The Pluses and Minuses of Kevin Youkilis’s Intensity – Part 3
Kevin Youkilis is a very intense person.
He has even been in a fight with his own teammate. Youkilis was mad and threw his helmet after a futile at-bat, when Manny Ramírez made it clear he hated Youk’s tantrum. Curse words were exchanged in the dugout, and Ramírez had to be restrained from jumping on his teammate. The incident was caught on tape and widely reported.
This is what Kevin had to say about the tiff: “We have two different approaches to the game. Winning and losing isn’t life and death to Manny.” But we all know it is to Youk. “Every at-bat matters to me and when it doesn’t work out, I need to release some of that negative energy.” “I’ve tried the other way. For a while, when I made an out I just went and sat down. It doesn’t work for me. I’ve gotten better [at controlling myself], but what can I do? I can’t change who I am.”
On every at-bat Youk comes up thinking there are two outs, bases loaded, in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series. That often results in a base knock, but if he fails he freaks out and that can cause the Manny effect.
Kevin’s intensity and drive can sometimes tick off his opponents as well as his teammates. Here is what Mike Lowell said in reaction to Youk’s flare-up four years ago “In 2006, I couldn’t understand why he could be 2 for 2, then line out and the world was going to end” . . .
Not everyone on the team is so annoyed by Youk’s outbursts, Dustin Pedroia defends Youk this way: “He plays hard, puts the team in front of himself. I don’t know what else people want.”
From opponents, of course, there were more Kevin Youkilis incidents, like the time when Joba Chamberlan threw two straight fastballs at Kevin’s head. “I t was right at my head,” Youkilis said. After being walked, Kevin had to be restrained from going after Chamberlan. And warnings were issued to both benches. ”If that young man is trying to get our attention, he did a very good job,” said Terry Francona; after all, Chamberlain “has great command until Youk gets in there.”
Joba denied that he was intentionally going after Youkilis (see video).
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On August 11, 2009, the Red Sox were playing the Detroit Tigers. Rick Porcello (the Tiger’s ace) hit Youk in the back with an 89-mph fastball on the first pitch of his at-bat. This was the second time Youk had been plunked the Tigers pitching staff in as many games. This time, Youk tried to do something about it: He charged the mound and the benches cleared.
Youk later expressed some regret about charging the mound, saying “For kids out there it’s not the way you should handle it . . . .”
Although Youkilis’s intensity sometime annoys his teammates and opponents and sometimes even leaves him regretful, he would never be the great player he has become were he less intense (see Part 1 of this series) His quest for unrealistic levels perfection is his source of greatness — by trying to be perfect, he makes himself better. In that way, Youkilis’s intensity sets a great example for kids.
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 4 is here.