Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis held his annual children's charity fund raiser Thursday night during which he had some surprising statements on the team's late-season collapse that held them out of the playoffs and stated that the media's coverage of the team at the end of the year was a "witch hunt."
Not only did Boston get off to a 2-10 start to the season but when it came time to make a push for the post season, the Red Sox, who were predicted to win the American League Pennant, went 7-20 through their final 27 games of the season, keeping them out of the playoffs. Youkilis was out for the last two weeks of the season because of injuries including a strained groin, hip bursitis and a hernia, but that didn't keep him from noticing the breakdown of the team and how the Red Sox were being covered by the media.
"I was surprised more about the public things that were said, people coming up with stories, no sources, things like that," Youkilis said. "It kind of seemed like it was a witch hunt - what player's doing this, what player did that wrong? We're a team. We lose as a team, and we all failed. There's not one player that didn't fail because we lost, and we all failed."
The problems in the locker room weren't necessarily apparent through the majority of the season because, according to Youkilis, "winning heals all wounds," but when things fell apart at the end of the season he said players didn't have the right attitude. That's something he hopes the coaching staff and the players can change before the next season starts.
"I think this year, with the coaching staff that's coming back, they saw things we can change, and we can sit down and talk about it. It's just playing the game and not worrying about other stuff and the media hype and things that are going on. Because if you go crazy with that stuff, it's going to eat you all up."
Being favored to win can add a lot of stress to a team's players as they put too much pressure on themselves. With some offseason moves, including the blockbuster signings including Albert Pujoles by the Angels and Prince Fielder by the Tigers, both American League teams, the Red Sox won't have to worry about being favored to win.
"It's kind of great that we're not counted to be the team that's going to win 120 games," Youkilis said. "If we can keep the hype off us and just keep the hype on winning ballgames, that's the good hype."