Bobby vs. Youk: Does it matter?


Bobby vs. Youk: Does it matter?

Happy Monday, everyone! But before we get too excited about the start of another sweaty work week, theres one very serious matter to attend to.

First of all, if there are children in the vicinity of your computer, you might want to cover their eyes and ears. If you have a panic room, even better. Lockem up!

OK, ready? Here we go:

So yesterday before the Red SoxRays game, Bobby Valentine was asked a series of questions about Kevin Youkilis.

Did his relationship with Youk affect the third basemans play? Did he feel that Youk had issues with him? Had he ever seen Youkilis naked in the clubhouse and if so, would he care to elaborate?

OK, I made that last one up, but at some point during the real Q&A Valentine unleashed a bomb, one that still has the world buzzing nearly 24 hours later, and here it is:

I think that the comment that I made early (in the season about Youkilis not being 'into it'), he made a big issue out of. And I don't think he ever wanted to get over it.


Everyone all right? If so, its safe to take off the childrens blindfolds. We made it! But now weve got to deal with the aftermath. More specifically, one ginormous question:

Is this really a big deal?

Now obviously we all agree that Valentine should have kept his mouth shut. Regardless of how many questions he was asked or how desperate the media was to coax him into saying something stupid, he shouldnt have taken the bait. Instead, he should have known that whatever he said was going to be blown out of proportion and instead grabbed a page out of the Book of Belichick: Errrr, guys. Kevin Youkilis isnt on this team anymore. I only want to talk about the guys in our clubhouse. And that would have been that. We wouldnt be having this conversation.

But Bobby V. being Bobby V., he had to comment. And the Boston media being the Boston media, we had to overreact and turn it into big to-do. But is it? Is there anything in Valentines quote that we werent already aware of? Anything thats even remotely shocking or outlandish?

We already know that these guys dont like each other. We know that Bobby V. had every right to be upset with Youk in the spring. We know that Youk had every right to be upset over being called out. We know that Youk never got over it. It was obvious he never got over it. Its obvious that he still hasnt gotten over it. I mean, maybe he hasnt been as blatant about his dislike for Valentine in the media, but Im still waiting for Youks first interview from Chicago where he doesnt go out of his way to praise the White Sox coaching staff. Thats not an accident.

And to borrow another line from the BoB: It is what it is. This happens all the time. Sometimes people dont like each other. So lets just let them not like each other. After all, Youk doesnt even play here anymore. In terms of how it affects this team, Valentines shaky relationship with Kevin Youkilis is about as relevant as his relationship with Joe Maddon, Buster Olney and non-robot umpires. Whatever.

Instead, let's talk about the fact that the Sox had a solid start to the second half. Sure, it could have been better, but well take two out of three in Tampa. Theres no shame in beating Jeremy Hellickson and James Shields. Not to mention, Jacoby Ellsburys back, and with three hits yesterday, is already getting comfortable. Carl Crawford will be back tonight, and even if youre not drowning in optimism over what he might bring to this team, you never know. For some reason, there are a lot of people around here who take offense to mentioning that despite all their struggles, the Red Sox are still in the playoff hunt, but Im not one of them. I have no problem pleasantly pointing out that the Sox are only 1.5 games out of a playoff spot.

But more than anything, in terms of tonight, and regardless of what was said before yesterday's game, let's celebrate Kevin Youkilis' time in Boston.

Of course, not the last few months, or even the last two years. I think we've all just accepted that no one was at their best during those times, and that we're better off forgetting the immediate past and focusing on all the good times. That there's no reason to make it about the BS that's existed between Youk and his manager or Youk and his teammates. That tonight, it should only be about one thing: Youk and the fans.

And we'll feel that tonight when he takes the plate for the first time.

In those 15, 20 or who knows, 30 seconds, we'll all remember how much he meant to this city, and how little Bobby Valentine's super-important and controversial quote means to anything.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Cubs reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs reach first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.