Today was another one of those special days at Fenway Park. Kevin Youkilis ripped a triple to right center field. Nick Punto is called on to pinch run. And in the words of the TBS announcers broadcasting the game, it almost seemed like the fans knew something that they didn't. Slowly the roar built up until it was deafening. Everyone at Fenway Park was on their feet applauding Youkilis for his effort to get into third base and willingness to get dirty.
Outside of the Red Sox first base dugout was Dustin Pedroia, who hugged Youkilis with everything had. So too did the rest of the players. And reluctantly, Youkilis came up the steps to be awknowledged once again by the Fenway Faithful. And that is how the Kevin Youkilis Era ended and the Will Middlebrooks Era began.
Kevin Youkilis gave his heart, soul, and body to the Boston Red Sox and their fans for nine seasons, two in which ended with World Championships. His statistics speak for themselves, as he has been one of the most consistent, productive hitters in Major League baseball over that time. But the Youkah is much more than a gameday statline. His intensity, his effort, and his passion inspired many of his teammates over the years and Red Sox fans everywhere appreciated him for it. When my family went to a game at Fenway, my mother asked why everyone was booing the guy at bat, to which I explained that they were saying "Youk" and that it was out of appreciation for what he does everyday for the Red Sox.
Youkilis has been completely professional about this entire process. His mentorship of his successor Will Middlebrooks will likely be a last gift that he has left for the organization. Middlebrooks has a bright future ahead of him manning the hot corner on a regular basis for the Red Sox hopefully turning out a longlasting, successful career like his predessor.
Kevin Youkilis went out with a bang, and most importantly, just like in many of the games he played for the Red Sox, a win. The Red Sox will certainly miss Youkilis and all that he brought to the table, but will also take comfort in knowing that the hot corner will be in good hands. As a longtime Red Sox fan, Youk, I appreciate everything you did throughout your career, specifically your toughness and passion for the game. Good Luck. And for the last time as a Red Sox, but certainly not the last time ever: