…kind of like Kevin Youkilis did last night.
The hefty Red Sox first baseman was drilled last night by Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello, and Youk decided he’d rather chuck his helmet at the pitcher and sprint to the mound than jog down to first.
I’m split on how I feel about Youkilis’s charge.
On the one hand, I give the first baseman credit for going for the form tackle (though, watching the video, I somehow doubt Youkilis played much linebacker in high school).
My buddy Zak pointed out that the emotional Youkilis may have been trying to send a message to his team, to wake them up after being swept by the New York Yankees over the weekend. If that thought entered Youkilis’s enraged mind at all, I give him credit for trying to shake things up.
Unfortunately for Youkilis and the Red Sox, the other shoe dropped this afternoon when the first baseman was given a five-game suspension.
Take a gander at Youkilis’s numbers:
.311 BA, .424 OBP, .564 SLG, 66 RBIs
Youkilis is Boston’s best hitter. His team just finished a four game series against the Yankees in which the offense managed to scratch out a measly eight runs.
The Sox have won two straight versus Detroit at Fenway and need to go on a bit of a run to keep up with the Yankees, who are suddenly 5-1/2 games ahead in the American League East. Texas, meanwhile, is only 1-1/2 games behind Boston in the Wild Card standings.
Youkilis has appealed his suspension and will continue to play until that appeal is heard, but the last thing the Red Sox need right now is to be without their first baseman for five games in the middle of a playoff race.
Youkilis’s judgment — and tackling form — are both up for second guessing at this point.
Just for fun, let’s assume for a moment that Youkilis charged that mound trying to rile up his teammates. Even if the move lacks wisdom in the middle of a playoff race, what if a player from a last place team did that sort of thing in midst of a losing streak or rough patch?
A team like, say, the Baltimore Orioles?
There’s significantly less at stake for a team like the Birdies, especially if there’s any chance that the act could snap a team out of a comatose state.
If Nick Markakis were to be suspended five games for starting a fight, would it really make that big a difference in the season?
The 2009 Birds are a last place team whether Kakes plays 162 games or 157. Whether he drives in 100 runs or 97.
Now, before anyone starts wagging their finger in my general direction saying that professional ballplayers should keep their cool and be role models for the kids that play the game, let me be clear that I’m not exactly suggesting that there is wisdom in starting a fight on a baseball diamond.
All I’m suggesting is that the Birds do something — anything — to revive the fanbase by reviving themselves in the last month and a half of this season.
All the top prospects in the world don’t make a bit of a difference if this team goes into its usual September Swoon. The team needs to show some kind of improvement. The O’s need to throw the fans a bone.
Maybe throwing a batting helmet is the first step.