Detroit Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was arrested in front of a hotel on Sixth Avenue in New York City this morning for allegedly assaulting a man while shouting anti-Semitic slurs and has been charged with an aggravated harassment hate crime, a misdemeanor. Young, 26, was apparently intoxicated at the time of the incident.
The Tigers are in New York to play a three game series against the Yankees starting tonight. As of this writing, the Tigers nor MLB have taken any disciplinary action against Young. However, I would be shocked if Young were in the lineup tonight especially in front of a crowd with more than its share of Jewish fans.
This isn’t the first time Young’s temper has got the better of him. In April 2006 (in fact, it was six years ago yesterday), when Young was playing with the Durham Bulls (the Triple A team for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as they were then known), he was suspended for 50 games for throwing his bat at a the home plate umpire after being ejected for arguing balls and strikes after he was called on out strikes during a game against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Young was brought up to the bigs later that season and had his first full season with the Devil Rays in 2007. Despite finishing runner up in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting behind Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox, the rechristened Rays dealt Young along with infielder Brendan Harris and outfielder Jason Pridie to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Matt Garza and infielder Jason Bartlett. Garza and Bartlett, of course, were key members of the Rays’ 2008 AL championship team.
After adequate seasons in 2008 and 2009, Young had a breakout season with the Twins in 2010 hitting .298 with 21 homeruns and 112 RBI finishing 10th in the AL MVP balloting. However, Young (along with almost every other Twin) took a step back in 2011. Last August, the Twins dealt Young to the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitcher Cole Nelson. Young helped the Tigers win the AL Central and played well in the post-season.
However, Phil Mackey, an ESPN reporter based in the Twin Cities, was relieved the Twins had dealt him because he and his fellow reporters never knew what they were going to get with Young. Mackey summed up Young this way, “Sometimes surly. Sometimes charming and engaging.”
Well, it would appear that Delmon Young’s surly side was on full display this morning.
Naturally, I am disturbed about these accusations of anti-Semitism. Are they true? If it is true then how long has he harbored these feelings? Does his older brother Dmitri, himself a former big leaguer, also afflicted with the world’s oldest hatred? I am hardly the one who is bothered by this development. Consider the thoughts of Rabbi Jason Miller, who is also a loyal Tigers fan:
When I read the news about Young, my heart sank to the floor. My oldest son is 8. In the past year he has become a die hard Detroit Tigers fan. He knows all the players by name. He knows their uniform number and their statistics (just like I did when I was a Tigers fan at that age). How am I supposed to explain to my son that Delmon Young was drunk, got into a street fight, yelled an anti-Semitic slur and got arrested? To my son, Delmon Young is a hero. He cheers for him. He prays that Young will hit a home run when he comes up to bat. I don’t think that it ever occurred to my son (or to me for that matter) that Delmon Young hates Jews in an inebbriated, full-of-rage Mel Gibson sort of way.
I know there’s a lot left to be desired about humanity and human beings. But when Delmon Young or anyone steps up to the plate the last thing I ask myself, “Is he an anti-Semite?” But consider the numbers. At any given moment, there are 750 men who are on the rosters of a major league team. If you took 750 random men between the ages of 18 to 49 there would be invariably be a few bigots amongst them. So chances are there’s someone in a big league clubhouse who doesn’t like Jews or other religious, racial or ethnic groups, drunk or sober. Like poverty, hatred will always be amongst us. However, that doesn’t make it any less disappointing when that hatred comes to the surface in all its ugliness.
UPDATE: The Tigers have removed Young from their active roster and have placed him on the restricted list pending further information.