Last Sunday I was lying on my couch, generally incapacitated from the type of Sunday hangover that comes but a few times a year ... or whenever your girlfriend leaves town for a weekend to visit family and you suddenly become indifferent to the amount of vodka you’re consuming during pre-gaming. My credit card was at the bar so my attempts to order pizza had failed, and my car was still at a bar from Friday so until after dinner I was stranded in the house. Luckily the Red Sox game was on, so I stared at it in the way negligent parents will throw on a Pixar movie to keep their kids quiet and distracted for a couple hours. From the start, something was different. On his first at-bat Youkilis got a standing ovation, which the TBS broadcast team referred to as “bizarre,” but I found completely logical in the context of trade talks heating up and Will Middlebrooks’ emergence at third base, and the resulting possibility that any game could be Youk’s last in a Sox uniform.
That David Wells passes for a television broadcaster in today’s pathetic media landscape is bizarre. The crowd reactions on Sunday were not. But I digress.
After a couple more standing ovations and a triple that could easily have been scored an error, Bobby Valentine lifted the former all-star to give him a chance to enter the dugout with all the Fenway cheers for himself, punctuated with a couple of curtain calls for good measure. While the broadcasters once again could muster nothing more than confusion, any reasonable fan could discern that Youk either had been traded or was about to be traded, but was nevertheless done in Boston. I knew I was supposed to feel something for a player that had been one of the best hitters in the league for so many consecutive years; certainly I knew my friends that rooted for the Yankees were happy to see him go after I spent years hearing how much they hated his “stupid face” in the way I hate Teixieira’s stupid horseface. But really all I could muster as he sank into the dugout and disappeared down the tunnel was one thought: It’s over already?
Don’t get me wrong, I loved his intensity, I loved his hustle and believe me, when you cheer for someone nicknamed the “Greek God of Walks,” you gain a certain affinity for watching four pitches land outside the strike zone. Sure there were injuries, yet he was dependable despite them in a way, where you knew if he was in the lineup, you would be getting his best. Maybe he was cursed by the era he played for the Sox, arriving just as the fan base started expecting a dynasty, just as anything short of a World Series championship became a massive disappointment for a city that was already beyond spoiled. He was clutch in his own way, coming alive in the final three games of the 2007 ALCS, hitting a bomb off CC Sabathia in game five, but still, those three games are remembered by me for JD Drew’s only big hit as a Red Sox and the Indians’ collapse. Sure, he played seventy-some games in 2004 but I think few fans would think of him as a member of that team. Which again leads to my bewilderment at how fast the time went.
In the movie High Fidelity
, John Cusack’s character "Rob" is left by his long time girlfriend for another man. After a period of soul searching they get back together and while there is no longer that excitement, that crazy head-over-heels feeling, he describes things as “just…good.” In the end, for Rob, that was enough.
To me that was Youkilis. He never did anything that left me in awe, he never made me feel like the team couldn’t survive without him, but he got the hits, sparked the clubhouse, and - mercifully - never drove me to such frustration that I wanted to drive my car over a cliff. He was just…good. There’s nothing wrong with good. I loved Manny Ramirez, for instance, as he would do things that I still think about to this day. But I can also picture him having two errors in one inning of Game One of the 2004 World Series, leading me to unleash a torrent of obscenities from my mouth that gets me angry typing this eight years later. Now that - that’s love, with its highs and its lows. Youk, on the other hand, was dependable. Never flashy and never had moments that endeared me to him in that same, intense way, but I’ll always be thankful that he was on my team during that time. That - that’s comfort, complacency. But after being in that place with crazy highest-highs and lowest-lows love, one can really appreciate comfort and complacency. One can really appreciate just…good.
In a way, maybe he got screwed by 2004. If Dave Roberts gets tagged out in Game Four, the Yankees complete the sweep and, assuming the Red Sox get it done in 2007 as they did, Youk is remembered as one of the heroes of the organization, the guy with the clubhouse intensity that pushed the team over the Indians to reverse the curse after 89 years.
Instead you’ll have fans unable to remember his name 20 years from now, while at the same time will roll off “Mark Bellhorn” without difficulty. That sucks for him. And it's what sucks about feeling that feeling I had on Sunday about the time passing too quickly. I still wanted him to be able to do more, to get another ring, to hit that walk-off in the playoffs. To have that twilight, legacy-cementing moment that would ensure he wouldn’t be forgotten. Instead he’s in a White Sox uniform and now I’m left to define his career around one World Series and a myriad of relative disappointment, especially 2008 and 2011, years when those around him should have put the finishing touches on a dynasty and instead faltered against teams that never approached them in terms of talent.
Is that unfair to Youk? Of course it is. Fans, especially those who root for Buffalo teams, should appreciate great talent even when it comes on a team that doesn’t win it all.
Fair or not, watching him walk off the field on Sunday left me wishing, for a moment, that there was more time for Youk. There's no question he deserved it, but eventually time decided for him, assisted by a young third baseman hitting the ball all over the place and demanding a spot on the field, just like he did eight short years ago. And even if I never loved this player with the kind of passion - both highs and lows - with which I have loved the Red Sox greats of the past decade, part of me wanted Youk to have a chance to bring me there. A chance to prove that "just... good" can sometimes be more than enough.Follow me on Twitter @MattyRenn
-I am a poor sport. I hate losing and it does not matter if it is a pick-up basketball game with friends, an essay writing contest in college, or board games on date night with my girlfriend. I can admit to this and it is a problem I will probably never fix. I also hate when teams I dislike win. This is why I will not congratulate the Bruins on winning the Cup. Immature? Absolutely. I do not care, and I am still convincing myself that Tim Thomas is a closet Nazi.
This is because I really, really, really hate Boston. It stems from several occurrences in my life. 1) Before the Sawx won the World Series in 2004, I always despised the way Boston fans bitched and moaned about the epic baseball championship drought. Their other three professional sports teams had combined for 24 total championships, compared the giant ZERO my teams have experienced. I viewed them as spoiled brats. (Sidenote: I realize that some people are only Red Sox fans, and those people I am usually willing to let it slide.) 2) I have only been to Boston twice, and both times it was a terrible experience. People were rude, it smelled like fish, and a guy named Tommy threatened to hit me because I was wearing a Cubs hat…seriously. I was walking down the street, nowhere near Fenway and this brooding giant says "I should smack your face off for wearing that hat in my town". I have no idea if his name was Tommy but it seems like a safe assumption. 3) All of their franchises are incredibly easy to hate. Even Boston fans can admit to this. Brady, Belichick, Schilling, Papelbon, Chara, Garnett…I hate all of these guys. ESPECIALLY THAT NAZI LOVING TIM THOMAS! END RANT!No congrats from this guy. I am going to stay bitter and continue with my plot to place lite brights all over the city of Boston. That seems to scare them.
You stay classy Vancouver
-On to Vancouver. I know they were totally whiny during the playoffs and it made them hard to root for. Luongo is jack-wagon and the Sedin twins are b-i-otches. I get this. That is why last night I DVR’d the game and watched True Grit in the park while chugging back a magnum of wine. I did not want either team to win, and after seeing the way all of those douche-nozzle fans reacted after the loss, I wish that both teams would have been abducted by the Super 8 alien and held hostage in a dark cave, forcing the NHL to allow Tampa Bay and San Jose play for the cup. That would have been stupendous.
-Brian Bund of Buffalowins
wrote a great post earlier today telling hockey fans to relax. I agreed with most of what he had to say (not so much about the Two & A Half Men being a good show part, sorry Brian). After I read it, we briefly chatted on twitter and the point came up that we as fans (old AND new) have become way too dismissive of other fans. When the hell did this “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality take over? Seeing some of these twitter battles take place reminds me of losers like Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, and every shmuck on Around The Horn. How about making valid points and not dismissing everyone with sarcasm and a know-it-all attitude? We are better than this people! I know our site is mostly based in humor and we RARELY act like we actually know what we are talking about, but there is an insane amount of knowledge in the heads of the assholes that run this blog and when we want to make a point, we will. I guarantee none of us will just say “whatever, you’re an idiot” or tell people that they don’t know anything about hockey or any sport for that matter because we are in a pissy mood. A blog or a message board account gives you a platform to speak your mind in any way, shape, or form you would like, however if you take the “well I’m right, and you’re wrong” route, prepare to be dismantled. I’m not keeping the Yachtsman on a leash anymore. You’ve been warned.
-I just realized everything I previously wrote may completely contradict itself. Oh well, eff it. Hopefully you got my point.
-I know I can be a real pain in the ass with self promotion, but seriously if you have not checked out episode nine of the CrapTastiCast
yet, please download it and take a listen. I still can’t believe Nick Mendola
agreed to talk to us. He is such a great figure for Buffalo and the interview touches on some amazing points involving the city. We appreciate all the readers of the site and if you could spread the word on that interview, we would be in your debt.
Feel free to determine which blogger is which and leave it in the comment area.
-The Buffalo Sabres Blogger Summit is happening today at 6:30pm. I have to admit that the whole thing is pretty cool. I’d like to see some more snarkiness and cynicism on the invite list, but that’s because we here at DGWU are total jerk-offs. We know that Phil at BBG
will be our proxy and representing us in a much more sophisticated and less douchey manner (he doesn't know this, and I am totally making it up). Honestly though, I am glad that the whole thing is taking place, and this blog never thought we would ever be invited. We have absolutely no right to be there. First of all, we are all in NYC and possibly a little out of touch with Buffalo. Second, have you read this site or listened to our podcast? Holy hell we are a natural disaster of immense proportions. Yachtsman would be screaming at Ted Black about the locker rooms not being ready in time for free agency and that somehow it is a conspiracy involving Larry Quinn. Apologist would be so baked we would start asking questions about Dirk Nowitzki and would most likely walk out mid-conference to grab some Jim's Steak Out. Barrister would be at least seven shots of Jameson deep and telling creepy, childhood church camp stories. And Finally, I would be asking questions like “how much tail does Timmy Connolly REALLY pull on an average weekend?”, or maybe “What’s it like to hang out with Matt Ellis? Is it true smell like oak and fresh pine needles?” See what I mean? DISASTER.
-Which brings me to a very important announcement: Since we have no business being at the Sabre Summit, I decided to create our own. I am proud to bring to you, tonight at 7pm not sharp, the 2011 NYC Sabre Summit. The conference will feature yours truly and the rest of the DGWU Crew, as well as Joe from Buffalowins and maybe some other special guests! (Hint: I have reached out to Bob Corkum’s people aka his mom) The Summit will take place at Drop-Off Service
on 211 Avenue A and will feature delicious craft beers, shots of Irish whiskey, and zero journalistic integrity. As Brian Bund said to me earlier, “NYC Sabre Summit: Where drinking makes you forget you’re not at the real summit.”
Cheers everyone. Enjoy the blogger takeover today, and make sure you clean your mom’s basement before you head over to HSBC (nerd jokes!). And if you see Matt Ellis, tell him I said hi and NO, I WILL NOT STOP SENDING HIM LETTERS UNTIL HE RESPONDS!
Why won't you love me, Matty? Wow I'm creepy.
Remember to follow us on twitter @DGWUSports
And yours truly on twitter @TheScizz