Kevin Youkilis was a Red Sox fan favorite until, suddenly, he wasn’t. That’s what happens when injuries crop up, bat speed slows down, and production dwindles. Youkilis’s struggles were visible in his demeanor in the batter’s box: His practice swings became more manic, his complaints over called strikes more furious, his screams as he popped out more yelpingly painful.
When a player gets down on himself, as Youkilis and, at times, Jon Lester, have done this season, fans, perversely, choose to pile on, adding to the player’s misery. Major league sports is one of the last bastions where the accepted treatment for depression is to berate the sufferers for their weakness.
Athletes accept this. There’s no crying in baseball. Kevin Youkilis felt the cheers of millions, and, later, their wrath. One is compensation for the other. If the script holds, Youkilis, who was traded to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, will benefit from a change of scenery, enjoy a few more decent seasons, and eventually be remembered for what he was in his Red Sox prime: a hero. Players and fans seem to understand that this is the way it goes in baseball, and always will.