|Delmon Young is on the restricted list, but could return as soon as Tuesday. (AP)|
NEW YORK -- Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was placed on baseball's restricted list the other day, ironic considering the gravity of the anti-Semitic slurs he is accused of using right before he allegedly attacked someone outside the team's hotel here.
Young, it seems pretty clear, is one lucky young man. Because his type of behavior would not be tolerated in almost any other line of work.
As it is, his bad personality seems like a reasonable explanation for a career that hasn't come close to living up to original expectations (more on that later).
I don't necessarily blame the Tigers for suggesting he'll be activated as soon as the league clears him to play. They're just doing what any other team would say and probably do when one of their relatively productive players misbehaves. And what the players' union will likely allow for a player under contract.
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It would be nice if the Tigers were the one franchise willing to cut a player for being a jerk, and if they do, they get a lifetime supply of plaudits from me. But that's just not something that ever happens.
There has been a lot said about Young being drunk at the time of the incident, but this in no way should be seen as an excuse. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said again Sunday that the "anger management" component was a concern as well as the sobriety. The league is slated to evaluate Young on Monday, and it appears to be taking the awful charges seriously.
MLB understandably is concerned whether Young has a drinking problem, because there is a different remedy for that, but let's hope a lack of sobriety isn't seen by anyone as an excuse for his all-time bad behavior.
This, after all, isn't Young's first time to act like an all-time jerk.
He once was suspended 50 games for throwing a bat at an umpire, and he presumably wasn't drunk for that incident, which occurred during a game. Young was said to have hurled the bat underhanded, with it striking the umpire in the chest. He wasn't seriously hurt. The tourist who was tackled is reported to have sustained only scratches. But that is beside the point.
At the very least (and it is very little), Young issued a statement that contained a suggestion of contrition. Of course he should be sorry if he yelled an anti-Semitic slur and tackled the tourist, who gave some money to a panhandler wearing a yarmulke and Star of David pendant outside the New York Hilton in midtown here.
After being released on $5,000 bail on the charge of second-degree aggravated harassment -- accused of harassing someone based on their race or religion -- at least Young (or his lawyer) had the decency to say, "I take this matter very seriously, and I assure everyone that I will do everything I can to improve myself as a person and player."
The part where he ties his play with his humanity is interesting in that Young's humanity -- or lack thereof -- may actually have had a real effect on a career that isn't anywhere near as great as folks figured it might be. He has a lot of tools, but well before this incident, he was known around the league as someone working with a personality deficit.
Young is still only 26, so perhaps there's time to save him from himself. But he, the Tigers and the league need to do a lot more than pay lip service to the situation. Or blame it on the booze.
He needs to go to a anger management and sensitivity training, for starters. There's no way to tell if Young has any problem with alcohol, but his behavior suggests he is one very angry young man.
And so far, he has mostly hurt himself with his bad attitude. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2003 player draft after wowing teams with incredible power and overall talent as a high school standout in Southern California. He hit .336 his first year in the minors. Stardom looked like it was his for the taking.
Young was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2007, and it seemed his draft status was en route to being justified. But he has never come anywhere close to reaching the heights originally predicted. He has never made an All-Star team, something accomplished by five players picked behind him in that first round.
Last year, his star had fallen to the point where the Tigers acquired him in a trade for two minor leaguers without extraordinary pedigree, Cole Nelson and Lester Olivares.
He's too good to be cut. But he's not nearly the player he was supposed to be.
It may never be proved what caused Young to fail to live up to the original hype. But it's reasonable to wonder if he was distracted by his anger and petty grievances.
It's fair to assume, too, whether he's running out of chances, or at least should be.