Baseball Insider

Delmon Young gets to play again today, but doesn't deserve to

Embattled outfielder Delmon Young will be back in the Tigers' lineup Saturday after a week off without pay, and I still can't escape the feeling he got away with one.

It's true that it's rare a major-league player is suspended without pay barring a drug failure, and it's hard to recall the last time that's happened. But really, that only shows you exactly how powerful the players union is, because what Young is alleged to have done seems to warrant a lot more than one unpaid week away from the game.

Young was arrested for tackling a tourist outside the New York Hilton at around 2:30 a.m., and is also alleged to have hurled an anti-Semitic epithet the tourist's way. That this is about the ugliest thing I can recall a big-league player doing in recent memory.

In the days since the incident, there's been a lot of talk by people close to Young, and now Young himself, about his alleged alcohol problem, which strikes me as a convenient excuse. Anti-Semitism isn't contained in a bottle of whiskey.

Young, who was charged for the incident and is out on $5,000 bail, was said on Friday to have "admitted'' he's entered an alcohol counseling program. But I think he was only too happy to reveal that, as alcohol is a time-tested alibi for all sorts of ugly human behavior. In our society, it's much better to be a drunk than a racist or anti-Semite, though there are folks who are both.

"I only hope that going through the treatment program will get all the help I need to come back and be a great teammate and successful baseball player in the Tigers organization,'' Young told the assembled Tigers media.

Well, that's not quite "all'' the help he needs. I've heard Young, who once was penalized 50 games for flipping a bat and striking an umpire with it, also has been mandated to attend sensitivity training courses. And if so, that's a good thing, because that's the real issue here. Although I notice Young didn't "admit'' to the sensitivity training, at least not in his interview in Detroit.

Young did, however, admit that the publicity surrounding the anti-Semitic comment he is said to have made (it was allegedly the "k'' word), hurts him the most.

"That's the toughest part, especially being branded anything racist or bigoted, especially when that's not me,'' he said to the Tigers media.

Young mentioned what a good family he comes from, but assuming that's true only makes what he's alleged to have done less execusable. I'm only glad he didn't pull out the old standby and tell us his agent is Jewish.

Let's hope he understands how he he hurt baseball and the Tigers with what he did, and not just because he cost himself some money. Not only did he lose approximately $259,615 in salary as a percentage of his $6.75-million salary, but also as an impending free agent who can't even pretend he might sign next year with the Yankees or Mets (nor quite possibly several other teams).

Let's hope he not only pays attention at the alcohol counseling programs but at sensitivty training, as well, because that's the real problem here.

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