At the end of the day, Kevin Youkilis enjoyed the game.

At the end of the day, Kevin Youkilis enjoyed the game.

Kevin Youkilis had a temper.

That much was obvious enough when he nearly got into a brawl in the dugout with Manny Ramirez in 2008, or when he charged the mound and threw his helmet after being hit by Detroit’s Rick Porcello in 2009. He was fiery and pissed off and sometimes mean about his at-bats. He grimaced and sweat and dug in for every pitch he could possibly see. In 292 at-bats, he saw a 3-0 count and never once swung the bat at the next pitch. He was in for more and not looking to cheat himself out of a possible hit.

That’s the general picture of Kevin Youkilis, the baseball player, I have in my head. But for specific memories, I usually zoom in on a more genial one that showed Kevin Youkilis, the guy who got his kicks playing a kids’ game.

The Mets were in Boston to face the Red Sox on a Friday night. About 3,000 miles away, I was sitting in R.T. O’Sullivan’s in Mesa, Ariz., with friends to watch the game — the 4 p.m. start always meant an excuse to head out of work a little early for happy hour, plenty of appetizers and a taste of home via the Sox.

In the fifth inning, Johan Santana pitched inside to Youkilis and clipped him on the elbow. Youkilis dropped the bat, grabbed his arm, and walking towards first base with a smile, he let Santana know what he thought:

“Shit, man. That hurt!” (more…)

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