Bobby vs. Youk: Does it matter?

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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.

Woah!

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 rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”