April is now “Offend the Locals Month” in MLB

First, Ozzie Guillen torched his relationship with Miami’s ethnic Cuban community (among many others).

Then, Bobby Valentine picked an odd time to casually rip one of his team’s best and most beloved players.

Now, this: Delmon Young was arrested in Manhattan on a misdemeanor charge of “aggravated harassment hate crime” during the Thursday/Friday overnight.

From ESPN’s story:

Police say Young was standing outside of the Hilton New York, not far from Times Square. A group of about four Chicago tourists staying there were approached by a panhandler wearing a yarmulke. As the group walked up to the hotel doors, Young started yelling anti-Semitic epithets. Police say it’s not clear who he was yelling at, but he got into a tussle with one of the Chicago group, who sustained scratches to his elbows.

… Young was arrested at 4 a.m. local time at 54th Street and 6th Avenue. He was hospitalized at first because he was believed to be intoxicated.

This incident, if true as described so far, would not be the first time Young’s outrageous behavior made headlines. Most casual fans first heard of him because of this bat-throwing incident exactly six years ago, which earned him a 50-game suspension from the Durham Bulls.

That outburst hasn’t seemed to hinder Young’s career; he was called up to the majors that same summer, and in 2007 placed 2nd in the Rookie of the Year vote. But this incident — barring any further details that substantially alter the story — could sound the death knell on his MLB career. I’ll hazard a guess that Young is the first active major leaguer to be charged with a hate crime, at least during the season.

It’s true that hate-crime statutes are themselves controversial. There’s the question of whether it’s unconstitutional to increase the penalty for an action because of accompanying speech that, by itself, would be protected; and there’s also the practical question of whether such statutes actually do any good.

But the legal issues only matter in the courtroom; they will not decide Young’s fate with the Tigers. A hate crime charge may prove to be like toxic pine tar. And the bottom line is that he’s just not a good enough player to be forgiven such public-relations disasters.

Coincidentally, on Thursday the Tigers released their longest-tenured player, Brandon Inge, a move that was prefigured by the offseason shift of Miguel Cabrera to Inge’s primary position, and which cost them over $5 million. Young, who’s making close to $7 million on a one-year deal, should be the next out the door.

It would be naive to think that baseball has fewer closet bigots than any other community. And it would be absurd to judge Young more culpable on the moral ledger than his teammate Cabrera, who has at least two serious drunk-related incidents on his sheet, including a DUI. But whatever the relative merits of the public’s reactions, what Young is accused of is likely to provoke more backlash. And the Tigers will have to protect their brand.

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MikeD
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I don’t expect Young’s ugly words will end his career, and nor should it, although I will reserve final judgment until I know all the details. What is a greater threat to ending Young’s career is his ugly batting line. A .268/.302/.393 triple slash from last season suggests he’s been masquerading as a power-hitting corner OFer, withoug the numbers to back it up.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Agreed; it’s the lack of walks, and only moderate power for a mediocre (at best) corner outfielder, that will hurt his MLB career more than this sort of incident.

Michael Sullivan
Guest

well, he’s basically playing at replacement level, and he’s making 7million this year. Without an incident like this, the halo from being regarded as a hot prospect a few years ago might have carried him through a couple more years of low level play before he got dropped, or relegated to replacement level salaries as a bench/AAA player.

This kind of thing will lead teams to reconsider his value now.

Neil L.
Guest
And it’s only April …… how many more off-field examples of mouth not being engaged with brain will we see before the end of the season? I don’t think Delmon Young will be released because of his actions, but I’m not close to the Detriot situation. It seems to me that sports franchises are becoming less tolerant of public misbehaviour than in the recent past, although drinking and driving on the part of a ML player doesn’t seem to push the public’s hot buttions as much as other things. Every professional sport has its share of bad apples, character-wise, but,… Read more »
MikeD
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My guess is players from today are saints compared to players of the past.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
Human nature doesn’t change that much over the generations; what has most certainly changed is that athletes’ indiscretions are covered much more publicly and in much more detail than before. Up until the late 60s, there seemed to be an “unwritten” agreement amongst sports writers not to write about bad behavior by the players that they covered. This seems to have gradually faded; the publication of ‘Ball Four’ spotlighted the dual standards of the sportswriters. However, there are still many people who demand that pro athletes behave as personal role models, comparing current players to their heroes of many decades… Read more »
Evan
Guest
I think it’s reasonable for our expectations of their standard of behavior to rise as the players’ salaries, the owners’ profits and the ticket prices and cable fees we pay to support those salaries and profits rise. The owners don’t want their employees embarrassing them like that. As much as they like to claim that it is a business, the reality is that sports franchise are toys that really rich guys like to own (like a yacht) so they can tell people that they own it and talk about it at parties. They want to own the team for ego… Read more »
T-Dub
Guest

Am I the only one who is both confused and amused by the term “aggravated harassment hate crime”? Is this the new politically correct way to say “drunk jerk”?

Don Malcolm
Guest

We have to allow the sociologists to make a living, T-Dub…that means they spend time creating a more intricate way to characterize something that might otherwise be said much more simply. That’s no fun!!

I’m presuming that “aggravated harassment” means that the incident escalated from harsh words to some form of physical violence.

Evidently those Young brothers are complicated fellows…and you may interpret “complicated” in whatever manner you see fit!

April, apparently, is now exactly the opposite of March…coming in like a lamb and going out like a lion–only three more days of rage left!!

Howard
Guest

Brandon Inge’s release was “prefigured” by his increasing inability to hit.

Mike L
Guest

Being a drunk jerk shouldn’t be a crime. Being a drunk jerk who assaults someone is. But what sports team owners (and college coaches) have shown over and over again is that where there is talent, there is a vast tolerance for aberrant behavior. You have to go way out on the misbehaving front to be shown the door permanently.

bstar
Guest
The only incident I can think of in recent years that prompted a quick release from the club he was playing for was Julio Lugo in 2003, who was given the boot from the Astros after a wife-beating charge in May of that year in the parking lot of a game with the Braves. Lugo’s wife later changed the story and ?admitted? she had been the aggressor in the fight and charges were dropped. Lugo was never much more than a replacement-level shortstop, but he was the starter before the incident. Owner Drayton McLane was concerned about letting a wife-abuser… Read more »
Don Malcolm
Guest
Julio Valdez found that his days in MLB were brought to a sudden end when he was charged with statutory rape in May 1983 when a runaway 14-year-old girl’s parents filed charges against him. Turned out the girl had lied about her age (I hate it when that happens!) and the charges were eventually dropped, but Valdez found a glass ceiling at AAA for the next six years. Granted, some of that was due to the fact that he couldn’t really hit a lick, but there were a lot of SS with similar offensive profiles who got a lot of… Read more »
Neil L.
Guest

Lawrence Taylor and Julio Valdez syndrome!

I didn’t know she was underage.

MikeD
Guest

I’m surprised the charges were dropped. Luis Polonia faced a similar situation with a 16-year-old back in the 80s who told the police that she lied to Polonia about her age, and sought out the players’ buses when teams were in town with the goal of picking up and sleeping with baseball players. This was acknowledged in court, yet he still served a 60-day sentence.

Howard
Guest

That probably had to do w/where the “crimes” occurred. Valdez was busted in Boston while Polonia was busted in more conservative Milwaukee.

Fireworks
Guest

Indeed. I don’t know the Milwaukee or Boston statutes, but the New York statute specifically says that ignorance of her age cannot be used as a defense for any reason. Which is bollocks.

Nash Bruce
Guest

agreeing with Fireworks.

Shping
Guest

All this bad mojo for a few personalities lately, and we dont even have Milton Bradley out there anymore. Almost miss him in a way. And Zambrano and NMorgan have been quiet too.

Meanwhile, who will last longer? Ozzie or Bobby V ? It’s a pretty even bet, but i think i’d take Ozzie. He’s got a better track record for surviving, doesn’t he? Valentine is more likely to do something stupid again, esp. if he gets frustrated.

Timmy Pea
Guest

Why is Delmon picking on Jewish panhandlers? I’m trying to find a humourous angle to this but it’s hard. If he hit someone he should be charged with assault. If he got drunk and used a slur then the Tigers should dump him, but I don’t like hate crimes laws that only involve words. I’ve been called a lot of bad names.

Thomas Court
Guest

Not sure I would refer to Youkilis as one of Boston’s “best” players. He is/was a good to very good player.

But right now I would put Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz and Ellsbury ahead of him without question. On the bright side for Youk, there is no pitcher on their roster that I would put in front of him.

Howard
Guest

It’s a little early to write Youkilis off as one of the Sox best players. From 2008-2010 he was one of the best hitters in the game and even last year had a WAR above four. Even if the four you mentioned are better than him it still makes him their fifth best and therefore one of their best players.

Hartvig
Guest
Signing Young in the first place was a huge mistake by Detroit- I suspect more by Ilitch than Dombrowski- but the fact that he was a sociopath was only 4th or 5th on the list of reasons it was a bad idea. He has no plate discipline and has shown no signs of developing any in 3000 plate appearances. He’s a terrible fielder even for a position known for terrible fielders and he has shown no inclination to try and improve. Minnesota signed Josh Willingham for almost exactly the same amount per year, Arizona signed Jason Kubel for just a… Read more »
Nash Bruce
Guest

agreeing with Hartvig as well. Probably one of my least favorite players ever.

Fireworks
Guest
Sociopath is a rather strong characterization. All we know so far is that Young was apparently drunk and a belligerent drunk at that, whose mouth caught the attention of Chicago tourists, which led to an altercation. Come to think of it, it’s odd that you call it “offend the locals” month, Andy, since Young is a Florida native playing for the Detroit Tigers who got into an altercation in New York with Chicago tourists (his apparently abusive language toward a likely native jewish New Yorker panhandling notwithstanding). Anyway, Young’s already done the right thing with his statement: “I sincerely regret… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

FYI, under the law, it’s easier to think of a “hate crime” as a “real” crime first, exacerbated by racial, religious, ethnic, blah blah motives. So, punching someone out is a crime. Yelling ethnic slurs isn’t. Punching someone out while yelling ethnic slurs is assault (possibly) raised to hate crime level.

Fireworks
Guest

He didn’t punch anyone out. According to Gothamist he yelled “F****** jews!” when the panhandler asked the tourists for money, then he got into a tussle with tourists, then everyone went to their respective hotel rooms where one of the tourists noticed scratches on his elbows or something and called the cops.

Ranting about jews is inexcusable. The rest of it is coming off a bit weak to me.

Hartvig
Guest
Fireworks- You’re right, sociopath is probably a little too strong. I don’t know Young and I’m well aware that what you read in the media probably isn’t the whole story wether it be about this incident or things in his past. That said, he certainly gives every appearance of being an immature, egotistical, self-centered jerk. Which is true of a lot of guys when they’re young- but he’s nearly 27 and really should know better by now. But that wasn’t the point of my post. Jerk or not, his game still has a ton of holes in it and I… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
Fireworks. I don’t know what he did, or what order he did therm in. If this was a stupid scuffle with no harm done the fact that the guy may have acted like a jerk shouldn’t lead to sonething heavy duty. I’ve talked to someone who played a role in drafting hate crimes legislation and, while I wouldn’t want to speak for him, my guess is he’d be unhappy to see that statute applied this way. This is supposed to be for heavy duty things like burning a church or synagogue or going out with a tire iron looking for… Read more »
Fireworks
Guest
Exactly, Mike L. I need more than drunken belligerence for a hate crime. I don’t like Mel Gibson at all anymore given his rant during his DUI arrest and his recorded conversations, but he didn’t commit a hate crime either. Nevertheless, the Tigers have placed Young on the restricted list and he has to be evaluated and then is either heading to treatment or back to playing baseball. Hartvig, you’re right. When he tossed the bat, he said it was unintentional, and he was still 20 or something, and you could chalk it up to immaturity. However, he’s been in… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest
Delmon Young’s biggest problem now is that with his well-documented history of bad behavior (both on and off the baseball field), he gets absolutely no “benefit of the doubt” from this point on. You may say – that’s not fair, but well, he’s the only one to blame, he did it to himself. MLB has shown that _it will_ suspend players (John Rocker), managers (Ozzie Guillen), and even owners (Marge Shott) for what we call now “hate crime” speech, even if they does not specifically break any baseball rules. I suppose if he acts contrite enough, he will eventually play… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

Lawrence is right. First and foremost this a business. So, Marge Schott with her Nazi trophies, and Rocker being a complete jerk, etc made themselves easy targets. So, too, Ozzie really only voiced a political opinion-he didn’t dis Cuban expats in Miami,but business is business. Luke Scott also mouthed off, but nothing happened to him because it’s a free country-unless it hurts at the box office

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Mike L,

Thanks, but I was not referring specifically to the business angle (though that’s a good point that I overlooked), but the situation now where Young will get absolutely _no_ benefit of the doubt if he gets into any more trouble.

In other words, he has to be on “best behavior” all of the time, because a lot of people are waiting for him to mess up again.

Fireworks
Guest
I don’t know why I thought it was Andy, JA. Also, I’m a native New Yorker myself and two of the three counties I live inhave the highest percentage of jews in the demographics at 33% (Rockland) and 20% (New York). What I meant about it not offending the locals is that Young isn’t a Yankee or Met and was nabbed for fighting with tourists. I don’t deny that Delmon’s comments were bigoted–just that based upon the reports of hate crime and all that I wasn’t buying that angle. Also, I don’t think people outside of baseball know or care… Read more »
Fireworks
Guest

Difference between a Young/Gibson and other bigots*. I need a bigger fone.

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