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.
Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:
Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.
With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.
The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.
You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.
Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.
Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.
Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.
Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.
Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.