Kevin Youkilis returns to Boston tonight to face his old team for the first time since his contentious trade to the Chicago White Sox. I was watching the ESPN Sunday night game and a crawl across the bottom of the screen noted the event with a quote from Youkilis saying he had put all the bad feelings behind him and wanted to concentrate on helping his new team reach the post-season. This after Bobby Valentine had told the media that the ballplayer basically did not like the criticism his new manager put on him earlier in the year. Valentine, who has a reputation of shooting off his mouth first then backtracking later had said the onus for the rift between them was on Youkilis. Nice. he could have stopped there, but he continued
Valentine strongly disputed he had any problem with Youkilis in spring training, though he acknowledged he was aware that some teammates had issues with the infielder.
“Yeah, I was aware of that,” Valentine said.
Did the manager have concerns it could morph into a bigger problem?
“Don’t know,” he said. “What’d you think? I inherited that situation. I didn’t cause it.”
Youkilis, when asked in April by ESPNBoston if pitcher Josh Beckett had accused him of being a “snitch” — fingering Youkilis as the source of the “fried chicken and beer” talk in the aftermath of the team’s 2011 collapse — didn’t deny it.
“There were tons of things going around where guys had questions,” Youkilis said.
Valentine, asked if he was aware that Youkilis was accused of being a snitch, gave a vague response.
“I don’t know if I heard any of that stuff,” he said.
Judging from some of the comments made by Youkilis teammates after the trade, it was pretty obvious whose side they came down on.
And whatever happened to the sports axiom, what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse? Red Sox fans were greatly disappointed in the team’s “chicken and bee”-inspired collapse last September but it seems nobody likes a whistle-blower. Fine, that’s always a difficult choice. I would probably have been PO’d as well for the failure of my teammates to take the situation seriously. For Valentine to say ”I don’t know if I heard any of that stuff”… yes you do: either you heard it, in which case you’re lying, or you didn’t, in which case you seem out of the loop.
Furthermore, Valentine — in my opinion — tries to have it both ways, saying “I didn’t create the situation. I inherited it.” Well you know, what, Bobby, they Red Sox front office brought you in tho fix it, not make excuses (“i found it that way.”)
Now I know that the media has a public perception problem. News consumers blame us for editing in such a way that we give a slanted version of the “true” story. In this case I’m passing along what’s there and, in the context of this blog, feel free to parse it as I choose. The natural inclination is to support “our guys.”
One thing I’m sure of: Youkilis will be a great ovation when he returns to Fenway, and that will probably be featured early on in the sports recap shows.
By the way, the White Sox are 11-5 since the trade and are in first place in the AL Central by 3.5 games (49-39). The Red Sox? They lost 10 of their 17 games and are either tied for last place in the AL East (if your a pessimist) or tied for fourth (if you’re an optimist) with a record of 45-44, 9.5 games back of the first place NY Yankees.
(Thanks to KK chaver Ari for the link to the ESPN story.)