In the wake of the news that Delmon Young is getting a suspension for his adventures in New York over the weekend, I have to ask why him and why now?
Not that his behavior wasn’t awful. According to the charges he was drunk and disorderly and assaulted someone and then used ethnic slurs that reflect awfully on him and, by extension, on the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball. That’s bad and probably does deserve discipline from his team and/or the league. I’m actually glad he’s getting it.
But why does Delmon Young get a suspension for walking around drunk and acting like an ass when no players have ever been suspended for driving around drunk and putting people’s lives in danger?
Baseball has had a rash of DUIs in recent years. From the top — future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa — to the bottom. Broadcasters. Coaches. Players. Team executives. All-Stars and scrubs. There have been two high-profile deaths due to drunk driving too: Josh Hancock, who killed himself while driving drunk, and Nick Adenhart, killed by another, along with two of his friends. Yet despite this, baseball never doles out discipline in these cases.
Why is this? Why start with Delmon Young?
One reason, I suspect, is that most ballplayer DUIs don’t end up splashed across the front page of the New York Post like Young’s did. Baseball has always seemed to react to bad behavior in direct proportion to how much publicity it gets, and my gut tells me that that is the case here. Player DUIs usually get picked up by one local player, create a quick blip and the fade. Not so with Young. If Young has a bad night in Minneapolis, it makes the police blotter column for a single day and similarly goes away is anyone talking about this?
But maybe I’m just being cynical. Maybe this is the beginning of a new discipline regime designed to stamp out what seems like a growing number of alcohol-related incidents involving ballplayers. If so — if the answer to “why Delmon, why now” is “you have to start somewhere” — I applaud baseball for finally stepping up.
But if that’s the case I will also expect to see similar discipline come the next time a ballplayer gets a DUI. Because people watch these things, Mr. Selig. At least some of us do.