Sometimes the gods smile.
(Speaking of gods and the whole “Greek God of Walks” thing, that of course was a mistake made in the seminal Moneyball, when Youk, because of his name, was assumed to be Greek. He is, of course, Jewish. One of the great moments in modern Sox history –speaking of the gods smiling– occurred when Sox fanatic Denis Leary was in the booth with Don & Jerry. Hilarity, then fortuity, ensued.)
So: getting back to those baseball gods. They seem to enjoy karma, eh? How wonderful for Youk, and the fans, that he was able to crank out a hit in what turned out to be his last at bat. At Fenway, on a hit that epitomized Youk’s tenure in Boston: a nice jolt that he turned from a double to a triple, hustling his never-svelte body down the base-paths (one of my favorite Youk quotes was provided by the beloved and dearly-missed Tito Francona, who once claimed “I’ve seen him in the shower: he’s not the Greek God of anything.”)
Anyway, it was genuinely moving to see Youk get serenaded by the crowd and he got the fondest farewell one could imagine. (Wait until he makes his first return to Fenway: the ovation will be long and loud.)
It sucks to see him go, but it always sucks when sports relationships, which seldom end well, sour and terminate. He still has some ball to play, and I hope he gets a fair chance in Chicago, trying on some white sox for size.
I always loved him and always will. Without him, the ’07 rings would be worn by another team, plain and simple. For that alone, he should never buy a beer in Beantown.
Yes, his intensity irked many. But real fans, and especially underdogs and overachievers can –and should– admire and emulate Youkilis. He has made a career squeezing every smidgen of talent out of his body, equal parts practice, will and a pig-headed refusal to quit. For a culture that correctly laments how many naturally talented individuals (in sports; in all endeavors) squander gifts and spoil opportunities, Youk is a perpetual poster boy for making (or, taking) the most out of whatever you’ve been given. People who thought Youk couldn’t lighten up need to remember his intensity was focused on one thing: winning. When they won, he lightened up quite nicely, thank you. One of my fondest memories of him will be his demented pas de deux with Papelbon after the Sox clinched the ALCS in ’07.