Picked-up pieces while wondering if we’re going to see Tim Tebow or Michael Bishop playing quarterback for the Patriots Sunday …
▪ Kevin Youkilis gave the Red Sox 8½ quality seasons. He made three All-Star teams, won a Gold Glove and two World Series, and finished in the top six in MVP voting twice — ranking third in 2008 when he hit .312 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs. He is in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, owns a brewery in California, is married to Tom Brady’s sister, has three children, and spends summertime with Dave O’Brien in the NESN booth.
Oh, and he also is Jewish, which is unusual for a big league baseball player. Just more than 200 of the 23,115 men who have worn big league uniforms are/were Jewish. Youkilis never made much of it when he was playing here, and a lot of us thought he was Greek because “Moneyball” dubbed him “the Greek God of Walks.”
Things changed for Jewish people around the world Oct. 7 when Hamas invaded Israel and slaughtered civilians. Israel subsequently declared a state of war, and antisemitism has been on the rise over the last several weeks. No longer content to stay on the sideline, Youk is using his social media platforms to educate others and dial back the hatred.
“My dad died three years ago, and he was very proud of his Jewish heritage,” Youkilis said from California. “I know he would have spoken out. So for me, it was like, ‘What would my dad do?’ and ‘What would my dad want me to do?’
“I don’t think of myself as a celebrity. I just feel that there’s a lot of Jewish people that are hurting.”
Youkilis’s Twitter avatar is a photo of him wearing his Team Israel baseball cap. In early November, Youk re-posted a tweet featuring a photo of Harvard students surrounding a Jewish student during an anti-Israel protest, and wrote, “I wish I was back in Boston to walk alongside my Jewish brother in this moment where these cowards needed to use a mob mentality to try and intimidate.”
In another tweet, dated Nov. 13, Youkilis wrote, “I’ve had a lot of great convos with Jewish friends & family over the past few weeks. The hatred that has been displayed in public and online has only brought us closer together. A flame has been lit and we’ve never been as proud as we are now of our Jewish heritage.”
“As a baseball player, you develop thick skin from words,” said Youkilis. “I can laugh about some of this stuff online. But some of it is not funny because it’s absolute lies and falsehoods. Oct. 7 will go down as one of the worst days in Jewish history. And the amount of hatred being shown toward Jewish people is astronomical.
“I’ve spoken out about it on my feed, on my Instagram. I’ve known it’s always been there, but it’s been kind of silent. But for some reason this thing on Oct. 7 — which was just disgusting beyond words — was like a steroid for people that feel empowered. And I felt it was time to stand up and step up for the Jewish people. I’m just trying to post positive things.
“Growing up in Cincinnati, I was a minority within a minority, being Jewish and being a baseball player. It was just different in a lot of ways. But one of the great things about coaching with Team Israel in the WBC this year was that a lot of the ballplayers told me that I was their inspiration as a young kid.
“My message now is that we all need to be more educated. Educate yourself. In the Jewish religion, we are taught that idolizing individuals is inappropriate. On social media, people are starting to idolize individuals and take everything they say as facts. So really educate yourself and don’t take somebody else’s word as facts.
“As for all the Jewish people, life’s tough. There are unfortunate times, but you’ve got to dig down deep and hope and believe that we’re all going to get to a better side of this eventually, but it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of fight.
“Just remember that yelling back and forth on social media does no good for yourself or to solve the problem at hand. Try to be positive and bring light to your family and friends and just come together as one and be united.”
▪ Quiz: San Diego’s Blake Snell became the seventh pitcher to win a Cy Young Award in both leagues. Name the other six (answer below).
▪ Think we’re in a little bit of a championship drought here in New England? New York has the Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Devils, Rangers, and Islanders, and the last championship won by any of them was Super Bowl XLVI (remember that one?) when the Giants beat the Patriots, 21-17, on Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. As of Friday, that’s a drought of 4,309 days.
Our last title came on Feb. 3, 2019, when Tom Brady and the Patriots beat the Rams, 13-3, in Atlanta in Super Bowl LIII.
▪ Have the Krafts learned nothing about Boston politics? Back in the 1990s, Bob Kraft was rebuffed when he wanted to build a stadium for the Patriots in South Boston, and a big part of the problem was the family’s failure to involve former Mayor Thomas Menino. The proposal to build in Southie never got off the ground.
When John Henry & Co. bought the Red Sox in 2001, CEO Larry Lucchino forged a long alliance with Menino, which worked out well in the ensuing decades every time the Sox wanted to make improvements to Fenway Park or utilize city properties in the footprint around it.
Given this history, it was amazing to read last week that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was left out of negotiations between the Kraft Group and the city of Everett over a proposed soccer stadium near the Boston border.
“It is unusual that a project of this scale and impact on the City of Boston land would be proposed without any outreach or conversation with the city,” said a Wu spokesperson after the state legislature failed to reach an agreement on the stadium proposal.
▪ Got a good laugh when former Patriot Matt Chatham tweeted displeasure with the Bengals injury report after quarterback Joe Burrow came out of a Thursday night loss with a sprained wrist.
“If it’s determined that Burrow’s injury was known and hidden, every NFL endorsed wagered cent that changed hands … should be refunded immediately … by the league,” tweeted Chatham. “Or they deserved to be sued.”
That’s rich coming from someone who played six seasons for Bill Belichick, who habitually makes a farce of the injury report. Patriots fanboys who’ve taken great pride in the team’s grudge against the league have no business crying about lost cash because a team was not forthcoming about players’ health status. That’s why it’s called “gambling.”
▪ I still haven’t quite gotten over Joe Mazzulla’s semi-hostile response to a fairly benign question by the Globe’s Gary Washburn after the Celtics lost in Philadelphia a couple of weeks back. When Wash asked about the Celtics perhaps taking too many 3-pointers in the rare loss, the Celtics’ 35-year-old coach came back with, “I just finished reading a great article that you wrote in 2016 — ‘The Celtics shot too many threes.’ What’s your fascination with too many threes for the last seven years?”
Whoa. How does Mazzulla happen to be reading a seven-year-old Globe column on the night the Celtics are playing the 76ers? It gave me chills. Mazzulla was an assistant coach at Fairmont State in 2016.
Now I’m afraid to ask Red Sox boss Craig Breslow why he has yet to pay big dough for some free agent talent. I’m fearful that Breslow is going to say, “I was just reading a great article you wrote from the 2014 Giants-Royals World Series when you said that the Red Sox should sign Giants free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval to a big contract as soon as the Series is over.”
▪ The Red Sox have informed spring training season ticket-holders that they will get free parking at JetBlue Park this Grapefruit League season.
▪ The Sox are going back to Springfield for “Winter Weekend,” but there has been no mention of another “Town Hall.” Hmmmm.
▪ Look for a big baseball Hall of Fame class in the summer of 2024. Todd Helton (no, thanks) likely will be enshrined, probably with Billy Wagner and first-time candidates Adrián Beltré and Joe Mauer. Lou Piniella has a good chance to be voted in by the veterans committee.
▪ The Oakland A’s started playing Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” after home victories back in 1981. Kool drummer/co-founder George “Funky” Brown died this past week, and news of his death emerged the same day that MLB owners voted to approve the move of the A’s to Las Vegas.
▪ Colleague Kevin Paul Dupont, a hockey Hall of Famer, says it’s time to retire the number of Bruins winger Wayne Cashman. Agreed. I am a hockey know-nothing, and 50 years later, I remember that Cashman wore No. 12.
▪ Kudos to the Newburyport High School field hockey team for scoring three goals against Watertown in a 4-3 state championship loss in Worcester last Saturday. Watertown won its third consecutive state crown and 21st overall for coach Eileen Donahue, but the bigger headline could have been Newburyport snapping Watertown’s streak of 41 shutouts.
Watertown finished 2023 with a 22-0 record and came into the state final with 132 goals and zero allowed.
▪ Happy to report that after early-season hysteria about Deion Sanders and Colorado, the Buffaloes will finish last in the Pac-12, just as they did last season. After they were destroyed, 56-14, by Washington State last weekend — Colorado’s seventh loss in eight games — the myth of Coach Prime is officially punctured. Wonder if Sanders is still “keeping receipts”?
▪ Imagine a Division 1 Super Bowl championship game at Gillette Stadium between Xaverian and St. John’s Prep (Danvers) next Wednesday, six days after the traditional rivals played their Thanksgiving game, a 23-21 Xaverian win.
▪ Holiday wishes go out to the family of former Worcester Telegram scribe Tim Connolly, who enjoyed a 21-year career at the T&G, taught journalism at Assumption and Clark for 30 years, and died in May.
▪ What would Kraft give to have Taylor Swift in his suite for the Dec. 18 Patriots-Chiefs game on “Monday Night Football”?
▪ Quiz answer: Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Max Scherzer.