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The greatest Hollywood writer could not have written a better script for the last at-bat Kevin Youkilis took in a Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park. All of you have seen the video by now. Diving into third just beating the tag exemplified what Youk's career in Boston was all about...putting in that extra effort.
Drafted by the Red Sox in 2001, Youk worked his way up eventually being a part of two World Series championships in 2004 and 2007. He was also a three time All-Star and the 2008 winner of the Hank Aaron award.
What I'll remember most about Youk in Boston is that he was the ultimate team player. A guy who hustled every single play. Who never left the field, as Bobby V put it, with a clean uniform. Who put the team first.
People forget Youk won a Gold Glove at first base then moved to third for Adrian Gonzalez and even played some outfield because the team needed him to do so. Give me a player like that on my team any day. It's exactly why you saw the players react the way they did in Youk's final trot to the clubhouse. Writers might not like him, other teams definitely don't like him but when you're on their team you love guys like Kevin Youkilis.
I do agree it was time for this to happen. The production to salary did not add up along with injuries incurred over the last few seasons. The emergence of Will Middlebrooks helped speed along the situation as he is definitely big league ready. Also, Youkilis will help the White Sox who have no true third baseman and will get an opportunity to play everyday. It's good deal for both sides.
Hopefully the smear campaign we normally see when players leave Boston doesn't happen today. We'll hear some point to his perceived whining, throwing bats/helmets and rumored arguments with teammates. In my opinion that is less then minor when looking at his career in Boston.
Not too many players in any sport get to close a chapter on such a high note as Kevin Youkilis did yesterday. A fan favorite saluted by the fans one last time. Again, in my opinion it was much deserved. It's always difficult to part ways with a staple like Youk but when the time comes like it did yesterday that's the way to go out.
Ironically enough, the White Sox play at Fenway Park July 16th where the "Youk" chant will be louder than ever even though he's in a different jersey.
Fun fact: The only player left on the Red Sox from the 2004 World Series Champion roster is David Ortiz.
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