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On August 15, 2006 Dennis Leary and Lenny Clarke "ham" it up in the booth on Boston's Jewish first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Mel Gibson.
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Here is today's Times' story on Youkilis:
Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox remembered how a kid who was about 12 years old used a four-letter word to tell him that he stunk at Yankee Stadium. The kid was sitting with his father, but Youkilis said the father never reprimanded him. Youkilis called the abuse “the worst thing I ever heard” directed at him during a game.
While Youkilis has heard far worse expletives than the R-rated version of stink, and surely mutters some of his own after frustrating at-bats, this insult stuck to him like pine tar. Youkilis did not understand how a kid could use the word so liberally and could do it in front of his father.
As Youkilis discussed what it felt like to be one of the players Yankees fans love to hate, he spoke calmly about being a verbal target. Youkilis called it a form of flattery and said he was resigned to hearing it, even if he did not always comprehend why so much venom was flung at him.
“It’s weird thing, though,” Youkilis said. “It’s real different where I grew up. I was a real Cincinnati Reds fan. If some guy was using expletives and this and that to a player on the field, with kids around, a parent would say something to those people. Here, it’s like it’s taught to the kids.”
Youkilis said he did not blame a kid who used nasty words or an adult who used them or failed to stop someone else from spewing them. Instead, Youkilis, who is known for his intensity, blamed the intense environment that permeates professional sports, especially in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. And Youkilis stressed that the noise was not confined to the Bronx.
“You hear it in Boston,” Youkilis said. “It’s everywhere. Oakland. It happens everywhere. I think it’s just the nature of sports these days. It’s really serious.”
Since Youkilis is a serious player, it was interesting to elicit his thoughts about being verbally clubbed in the Bronx. What Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter hear at Fenway Park, Manny Ramírez and Youkilis hear at the Stadium. But Youkilis refused to place himself in Ramírez’s stratosphere when it came to who was the most booed Bostonian.
“I think Manny’s got me beat,” Youkilis said.
Youkilis was right. Ramírez was booed lustily before he batted against Mike Mussina in the first inning and promptly homered over the center-field fence. Ramírez added another mammoth homer in the third. Youkilis, who was not booed nearly as much as Ramírez was, had two hits and scored twice as Boston beat the Yankees, 7-5.
As a player, Youkilis is reminiscent of Paul O’Neill. Youkilis grinds through at-bats, talks to himself after at-bats and expects to slap a hit in every at-bat. Youkilis is a mostly bald-headed perfectionist who is also versatile.
After Mike Lowell sprained his left thumb and went on the disabled list last week, Youkilis, who has not made an error in a record 199 straight games at first base, coolly shifted across the diamond. In Youkilis’s first game at third, he charged in to field a tapper bare-handed and made the kind of play that would have handcuffed some third basemen. The Red Sox recognize his value.
“He wins a Gold Glove at first,” Manager Terry Francona said. “He goes to third and he plays a major league-caliber third base. You can hit him anywhere in the order. He works the count. He really has turned into a very good major league player.”
Although Youkilis naturally is overshadowed by Ramírez and David Ortiz, he does not believe he is underrated. He leads the team with a .371 average. Still, Youkilis said he considered himself more of a steady player than a superstar, saying he does not think he will ever be a superstar.
“When you win a World Series and stuff like that, it shows it’s not all superstars,” Youkilis said. “You can’t just have superstars on a team to win.”
In tracing the fans’ ire toward him, Youkilis said he evolved into more of an object of derision after Joba Chamberlain threw two straight 98-mile-per-hour fastballs over his head during a game last August. Youkilis said it was senseless to him that “I got two balls thrown at my head and now everyone yells at me.”
Still, Youkilis said there were some cool aspects of being berated, including how “people know your name” and “you don’t know their names.”
When Youkilis repeated something that had been yelled at him, he was told that it would never appear in a newspaper unless one word was replaced with the word “stink.” Youkilis quickly said, “They don’t say stink.”
As long as Youkilis plays for the Red Sox and as long as he plays in his intense way, he will always be a verbal target here. Youkilis knows that, which is why he long ago decided to treat any boos like a badge.
“If people don’t like you,” he said, “you’re doing something right.”