I knew in my heart of hearts it would happen. I fooled myself for a while, thinking that he’d go home to Ohio and Terry Francona. Then Cleveland signed Mark Reynolds and there was nowhere else worth going. Kevin Youkilis will be wearing pinstripes in 2013.
Youk. The man we Yankee fans lovingly refer to as Puke. The player we snickered at when Joba Chamberlain threw not one, but two fastballs over his oversized noggin. The whiny former Red Sox first/third baseman we love to hate will be manning the hot corner at Yankee Stadium. This one is going to take me a while to get used to.
I know. This is not the first time a dreaded Sawx player became a turncoat by signing as a free agent. Johnny Damon, and Wade Boggs before him, made successful stops in the Bronx after headlining on Yawkey Way, but those felt different. I had a grudging respect for Boggs’ baseball abilities and soft spot for Damon’s Cabbage Patch looks and speedy legs. Those signings both ended well for the players–each received a World Series ring as a parting gift from the Bombers.
Yet I just don’t like Youkilis. It’s totally irrational. I don’t know the guy. He may be rescuing puppies and kittens from burning buildings in his spare time. It’s just for me, his baseball persona is irritating. He seems to be constantly complaining about some perceived injustice he’s experienced on the field. His batting stance makes Craig Counsell’s look downright normal. He’s got a face only a mother could love.
So, I obviously don’t like this signing, right? Quite the opposite. When I take off my fan hat and view this from purely a baseball perspective, I like the deal for several reasons. First, the Yankees need someone who can play third base while A-Rod and his tired old hip heal during the first half of the season. Second, they are losing Nick Swisher, so they also need someone who can spell Mark Teixeira at first base from time to time. Oh, and it’s only a one-year deal.
In Youkilis, the Yankees get someone used to the pressures of playing under a microscope in a baseball town swarming with media. They get a veteran hitter who sees a lot of pitches at the plate and still has some pop. They also get a player the Red Sox discarded (see Damon and Boggs, above) who has something to prove, especially to his former club.
Still, from a fan perspective, the thought of the Bleacher Creatures chanting “Youk” during roll call leaves me a bit queasy. At the end of the day, we all root for the laundry, and if Youkilis produces for the Yankees, he’ll win me over … but it doesn’t mean I have to like him.