Tag Archives: Kevin Youkilis

The Youker Files: In which I accidentally fart during yoga class with Mrs. Youkilis-Brady

Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

While battling a bad back on the disabled list, Kevin Youkilis experienced an unconventional breakthrough that may save his career. (Photo from NESN.com).

As many of you probably already know, my spine has been a bit…embattled lately. The Red Sox put me on the disabled list last week and I’ve been enjoying watching Will Middlebrooks take his first round of major league at-bats. I bruised the poor kid up pretty good after he hit that grand slam on Sunday for his first major league home run. Just a ton of congratulatory punches and noogies and stuff.

But I gotta be honest. Not being out on the field battling with the guys is tough. I was just starting to feel like my swing was coming around and I could definitely feel one of those two-homer, nine-ribbie games coming any day when all of a sudden my lower back started barking at me.

My new wife, Tom Brady’s sister Julie, could tell I was in a bit of a funk. So she suggested I try to loosen my back up by going to this early-morning yoga class with her. I got pretty mad at her for assuming I was one of those effeminate, metrosexual meditation-type dudes and we had our first shouting match since getting hitched last month. Once it was over though, I realized the best way to smooth things over was to just agree to take the stupid class with her and smile my way through the stupid thing – I figured I’d take some of the pent-up aggression out on my pecs and do some incline bench presses in the weight room once it was over.

I’ve always despised the people who walk down the street with those rolled up yoga mats. It’s like, ‘C’mon, you really want everybody to know you’re going to meditate and all that, huh?’. Plus, they’re way too little to properly pad my body from the hard floor. I’m a big guy. So I borrowed one of those tri-folding floor mats from the Red Sox clubhouse. It’s about 20 square feet or so and I had to pull the back seat of my Range Rover down, but it wound up fitting just fine.

We got to the gym around 6 a.m. and I figured there wouldn’t be too many people in a class that early. But the room was chock-full and I was pretty happy I had brought my tri-fold mat. It gave me a little extra space and, after backing off some women who tried to overlay their roll-up mats on top of mine with a couple dirty looks, I was in the clear with enough room to maneuver without getting elbowed somewhere unsavory.

So anyway the class was a cinch at first. We were doing all these lame stretching and contortion techniques with our bodies. The instructor had a bunch of fancy names for them and I kind of freelanced a little bit since some of them were kind of ridiculous. Per team doctor’s orders, I’m not supposed to bend my knees past certain angles, twist myself into funny positions or sit on the ground like a dainty Lotus flower (OK, fine, that last rule is my own…). Also, some of the things they expected us to do were just plain crazy. I could tell just by the name of the Fetus and One-Legged King Pigeon positions that they weren’t anything I wanted to be a part of.

Overall, though, I thought things were moving along pretty well. I played along for some of the nuttier positions even though I felt a bit vulnerable–like some sort of wild female animal presenting herself to a male suitor in the jungle. (I mean, c’mon, laying on my stomach and grabbing my ankles from behind is a “bow posture”?)

I was seriously crushing the Crescent Moon position (picture me gloving a bad hop at third that almost bounces like three feet over my head, all the while I’m on one knee and bent slightly backward).

But, of course, bad luck just had to strike at that very moment.

I’d be lying if I told you I had any control over what happened next. The instructor kept telling us to listen to ourselves breathing. In. Out. In. Out. I could feel oxygen rushing through my veins and it felt like I could practically see carbon dioxide pouring out of me as I exhaled. It was a cleansing, Zen experience and all that stuff. It was like I had stepped out of my third-baseman’s physique and was sitting in a box seat, observing the shell of my inner soul reach a scraggly peak of utter consciousness by hitting a 500-foot home run off Roy Halladay.

I felt liberated and at complete ease with my baseball career. I couldn’t have imagined anything more soul-enhancing except maybe hitting a grand slam in the World Series to walkoff with the MVP trophy and pig-piling on home plate with all my teammates like a hoard of little kids and then dousing each other in gallons of champagne.

So yeah. It was feeling like a real poignant moment in my life.

And then…..well, I farted.

Try to be mature about it, you guys. I wish the rest of my yoga class could have been at least. Instead, all the women around me, including my lovely new wife, turned around and glared at me like I was some sort of inhuman piece of garbage. I know it didn’t exactly seep out gracefully, but there was no reason for people to get all emotional about the whole thing. I’ve never felt so low or embarrassed, especially once they started pointing and laughing.

It was like striking out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of the World Series on one of those just big, violent cuts that aims for the fences but ends up buried in the catcher’s mitt. I mean, I went from having images of hitting a baseball over everything on Landsdowne Street to swinging and missing at strike three and hearing one big Bronx cheer.

I guess that’s what farting in the middle of yoga class feels like. In just five short years, I’ve gone from being voted third in the 2008 AL MVP voting to getting snickered at by a bunch of trailmix-eating yoga chicks. I felt so disgraced that I pretended I was out of water and walked out of the room. I hid out in the far back corner of the weight room on one of the leg-press machines for a while but I was too distraught to put up more than a few hundred pounds.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the whole thing and I know I shouldn’t be ashamed. I reached a level of consciousness and bodily harmony that those girls just don’t understand. My mind feels so clear and my body has a brand new spring in it.

Hopefully, this little story clears up any lingering doubts of my ability. I’m not just telling you guys this because it’s a contract year and Middlebrooks is mashing the ball all over the field. When I get back out there, I’m going to murder major league pitching with my swing. I’m just mentally ready to outclass my opponents. And while my defensive first-step may be slower than in my prime, I can anticipate where the batter is going to hit the ball just using my new understanding of the universe. So maybe the whole experience wasn’t a waste time, you know?

Farting that day in yoga class seemed to just release all those negative toxins that weren’t doing my body any good. It may have been why my back was feeling so sore and inflexible in the first place.

So thank you to my lovely wife, Tom Brady’s sister. All you fans out there can forget about any third-base controversy. I’ve seen the light and you’ll see it too: I’ll be back on the field tattooing baseballs real soon.

The Youker Files: Marrying Tom Brady’s sister

Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Red Sox first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

Kevin Youkilis confirms that he recently threw down a marriage proposal on Tom Brady's sister. She said yes. (Photo from USA Today).

Alright, so yeah, guys. I’m engaged to Tom Brady’s sister. I mean, big deal, right?

I guess I should extend a big middle finger to those Inside Track cows for ruining my news. Those chicks need to take some classes in, I don’t know, social etiquette or something.

Now that I got that out of the way – I gotta admit it was a pretty passionate moment proposing to Tom Brady’s sister. And this is coming from a guy who has had his share of passionate moments. In terms of just raw, blood-flowing emotion, asking Tom Brady’s sister to marry me was right up there for me with that argument I got in with Manny in the dugout a few years ago. You never forget those kinds of things.

Tom Brady’s sister and me (I told her it’s totally cool if she calls me KY20) have been dating for like a year. It’s been freaking awesome. I feel like she totally understands me, you know?

Her brother’s this kick-ass athlete for a Boston sports team (the Patriots) and so am I, so she gets that. Plus, just like Tommy, I get extracurricular attention from some Hollywood stuff (yeah, I was in a scene doing my thing at the plate in Moneyball, which is nominated for a gazillion Oscars). Also, she realizes I’m not a bad person just because I’ve broken a few sets of china after a tough day at the plate. Collateral damage. It just comes with the territory.

Oh yeah. My chin’s a little bit bigger and more muscular, but I’m also super-dedicated in the weight-room. Sound familiar?

I’m a Cincy guy so I can definitely say that Tom’s a cool dude to have as a brother-in-law even though he’s no Boomer Esaison.

The ring. I got a diamond one. It was from some boutique or galleria in the mall. There was a lot of really nice furniture inside and all the people there were really nice to me. They called me “boss” and “ace” and stuff, but not in that patronizing way that a lot of people have that make me want to punch them in the face really hard. It was all totally on the level.

I thought I was going to have to bring up the fact that I was in Milk Money to get them to offer free ring-sizing, but they just gave it away for free anyway. I definitely took them for a ride. I think I’ll send them some Sox tickets or something special like one of my old bats that has teeth-marks all over it (I struck out three times in a game in Yankee Stadium last June…I’m done with that piece of lumber).

I’ll keep the details of the proposal private. I wasn’t real nervous about giving Tom Brady’s sister the ring, though. Facing pitchers like Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia is way more intimidating because it seems like they always manage to buzz one or two heaters right near my face every time I step in against them. So for me, proposing isn’t that much different than just taking one for the team. A beanball to the neck is just as good as a hit.

I got a cortisone shot right before I did the deed to make sure bending down on one knee didn’t do any serious damage. My joints tighten up during the offseason so I figured it was better safe than sorry. Now, every time I go to a knee to knock down a grounder with my collarbone at third base this season, I’m going to think of my fiance. Just kind of a small tribute to her.

So that’s the story. I want Red Sox fans to know that marrying Tom Brady’s sister isn’t going to change me or distract me from my ultimate goal of hitting five home runs in the clinching game of the 2012 World Series. This team is focused this year and I know we’re all going to be ready to get down to business.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a phone call to find out how much it would cost to set up a chuppah on the Fenway Park pitcher’s mound.

The Youker Files: Dinner with the guys at Applebee’s

Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Red Sox first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

FORT MYERS, Fla.–Spring training isn’t all base-running drills and ground balls. Players have to eat, too.

There are 50 Applebee’s locations within a 20-mile radius of our Fort Myers facility, so it was only a matter of time before us corner infielders (myself, Adrian Gonzalez, Lars Anderson, Jed Lowrie) made it out for some good eating.

I know a lot of reporters like to make a huge deal about team camaraderie and all that stuff, so yes, we did all cram into one taxicab even though it meant leaving Hector Luna behind and riding with my cheekbone pressed up against the back window for 10 minutes.

Still, everything was going pretty smoothly until the hostess showed us to our table. As I was hanging my sports jacket on the hook next to the booth like a civilized human being, Adrian brushed me aside and stole my usual seat facing out toward the bar.

You see, Applebee’s are laid out the same, with the bar area offset to either the left or the right of the dining room. There are usually several booths adjacent to the front end, where all the bar goers mingle—most importantly, prowling cougars, who tirelessly fend off the skeevy male clientele of failed real estate moguls, displaced sex offenders and retired-at-45 portfolio managers until professional baseball players arrive for spring training. I’m not sure what these people even do the other 10-plus months of the year…

I know they must have Applebee’s in San Diego too, so I wasn’t cool with Adrian just taking my usual spot like it was nothing out of the ordinary. I mean, dude, seriously? I bit my tongue and tried to move on because I didn’t want to spoil the vibe and make people decide to skip appetizers.

Already pretty steamed, I was downright pissed when Jed ordered himself an entrée at the same time I was trying to order onion rings and spicy chili nachos for the table.

When I called him out on the faux pas, he was unapologetic. He says, What’s the difference if I want to eat a main dish before picking at the appetizers? Either way, the food winds up in my stomach.

Well, this whole mindset really infuriates me. There is a reason why appetizers are listed first on a menu, followed by entrees and desserts. If the waitress brings out a brownie sundae before the main course, everything gets thrown off kilter and the whole meal is ruined.

Jed is a young guy and just trying to be edgy and different for the sake of being different. So, again, I bit my lip and let it slide.

But things just got worse from there. As we were waiting for the main course to arrive, Lars decided he wanted to send a couple mudslides over to two well-endowed ladies sitting at the corner of the bar.

Now, one of these two chicks had been eyeing me most of the night and I planned on going over to them after we had polished off dessert to see if they wanted to share a plate of sliders and talk some baseball. I was going to play the Ed Harris to her Melanie Griffith.

But I’ll be damned, Lars showed the patience and resolve of a 16-year-old on prom night and couldn’t wait until after the meal to send over a couple of super-alcoholic drinks. (Yeah, I know, real subtle.) He was in over his head right from the start.

What happened next was all too predictable. The drinks arrived while I was just absolutely crushing a Triple Chocolate Meltdown and Lars smiles over and gives them the stupid Your Welcome thumbs up. I’m just helpless, wrist deep in ice cream and chocolate sauce smeared on my face.

Well, I had had enough by this point. Between Adrian taking my seat in the booth, Jed trying to “teach” me about meal courses being “interchangeable” and Lars showing his age by being overeager, I was ready to head home. Alone.

I think it was probably for the best. I ran up a hell of a bill smashing various furnishings in my hotel room and punching the fitness room’s drink machine out of working order, but sometimes it’s good to vent. I’ll autograph the bat I broke over my knee this morning in the batting cage and give it to the hotel manager.

As for Applebee’s, I’m sure I’ll be back there again. Spring training is less than a week old and being in Florida for six weeks without eating at Applebee’s a few times is kind of like going to Chicago and shunning Pizzeria Uno.

The Youker Files: A trip to the farmer’s market

Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Red Sox first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

Somebody once told me that my thick, scraggly beard makes me look like I could be one of those trail-mix-eating, Dharma-bum environmentalists. After a Good Samaritan kindly peeled my tightly wrapped fingers, one by one, off of this person’s neck, I realized maybe the guy wasn’t totally wrong.

Thanks to my stupid thumb (and my recent return to bachelorhood), I’ve got plenty of extra time this summer. I could have sat at home feeling sorry for myself these last few weeks, but watching the guys toiling away for a playoff spot from the sidelines is frustrating enough as it is. And fighting off the temptation to swing a bat (doctor’s orders) is a daily challenge.

Luckily, farmer’s markets offer both an earth-friendly alternative to the wastefulness of supermarkets and also a great way to kill off lazy summer days leading up to night games. On top of that, people always say that mass-produced hummus is filled with so many poisonous toxins and preservatives that you’d be better off letting Julio Lugo cook you a post-game dinner without his washing his hands first.

Keeping all that in mind, I figured it was probably time for me to see what all the hype was about. Earlier this week, the depression of both an empty cupboard and an empty bed became too much to bear any longer. I grabbed the keys to my sports utility vehicle and headed toward the sticks.

I was surprised by the massive amount of people already jockeying for positioning in the parking lot when I arrived shortly after 10:30 a.m. (I could have gotten there a lot earlier, but I got caught up watching The Today Show while ironing some newly washed dress shirts. In the summertime, I have to change shirts a few times each day—otherwise I wind up smelling like a freshly diced Bermuda onion.)

It was already a fairly hot and humid day even for late morning, so I left the engine of my sports utility vehicle running in its parking spot with the air conditioning on full blast. (Again, the heat…) I locked the car using the remote button on the keychain and it felt like everyone at the farmer’s market was staring at me like I had just swung at a pitch in the dirt on a 3-and-0 count.

Flustered by the grisly stares, I accidentally threw away my keys along with the Styrofoam coffee cup and crumpled paper wrappers that had encased my Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich. I practically had to stick my entire arm into the parking lot dumpster to retrieve my keys out of the garbage, which smelled like a dead elephant had been stuffed with rotten vegetables and fed to Godzilla for his final meal before he evacuated all his bowels in the same trash container on the first day of one of those seven-day lemon cleanses. I recoiled and had to hold back several dry heaves.

For some reason, all this reminded me that I was all out of maple syrup, which I like to pour liberally on my challah French Toast. Now, everything would have been fine if they had capped the bottle using a normal twist-off top. But for some reason, the syrup people plugged the top with a flimsy cork-shaped contraption that wound up loosening and allowing most of the syrup to seep out and into my reusable tote bag, which I had originally gotten as part of a free gift package at some Museum of Science exhibit years ago while on a date with my ex-girlfriend.

The bag, which obviously held sentimental value to me, was ruined. Worse yet, when the syrup began dripping down my leg and onto my brand new Nike sneakers, the people at the stand gave me a look like I deserved all that was coming to me.

I could feel a burst of anger rising from deep within. I wanted to pick up a ball of fresh mozzarella and throw it as hard as I could at the large sign advertising farm-raised salmon. The soft, drippy cheese would have made a satisfyingly awesome mess. But, as always, I kept my emotions in check and moved on.

To replace my now ruined Museum of Science tote bag, I purchased a handmade sack that I could tell was at least 75% burlap even though the lady who made it claimed it was only 35%. I wasn’t in the mood to argue by this point, so I paid the lady $25 and moved on.

I had piled no more than 15 organic tomatoes into my new tote when the bottom stitching gave out. I couldn’t believe it. Dirtied and befouled from rolling on the grass, the tomatoes were inedible and I left them on the ground fertilizer to the barren, sun-scorched earth. For good measure, I ripped the remaining burlap stitching apart a la the Incredible Hulk, took a Sharpie out of my pocket, signed my autograph on each of the pieces and handed them to some frightened-looking children. (I think they may have gotten lost looking for the sugar-free candy booth.)

I was quite fed up by this point and it was clearly time for me to leave the farmer’s market. I decided to get some homemade gelato on my way back to my sport utility vehicle. Knowing my luck, I made sure to take a hefty supply of napkins (maybe 25 or 30, tops) with me in case the gelato began to melt down my whole-grain waffle cone. I ate the gelato as quickly as I could as the humidity seemed to instantly turn my cone into a dripping, liquid mess. Luckily, my napkins contained most of the mess and I only got a couple of drips on my white shirt. (Unfortunately, I have since learned that dried raspberry gelato is very difficult to wash out of synthetic cotton.)

I’d rate my overall experience at the farmer’s market as no higher than a C or C-plus. Oh well, I guess all-natural sweeteners, home-made berry jams, hand-churned dairy products and gluten-free pasta aren’t for everybody. I’ll try anything once, but on my way home from the farmer’s market, I bought enough Celeste frozen pizzas to last me until the end of the Mayan calendar. I have a feeling the zesty four cheeses of Mama Celeste will do just fine in providing me all the nutrients I need to come back strong and healthy in 2011.

The Youker Files: 4th of July Fireworks Safety Tips

Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Red Sox first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis

Setting off fireworks is a part of Americana that I’ve always truly enjoyed. The anticipation of a lit fuse, the loud explosions, the high-pitched whistle of a fiery projectile shooting into the evening air en route to illuminating the sky with smokey color. I take a childish delight in the whole scene.

We were lucky enough to have this past Memorial Day off this year–the Monday breaking up our homestand against the Royals and Athletics. So I figured I’d take advantage of this blessing from the scheduling Gods and have a barbecue at my home in a nearby Boston suburb.

Honestly, what BBQ is complete without fireworks? To honor our veterans, I decided to have a buddy go up north to the New Hampshire border and purchase a very large amount of explosives to set off in my backyard once dusk rolled in.

I’ve gotta say, the idea seemed pretty flawless at the time. But I did learn some valuable lessons about the proper usage of fireworks that I hope everyone will keep in mind this weekend as we celebrate the Independence Day of our great nation.

Rule 1: Stay back
I guess we can all learn something from Dustin Pedroia, who got his own foot a bit too close to his own Laser Show for his own good out in San Francisco. In all seriousness, once a firework is lit in your vicinity, get out of the way immediately. Fuses require differing lengths of time to burn through and just because your M-80 doesn’t fire out of its launch pad immediately doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to get a closer look to see what’s going on.

Rule 2: Watch your aim
Don’t point your fireworks at other people. Don’t point your fireworks at other houses. Don’t point your fireworks in any direction which might have flammable substances or wooded areas. This might seem like a no-brainer to most people. But I’ve actually been hit in the head by several ill-fated bottle rockets. Those things can come at you quicker than any line drive down the third base line and they can leave more permanent marks than just a baseball-sized bruise.

Rule 3: Wear protective armor
I know, I know. You probably think you’ll look ridiculous wearing a helmet, safety goggles and a non-combustible jumpsuit, but just pretend you’re stepping into the batter’s box against Joba Chamberlain after he’s been drinking heavily. Do you really want to risk a fast-moving projectile speeding at your head so quickly that you only have a split-second to react?

Rule 4: Be patient
I haven’t always exhibited the same amount of patience in my fireworks escapades as I usually do during at-bats. I like buying a lot of different types of fireworks, loading my mortar up with several explosives and setting them off at the same time. But the risks of haywire aren’t always worth the reward. Rather than trying to impress your barbecue guests by lighting 10 projectiles at the same time, set off your M-80s and Roman candles one after another and just enjoy the experience. It’s pretty embarrassing when all your friends leave your house early because you thought it would be cool to try to light your whole arsenal with a blowtorch.

Well, I hope these safety tips are helpful. An amateur fireworks show can be one of the most absolutely awesome forms of entertainment, but unlike baseball, injuries can only be avoided by using common sense. Stay safe on the Fourth, everybody.

MLB Should Consider Eliminating Pitcher Position By Placing Baseballs on Tees

The pitchers have become too good. The hitters have become too patient—all too willing to strike out or take walks in pursuit of the perfect home run pitch. Meanwhile, the fast-paced athleticism required in football continues to present a formidable challenge to baseball’s distinction as the national pastime.

It is high time baseball hit back, so to speak. It is time to increase the action and make the game manlier and more entertaining to a wider range of fans.

It is time to let hitters hit off tees and eliminate the effeminate motions of modern pitchers’ deliveries.

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci danced around the solution in a recent essay:

“…we are missing an essential part of the game’s allure and romance: the crack of the bat. You hear it less and less in today’s game. Hitting and pitching have evolved in ways that mean the baseball is put into play less frequently than ever before.”

Sure, the league could legislate that young players must be instructed to be less selective at the plate, thus eliminating what Verducci calls the modern hitter’s maddening “passive/aggressive pursuit” during “a game of attrition.”

Basically, today’s ballplayers are a bunch of contact lens-wearing dandies overly concerned with exercising plate discipline, making pitchers tired and winning a bunch of baseball games.

Verducci points to Red Sox hitters as some of the worst offenders of Mark Bellhorn’s disease:

Some teams, such as the particularly influential Yankees and Red Sox, are especially patient. The Red Sox, for instance, in April chose not to swing at 41 percent of pitches that actually were in the strike zone.

Pitchers could be forbidden from throwing the Devil’s fastballs otherwise known as the “cutter,” a pitch that some of Verducci’s sources (the Yankees hitting coach) have blamed for the decrease in balls put in play and thus the pleasing crack-of-the-bat sound in ballparks. However, the rule would be difficult to police due to the large room for interpretation and potential grip modifications that could be employed to get around any newly implemented rules.

A tee is really the only way to make the game more interesting while also keeping it fair. On top of all that, cumbersome statistics such as pitch counts and pitch F/X data would be a thing of the past.

For their part, players asked about the debate in the clubhouse prior to Tuesday night’s game at Fenway Park were skeptical.

“I’d stare at it for a few minutes to see if it fell off the tee, but I guess eventually I’d swing at a baseball if it were set on a tee,” said Marco Scutaro, who was 13th in the American League in pitches per plate appearance in 2009 (4.07).

“Other guys on this team might be a bit more stubborn, though. Do you really think J.D. Drew or Kevin Youkilis would swing at a ball just because it happened to be placed on a tee in front of him? Those dudes are so stubborn I bet they wouldn’t swing the bat for a month just on general principle.”

The Youker Files: A Day on the Links

Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Red Sox first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis

I don’t play much golf during the baseball season. I’ve found that angrily impaling an oak tree with the head of a nine iron can have devastating effects on my contact rates at the dish. Plus, I always wind up getting paired with Dustin Pedroia, who has never shared company in a tee box with a back-swing he didn’t want to sabotage by mumbling some off-color vulgarity.

When Dustin told me he was heading out one morning for an early round at a local country club near Fort Myers, my first instinct was to tell him to find somebody else to tolerate the childish taps from his putter on their undercarriage while trying to line up a 35-footer.

But then I got to thinking: The regular season was about a week away and my chances for a leisurely day on the links were about to become almost nonexistent for the next six-plus months.

I really don’t know what got into me, but the next thing I knew Dustin and I were teeing up a 380-yard par 4 with a dog-leg left on a private course near Fort Myers. Well, my first drive off the tee sliced dog-legged right and out of play. I rained blows on the first of many garbage cans that day. In the process, I broke the graphite shaft of my favorite TaylorMade driver, leaving me with just 10 back-up drivers for the remaining 17 holes. I knew I would have to be more careful.

The first few holes went relatively well after that. I was shooting a 39 heading onto the fifth–an elevated par 3 with a small swamp on the left and sandy desert on the right. I lofted what I thought was a brilliant shot with my seven iron. But the ball got caught in the wind and briefly hung onto the edge of the left-side rough before kicking out to the muddy edge of the drink.

I was able to identify my ball (I only play with Nike 2s) amongst several Titleists that some of the less adventurous golfers had abandoned in favor of taking drops on drier land. Maybe I should have done the same. But at that point, I was still on pace for my handicap and didn’t want to waste a stroke by taking a drop. Plus, I was wearing some old baseball cleats from last season (I hate the feel of golf shoes), so I didn’t see much harm in getting them a bit dirty by stepping into the swamp. What I didn’t realize was that a rather large alligator had somehow found his way into the water.

As I was lining up my shot, I caught a glimpse of the ugly gator’s open mouth surging toward my leg. My vain attempts to shoo him away with my wedge only enraged the creature further and it was then that I had regretted tuning out Mike Greenwell a few years ago when he gave the team a primer on alligator wrestling techniques during spring workouts. Back in 2005, his tips seemed overly complicated and pretty unnecessary. But I guess even in this new, rejiggered economic world, subduing alligators is a valuable survival skill.

Anyway, the gator took a pretty good chunk of meat off the back of my leg and I probably woke up some people in the nearby nursing home with my wrenching screams of agony. Its clenched teeth gripped my leg with excruciating force. Luckily, Dustin had a butterfly knife in his golf slacks and he was able to dart the blade between the reptile’s eyes to kill it. The effort was heroic even if rolling to the ground while making the throw seemed a bit unnecessary.

I wrapped my wound with gauze and ate a hot dog as we made the turn to the back nine. I was off my handicap but still shooting a respectable 68. Even better, I had only broken three drivers and thrown a couple of irons into the water. My only concern was that bending my putter shaft over my thigh after five-putting the ninth hole forced me to play the last half of the course using a three iron as a putter.

The back nine wasn’t all that eventful. Some hack’s stray approach shot hit me in the ear as I was lining up a putt on the 10th green, a pelican pooped on my head somewhere on the 12th fairway, I flipped our riding cart over on a sharp turn and saw some things in the 16th hole’s port-a-potty that will haunt my dreams. But that was really about it.

When it was all over, I was happy to wind up shooting a 129. Golf isn’t my best sport, but I think once I retire I could probably get pretty good at it and maybe join the PGA tour. We’ll see what happens, though. It’s tough playing with buffoons like Dustin. Don’t get me wrong, I love him as a teammate on the diamond. But golf is a game that requires a certain amount of social grace that Pedey just doesn’t seem to have. I don’t need someone calling me an “ugly Sally” every time I shank a drive and barely clear the women’s tee box.

Well, that’s all I got for now. I can’t wait to be back in Boston to start the regular season. In some strange way, I think the round of golf may serve as a good omen for 2010. After Dustin killed that alligator on the 5th hole, I pulled out one of its teeth and will wear it around my neck for luck. That bastard didn’t know who he was messing with.