I like this interview with Kevin Youkilis in the Daily News, as he appears totally unwilling to take the bait we usually see laid for new members of the Yankees, especially ones who had a long tenure with another team.
You know the bait I mean: interviews which seem geared toward getting the player to talk about how special it is to be a Yankee and how much different and better and important it is. There’s almost a propaganda aspect to it, actually. The first spring training interview with a new Yankee player is the first chance the tabloids or talk radio get to place the new guy in the True Yankee Continuum.
Here Youkilis, while sounding totally professional about his new team and new challenges, and while handling questions about hot button topics like A-Rod, Joba Chamberlain and The Rivalry, doesn’t lose perspective about his career:
“To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house, to say I’d just throw it out the window, that’s not true,” Youkilis said. “I’ll always be a Red Sock.”
It’ll be interesting to watch how the Yankees media reacts to and treats Youkilis this season. I imagine there’s a pretty big temptation to play up the Boston-New York stuff. Maybe even to use this quote against him somehow. But to me it sounds like he’s going to navigate it OK. Neither falling into the Yankees genuflection many expect of new arrivals nor allowing himself to be portrayed as some sort of heel.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .