In case you haven’t noticed. Kevin Youkilis
, recently traded to the Chicago White Sox
, is raking. Youk is hitting bombs again, winning games with his bat, and the White Sox are on a tear since they picked him up in exchange for basically garbage to the Red Sox. Predictably enough, Youk is already a firm favourite on the Chicago south side, with his replica jerseys flying out of the club shop faster than you can say ‘Greek God of walks’. Let’s take a step back to just a few weeks ago, before Youkilis was traded. At the time, the Boston sports media was tripping over itself in a rush to see who could insult Youkilis the harshest. In articles on Boston online papers, in Twitter and Facebook, the press absolutely whaled away at Youkilis, calling him washed up, done, finished and saying it was the right move to ship him out of time, as fast as possible. A couple of writers even suggested releasing the veteran.
The problem is, as Youkilis continues to show himself to be a veteran, quality bat, turns out they might have been very wrong.
The level of negativity attached to Youkilis by the media was astonishing. A number of my Red Sox fan friends mentioned it to me and we wondered why they were going so hard on the guy. Was it all instructed from ‘above’? (The Red Sox own part of the Boston Globe, for example) Did Youkilis do something to annoy them? Or were they just that negative?
Youkilis himself noticed it, obviously, and in a recent interview with a Chicago sports radio show made the following illuminating comments
First he said;
''I just think that sometimes in that environment in Boston, sometimes the media can get on you and expect you to have a career year every year."
Then, on the differences in Boston and Chicago media, he said;
"The minute you get to your locker and you come to the field and the door's open til the minute you leave and all around. It's just a media-driven baseball town. Here, it's just kind of happy-go-lucky. If you're the player of the game, they come to your locker. If you're not, so be it, you just get on with your life and go home. There's just no added stress here, in that regard. Sometimes it can just wear on those teams in the Northeast."
As frequent followers of the Red Sox
know, Youkilis is not an exception. The Boston sports media loves to drop the hammer down on Red Sox players and managers too. The unbelievable witch hunt that followed the regrettably 2011 collapse is obviously the case in point.
However it is not only veteran players and managers who are in their sights. Rookies with less than 20-30 at bats are not safe either.
Take for example the excellent looking Mauro Gomez.
Before last night’s loss to the Yankees, Gomez was batting .500 with a 9 of 18 showing, including some really big clutch hits. Orsillo and Remy on NESN were heard musing that perhaps this kid could eventually take over the DH spot from Big Papi. Judging by the way he swings his big bat, that’s not a stretch at all.
Of course, none of this is good enough for the ‘Knights of the keyboard’, as Ted Williams disdainfully dubbed the Boston area sports writers. No, Mauro Gomez’s ability with the bat does not protect him from the usual blissful mockery the Boston sports media likes to rain down on anyone not called Dustin Pedroia. Instead of focusing on his hitting ability, the scribes from Ye Olde Towne, have instead been absolutely lambasting him for his play at third base.
Here’s the thing, anyone who knows anything about the Red Sox farm system knows that Gomez is a DH or first base type player. He is selflessly playing out of position at third base because Will Middlebrooks is injured. The writers who have been sarcastically lashing Gomez online in articles and through Twitter are conveniently neglecting to reference that fact as they gleefully tear the young man’s defence apart.
There is a reason many players would not dream of coming to Boston, no matter how big a truck of John Henry’s money the team backed up to his house. That reason is the often despicably negative Boston sports media. Call it what you want, dress it up any way you like, the Boston sports media takes great pleasure in ripping players apart. For players who have been subjected to their ugly brand of journalism, not having to deal with them on a regular basis is a breath of fresh air.
Just ask Kevin Youkilis. Follow Cormac on Twitter