Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis checks in with his latest diary for ESPNBoston.com. In this edition, he gets into the Celtics, Manny’s return to Boston, his memories of the draft and more (as told to Louise K. Cornetta). Note: This diary was done this past weekend during the Red Sox's series with the Phillies.
While I'm from Ohio, I'm not a Cavs fan. Cincinnati and Cleveland really don't get along too well. I root for the Celtics. I've been following them. Loved seeing that huge Game 4 win over the Lakers. Doc Rivers did a great job managing his bench and letting those guys that were doing well stay in the game. We were in Cleveland and got to see the end of the fourth quarter. We lost, but something positive happened with the Celtics winning. I like watching Ray Allen play. Rondo is fun to watch too. But I'd have to say, Allen is my top player that I like the most. I like his overall persona on the court. He's an unbelievable shooter and seems like a great leader. Also, he and I have the same number, so I have to root for him in that sense. As I said, the bench really won it for them on Thursday.
In baseball it's different for us, especially in the American League, because you don't really use the bench. Maybe the bullpen, if you call that a bench, is used a little bit and can be huge. In basketball, you have to rest guys, whereas in the playoffs for us there's the nine starters that you throw out there and just play. In the National League it's probably different with double switches and all that. I don't really know anyone personally on the Celtics. I mean, not on a text message or call level. But I've certainly ran into them at events … like Ray Allen's wife is a great lady that I've gotten to know through our charity work with diabetes.
I can't talk about the Lakers without mentioning Kobe. He's a great player. He's probably one of the best players to play the game and is pretty phenomenal to watch. He'll be a Hall of Famer easily because he's such a special player. My prediction stays the same because I had the Celtics in seven before the Finals even began and I am sticking with that. Celtics in seven.
So everyone knows, my back is fine. Do not worry about me. Instead let's talk some baseball. In baseball, there's a lot of talk about stats. I'm not really that into them because they all play themselves out at the end of the year. You can't really worry about them. I don't set goals at the beginning of the year like I want to hit a certain average or something. My goal is to stay healthy and play. I mean, everyone wants to hit .300. I think that's the biggest stat that most guys look at. If you hit .300, it's a good year. But you can't really control that, you've just got to go out there and play. If you're in the lineup every day and you feel healthy, then most players are going to do alright.
I've had a good start to the season. At times everything is clicking on all cylinders, but at times they're not. It's a long season. Some days you're going to be good and some days you're going to be bad. You never really know what you're going to get. So you've got to go out there each day and hope for the best, try to put together as many good bats as possible. If you do that, you're going to put yourself in the best position to have things click more than not.
I get asked why I hit so well against lefties. The honest answer is, I don't know. Maybe it's the angle that they throw at, the way they pitch, but I don't really have a secret to it. With lefties, it could be the way the ball comes out of their hand. I try to hit righties just as well. There's no secret to it. Some days there are lefties you face that are just filthy and you don't get any hits. I don't know overall if there is a reason why I've been hitting them so well. Maybe it's one of those stats that just is in my favor.
We're coming off a road trip where we lost two games that we probably should have won, but you can't really control that except for going out like we did on Friday and winning 12-2, that was huge. To come back home and get a big win like that and let the bullpen rest up a little bit with good starting pitching with what Lackey did, it's just good to have a win like that. We have a nine game homestand, which is big and that's a good way to start it off. We'll need to put together some more big wins this week.
This weekend, Manny returns to Boston. I don't know, what do you think the reaction will be? That's a good one. This is tough. I'd say the fan reaction will be mixed. There will be a lot of mixed emotions for that. I think he's one of the best right-handed hitters to play the game. He's a phenom in the game of baseball who has done some amazing things. There's not going to be too many hitters like him. He's probably a Hall of Famer in that sense. Everyone has their favorite Manny being Manny moment. For me, it was in Baltimore when he high-fived the fan. That was unbelievable and I couldn't believe he did that. High fiving the fan is number one and then we got a double-play at first. Pedey and I were yelling at him, but he couldn't hear us because it was so loud. He did throw the ball to first, so we got the double-play. That was pretty funny. I'd say definitely the funniest one.
There's been a lot of baseball in the news lately. I'll give you my take on some of the stories. Lots of talk on Stephen Strasburg's debut. I only saw the highlights, but pretty impressive. He throws well. My own debut game was special to me because I hit a homer. It's a pretty good memory and I hit it in my second at-bat. It was a long time ago now. It's always special for anyone who gets to play at the Major League level to play in their first game. Hopefully it's a good one where you get a hit or pitch well. They always say it's easier to get to the Major Leagues then it is to stay. You're hoping the debut is good, but it's all about what happens after the debut and trying to stay up here.
Another story was Jim Joyce's safe call to end [Armando] Galarraga's perfect game. Jim is a nice guy and he manned up to it. It's unfortunate but he did everything in his power to apologize. Galarraga handled everything really well too. It's just one of those unfortunate things for Galarraga and Jim Joyce. I think everyone has kind of moved on. Hopefully we're not still trying to beat a dead horse here because you can see by his emotions he felt really badly about it and did the right thing in saying it was a blown call. Bad calls are tough. In the playoffs last year against the Angels, I was at first base and there were two calls that the guy was easily out and the umpire called him safe. I was pretty upset the first time. But Tito came out and argued both times, so I didn’t have to argue anymore. The second time, I was just over it because the call was so bad again. It happens.
Draft day also happened in baseball. My memory of being drafted is I was in college taking a final then came home and about an hour after my final my agent called me to tell me I've been drafted by the Red Sox. It was a stressful day of not knowing what was going to happen. I was a senior and that was it, either I was getting drafted or I wasn't. It was good that I got drafted and have gotten to be a Red Sox. My parents were the first people I called to tell the good news.
All-Star voting is still going on and I am not going to be a self-promoter. Not my style. If the fans vote for me, they'll vote me in. It's a great feeling to be voted in by the fans. But I am not here to self-promote, I'm just here to play baseball.