I was in Boston, it was perhaps two or three days after Kevin Youkilis was traded to Chicago, exchanging his red for white. Figuring that Youkilis gear would now be on sale, I went to a Red Sox store on Lansdowne Street with my father. To our surprise, there still was plenty of Youkilis gear, up all around as if he still was set to to start that night at third. When my father asked an employee about that, there came (roughly) this response:
“Guy gave over eight years to this franchise and won two rings, we’re not just going to forget him overnight. He’s the Greek God of Walks, after all.”
He added that they’d probably end up taking them down and/or discounting them after the end of the homestand.
Right about now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the stores in Boston are still selling Youkilis jerseys. Because, as the Red Sox become the most volatile playoff-contending team since the Bronx is Burning Yankees, Youkilis very well may have been elevated to a martyr-esque cult figure. While he’s been producing in Chicago and writing nice notes to Red Sox Nation, manager Bobby Valentine has been quoted as blaming Youkilis for all of the problems the two of them had, saying that Youkilis never wanted to get over a comment Valentine had made in April about how he thought Youkilis wasn’t “into it”.
This is not something that is going to help Bobby Valentine’s reputation in Boston, much less the Red Sox locker room. Not like he will care, as he is seemingly turning the Red Sox around by making all of them have a common enemy: him. They are far behind in the AL East race, but are very much in the Wild Card race.
Here’s another anecdote: when at a Red Sox-Blue Jays game at Fenway, there was a mid-inning montage on the jumbotron of final games by Red Sox greats in Boston uniforms. It finished with Youkilis, and that part drew a big cheer.
I’m going to guess he’ll get a similarly big cheer tonight. The reaction to Bobby Valentine when he goes to the pitcher’s mound will probably be more… mixed.