When the Detroit Tigers made a deal late last season to acquire outfielder Delmon Young from the Minnesota Twins to help them in their quest for postseason success, they thought they were getting a player who had matured since an ugly incident in the minor leagues in 2006.
Apparently, they were wrong.
Major League Baseball announced on Monday that Young was suspended for seven games, following an incident early Friday morning in New York in which he was arrested for second-degree aggravated harassment.
Young, who had arrived in New York late Thursday along with the rest of the Tigers in preparation for a three-game series with the New York Yankees, was arrested after police were called to the the Hilton New York on Avenue of the Americas.
According to police, Young was heavily intoxicated when he witnessed four tourists from Illinois talking to a panhandler who had approached the group. The panhandler sported a skullcap and was wearing a Star of David around his neck. After one of the tourists handed the panhandler some cash, Young became enraged, hurling ethnic slurs at the tourists and scuffling with at least one of them.
The police arrested Young on the misdemeanor, and the Tigers immediately placed Young on the restricted list.
Today’s suspension by MLB is retroactive to last Friday, meaning that Young is eligible to play this coming Friday. Young must also enter a treatment program administered by MLB’s Employee Assistance Program as part of the new MLB collective bargaining agreement.
"Those associated with our game should meet the responsibilities and standards that stem from our game's stature as a social institution," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "An incident like this cannot and will not be tolerated. I understand that Mr. Young is regretful, and it is my expectation that he will learn from this unfortunate episode."
There will no doubt be a number of people who will say that Young’s punishment is too lenient. Indeed, if what Young did and said to the tourists early Friday morning are in fact correct, it is certainly a crime that is egregious in nature.
However, MLB, simply cannot regulate stupidity. Young, who was suspended for 50 games in 2006 after throwing a bat at an umpire while playing for the Durham Bulls, had largely kept his nose clean while playing for the Twins, and appeared to have gained a measure of maturity.
His actions on Friday morning clearly showed a man who has issues. Alcohol certainly played a role in his actions and behavior on Friday morning, and that will be dealt with through MLB’s EAP program. But, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Young once again showed a side of himself that is ugly and dangerous.
Seven days without pay is really about all that the MLB can do at this point. While relations between MLB and the player’s union have been excellent in recent years, the union simply wouldn’t abide by a suspension longer than what was issued. Those are the plain facts.
If Young were in the NFL, a team could very easily release him for his conduct and behavior, and a suspension would likely have been more severe.
Young will report back to work on Friday, albeit with his tail between his legs, and his wallet a little bit lighter. He will still be accountable for his actions in a court of law, and the court of public opinion has already weighed in, with reaction to his behavior largely negative on Twitter as soon as his arrest became public knowledge.
Young will continue his career, and MLB will likely face criticism from fans who will be outraged that his punishment didn’t fit the crime. But there is no question that Young is now forever tarnished.
A seven-game suspension was the right call by MLB. For many, Young will forever be a pariah, and that could very well be punishment enough.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.