the man simply does not behave like an adult, and that bugs the crap out of me.

  15. pete says:

    Yeah, Youkilis bugs the hell out of me. I would like him if he were on the Yankees, because he is a stud player, but he is a whiny walrus faced out-of-shape dweebus, so I don’t like him.

    The only players I like on the Sox are Lester, Cameron, Drew, and Ortiz. I am starting to warm up to Pedroia, but only because it is now clear that he will never be a better offensive player than Cano again.

    I HATE Beckett, Papelbon, and Varitek.

    Weirdly enough, even though they always killed the Yankees, I loved Pedro and Manny. Probably my favorite Sox players of all time.

    • Xstar7 says:

      You forgot to mention Curt Schilling. I hated that motherfucker.

      • the tenth inning stretch says:

        I think the worst part about Schilling was that he named his kid Gehrig and claimed to be this huge Yankee fan, but then he went to Boston and was so loudmouthed in his hatred of the Yanks. He went from being this big Yankee fan to becoming the face of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry for the other side.

        • Xstar7 says:

          He also claimed he was a huge Yankee fan when it looked like the Yankees were going to sign him before the 2004 season. But that of course changed when he ended up going to Boston. That two-faced bastard.

      • Fernando says:

        What do you mean “hated”? I still hate that “know-it-all” and now we are stuck with him on Baseball Tonight next to Boston fanboy Berthiaume.

  16. Greg Golson's Laser Rocket Arm says:

    I was at the same game in the Monument Park Seats, and I yelled at Papelbon after the game. Fun times

  17. Adam B says:

    Oh he is one of the toughest outs in the league in a big spot, there is no doubt about that…

    having said that I can’t stand him. He thinks he is way more of a badass than he actually is… He does bitch a lot, especially when he gets hit by a pitch. Dude crowds the plate as much as anyone… Plus when he charged Porcello that pissed me off. Not only was Porcello 10 years younger than him but he also threw his helmet at him… What kind of girl throws his helmet… If you want to charge and start a fight then charge and fight like a man and pick on someone your own size. It’s like Varitek throwing punches with a catchers mask on.

  18. the tenth inning stretch says:

    I respect the stats that Youk puts up, and I agree that he’s very deserving of the respect that they’ve garnered him. That being said, I can’t stand him. He’s just a big man-child who seems to think he’s never wrong. Any pitch in close, he thinks it’s thrown at him. Any close pitch that’s called a strike, he’s furious about. He’s just a huge douche, IMO.

  19. Cuso says:

    Yeah, the story woulda been better if it was a game during 2009 or even 2010.

    It didn’t get much better than those 4 wagging fingers in ’08.

  20. Kulish says:

    Youkilis strikes me as one of those self righteous assholes who is never wrong about anything and, takes everything personally. Fuck him and his stupid face.

  21. Kulish says:

    Youkilis strikes me as one of those self righteous assholes who is never wrong about anything and, takes everything personally. Eff him and his stupid face.

  22. Kulish says:

    Youkilis strikes me as one of those self righteous a-holes who is never wrong about anything and, takes everything personally. Eff him and his stupid face.

  23. Kiko Jones says:

    I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress,
    I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress,
    I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress,
    I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress,
    I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress,
    I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress…

  24. Travis muhfuckin jepeway says:

    HAHAHA HATE ALL YOU WANT IDIOTS THATS THE MENTAL SIDE OF THE GAME, AND HE OBVIOUSLY HAS SHOWED YALL UP ON IT… YOOOOOUUUUUKKKKK!!!! YOUKILIS IS THE SHIT MAN ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLAYERS… RED SOX NATION REPPIN IN SO CAL…

  25. Travis muhfuckin jepeway says:

    HAHAHA HATE ALL YOU WANT IDIOTS THATS THE MENTAL SIDE OF THE GAME, AND HE OBVIOUSLY HAS SHOWED YALL UP ON IT… YOOOOOUUUUUKKKKK!!!! YOUKILIS IS THE $HIT MAN ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLAYERS… RED SOX NATION REPPIN IN SO CAL…

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