Countdown: 19 days to spring training

Today is the second day of our countdown to February 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp in Tampa. Each day between now and then, Andrew Marchand, Mark Simon and myself will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. Today, we examine the newest New York Youkee, er, Yankee.


1. HE PLAYS HARD. That is, when he plays. Youk hasn’t been able to play in more than 140 games, or come to the plate more than 600 times since 2008. But when he’s out there, even Yankee fans have to agree he gives his all.

2.OTHER TEAMS HATE HIM. This always works considering the us-against-them mentality of most sports fans. We may hate the guy when he’s one of them, but we love him when he’s one of us, simply because he’s one of us. Look how well it worked for Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, and-- dare I say it? -- Alex Rodriguez.

3.HE’S PATIENT AND GETS ON BASE A LOT. Those of you who will miss Nick Swisher’s endless at-bats will find a soulmate in Youkilis, who sees a lot of pitches, and despite his declining power numbers, still retains his ability to draw walks.

4.HE LOOKS LIKE DAVID WELLS. Well, sort of, and once he trims down that hedgehog on his face as per team rules, he will be the spitting image of ol’ Boomer, from the upper deck at least. And remember a lot more people in the stands look like Youkilis -- or Wells, for that matter -- than look like A-Rod or Derek Jeter. He's a guy the average fan can identify with.

5.HE WILL MAKE A PUBLIC SHOW OF BURYING THE HATCHET WITH JOBA. The same way Clemens, Jeter and Jorge Posada had a highly-publicized love-in at Yankees spring training in 1999, Youk and Joba Chamberlain will make sure to be seen shaking hands, laughing together and professing their mutual affection while vowing to work together to bring another World Championship to the Bronx. And of course, we will all swallow it whole.

6.HE’S NOT A-ROD. Considering how deeply Yankee fans seemed to hate their own third baseman by the end of the 2012 playoffs, Youkilis has got to start out more popular by comparision. Doesn’t he?

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Be honest, do you think you can bring yourself to love the sight of Kevin Youkilis in Yankee pinstripes?