Kevin Youkilis was traded today to the Chicago White Sox. The Boston Red Sox kept him too long. This happens all the time when a team wins it all, as the Red Sox did in 2007. The fans bond with the players and refuse to let them go. Team management, knowing of the fans' desires, accommodates them. The players age; the team gets worse; and eventually, when fans begin to protest the decline, in-fighting and recriminations begin. Youkilis became a bad influence in the clubhouse. He put his own interests above those of the team, knowing that the fans would support him. (They gave him a standing ovation today in what turned out to be his final Red Sox game.) This isn't just a Boston thing, either. I saw it happen after the Detroit Tigers' 1984 World Series victory, when the team held on to Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker long after their skills declined. If a team wants to be competitive, it must be brutally unsentimental in its dealings with players. It must be willing to trade or release even fan favorites.