According to Grantland writer and Red Sox fan Michael Schur, the recently-departed Youkilis is a dick, but one belovwed by how own team. And he compares him in this regard to several players, but most often to our own Paul O'Neill...
Alot of winning baseball teams have one guy on their team who's kind of a dick. They run hard, and play hard, and curse a lot, and get a lot of standing ovations for their "old school" manner of play. They get into fights, sometimes with their own teammates, but that's because they're "passionate." When something bad happens, they make a huge show out of destroying water coolers, because they are super-intense and everyone needs to realize that. There has never been a correctly called third strike on these men, and when the home-plate ump deigns to call that fucking pitch a strike, are you kidding me?, the gentlemen in question don't just get hot and pop off. They act as though their very honor as human beings has been called into question. They act like Harrison Ford in a movie in which someone announces the intention to harm his family.
The 1990s Yankees had Paul O'Neill, who was probably the greatest possible match of attitude and city (New York will embrace a winning hardass like no other town). (1) But second to New York and Paulie O'Intensity, in the modern era, are Kevin Youkilis and the 2004-12 Red Sox.
I imagine most people who are not Red Sox fans, or Billy Beane, hate Kevin Youkilis. He is Paul O'Neill reincarnated — intense, loud, aggressive, blustery. Always shouting at umps and always thinking he is right. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, has something to prove, etc., etc. I blame no one for disliking him. I get it. This particular breed of baseball player is liked only by those who root for the uniform he wears. (2)
(1) Remember, this is the city where Jimmy Connors once called a chair umpire "an abortion," twice, during this nation's national tennis championship, and wasn't given so much as a warning. Or even a "Could you please stop calling me an abortion, sir?"
(2) My wife, who does not care about baseball, was once introduced to Paul O'Neill at a restaurant, came home, reported that she thought he was "very handsome," and we got into one of the biggest fights of our entire relationship. I am very mature. (This was pre-2004, though, so that totally explains it.)
As a Yankee fan and Boston hater, I don't think the two players are similar and not just because I do indeed hate Kevin Youkilis and adored Paul O'Neill (which would actually validate the opinion of the author) mainly because I don't remember members of the Yankees hating O'Neill (despite what Schur alludes to) whereas we all know a lot of Red Sox players thought that Youk was an ass.
Also, I don't think the Yankees would have ever traded O'Neill, though I admit that may be more a function of a front office comparison than that of the players. Paul may have started in Cincinnatti but once he put on pinstripes, he was a Yankee and he was a New Yorker. If Boston can just trade Youk, how can the two players even compare?
Of course, I may be biased. As I said, I do hate the guy and think he is a dick and am glad he never played and probably won't play in pinstripes. And comparing him to Paulie is just blasphemy for me. As in totally incorrect, wrong, and I want to ask the author if he's like to take it outside to discuss it.
Okay, maybe not that... But still, what do you guys think?