October 28, 2007

THE TITO FACTOR:

Youkilis a professional sitter, too (Jackie MacMullan, October 28, 2007, Boston Globe)

He has been asked to put his bat, his glove, and his ego on the shelf.

Kevin Youkilis was the designated sitter last night for Game 3 of the World Series, and it was the most difficult role he has assumed in his 3 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox.

Imagine completing an entire major league season without committing an error. Then, imagine hitting .500 in the American League Championship Series against Cleveland, including delivering multiple clutch hits.

Consider the fact you are batting .396 in the postseason, and have done absolutely everything your manager and teammates could possibly ask of you - including controlling your sometimes mercurial temper.

So you are two games away from celebrating your second World Series championship in four years, except you were not a pivotal part of 2004, because you were just a kid along for the ride, soaking up the moment so that when your time came, you'd be ready.

Your time has come. You are ready.

But you have to take a seat.


What the benching of Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp and, more significantly, the grace with which they accepted it, demonstrates is the inestimable value to the Sox of Terry Francona, who is, quite correctly, criticized for his game management.

We've reached an odd point in sports where the competing demands placed on managers/coaches--game management, talent evaluation, handling a team of multimillionaire stars, and dealing with saturation media--are such different skills that there is almost no one who does all of them well. As it happens, because of the daily nature of baseball and the fact that you may end up playing 180 games, you can get away with being weak at the first skill as long as you're strong in the others. Whereas, in football, you can get away with being bad at the last, so long as you excel at the others (a point, it just so happens, that the Patriots coach illustrates).

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2007 9:53 AM
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