BOSTON (CBS) – I tried to take a break from the news cycle over the last few days, but if you’re a Red Sox fan, you couldn’t ignore the big story of the weekend, the departure of Kevin Youkilis, the only member of the team besides Big Papi remaining from the 2004 curse-ending squad.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

And on my way up from the Cape yesterday, I heard quite a few fans making disparaging remarks about Youkilis as he heads for Chicago.

Most of those were based around the contention that Youkilis was somehow a clubhouse “jerk,” because he was too competitive, too emotional about winning and losing, too uptight.

And I must say, he did come across as a bit of a jerk in one of his final interviews, an encounter with Jonny Miller of WBZ NewsRadio 1030 who earned a vulgar reprimand from Youkilis simply for asking pertinent questions Youkilis didn’t want to answer.

This was surprising, because Youkilis of all people should appreciate someone trying to do their job under difficult circumstances.

That pretty much sums up Youkilis’ entire career, during which he made himself into one of the best players in baseball despite being chronically overlooked, underrated, and underpaid.

Youkilis has been hampered by injuries in recent times, and his game has suffered. But I fail to see why anyone wouldn’t want a guy like Youkilis on their team.

I’m not second-guessing the Red Sox brain trust – their record over the past decade speaks for itself. But Youkilis may be the most complete baseball player the Sox have ever had.

Written off as “chubby” and not athletic enough early on, Youkilis proved that hard work and brains matter as much or more than pure athleticism. He raised the base on balls to an art form; made himself into one of the best fielders ever; and set the standard for competitive spirit.

After he scuffled in the dugout in 2008 with laconic teammate Manny Ramirez, Youkilis explained their disagreement this way: “We have two different approaches to the game. Winning and losing isn’t life and death to Manny.”

This is someone we’re happy to see leave town? No, not real Red Sox fans.

If Youkilis was such a jerk, I say, we could use a few more jerks just like him.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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