Over at Grantland, Michael Schur presents this Requiem for a Hardass:
In his prime, Youk was an elite hitter, and he fielded two positions quite well. His OPS+ from 2008 to 2010 were 144, 146, and 157 (all OBP-heavy), and over those three years he was among the five or so very best hitters in most ways that matter. He was one of the best players in the game. But what made him special was how weird it was that this was true.
Kevin Youkilis is one of the most oddly shaped human beings in professional athletics. His torso is giant and cylindrical — he looks like a cartoon poor person wearing a barrel. He is completely bald — like, aggressively bald, like he hates hair — except for a fiery red goatee bush that tumbles out of his face like Play-Doh from a fun factory. When he hits, he stands with his feet so close together the ump could tip him over with one quick index-finger jab to the sternum — an action that must have been tempting for many umps over the years — and as he raises the bat above his head and aims the barrel back toward the pitcher in a manner any Little League coach would surely curtail (“No, Kevin, not like that, that’s all wrong … just … is your dad here? I need to talk to him”), his hands are a foot apart on the handle of the bat, and he then slowly slides them toward each other as the pitcher moves through his delivery. It’s fucking insane. (“Kevin? Buddy? Hands together, buddy. See? Like this? … Is your dad here?”) From this stevedore’s frame, alopecic head, and just completely goofy stance came a truly elite ballplayer. Who is also kind of a dick.
[Photo Credit: AP]