Coming off surgery on his right ankle in November, and given that he wasn't exactly a jewel on the free-agent market after his career stalled with the Tigers, Delmon Young probably should feel excited about getting on the field for the Philadelphia Phillies. Right, Delmon?
No, not really.
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In an unnecessarily awkward interview with the Philadelphia media, Wednesday Young came off as terse, bored and passive-aggressively confrontational when asked, simply, how he was doing. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News transcribed the conversation. It climaxed with Young asking, semi-rhetorically:
Young: You guys trying to write a soap opera here or something?
Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuse me(dia), Mr. Baseball. Yeah, "As the Ankle Turns" would be a good soap opera. "Young and the Feckless" is another.
A former No. 1 overall pick, Young has yet to achieve that kind of promise in the majors. The Phillies (for whatever reason) are relying on Young to be their everyday right fielder, once he's healthy. That's what the reporters wanted to know about — how he was feeling now that the Phillies had cleared him for "light baseball activities."
This was my least-favorite exchange:
[Reporter] How did it feel to be in the cage then finally?
Young: It’s batting practice. I really don’t care too much to hit on the field.
[Reporter] You getting anxious though, watching these games...
Young: No, not really. It’s cold and it’s only March 6. I’m not anxious at all.
Now, it's possible Young was being literal because he knows the difference between "anxious" (to worry overly about an impending event) and "eager" (which means you're excited, in a good way, to get after it). He seems like an intelligent guy, for real.
Regardless, his answer should be unacceptable: "No, I don't want to get on the field because it's cold and it's only March"? Even if the politically correct thing is to sound all gung-ho, what kind of baseball player says he doesn't want to be on the field? What is Young there for then? He's not being paid that much.
After that — "Why are you here?" — the next question from the Philly reporters should be "Why are you such a jerk?" Beer's on me to the one who asks him.
Young has a reputation for being surly with the media, but he's within his rights there, and there's nothing particularly remarkable about it. His reputation in the clubhouse among teammates has been OK, as far as I can tell. His most notorious moment in life came in 2006 when he threw a bat at an umpire during a minor league game. That was nearly seven years ago when he was barely out of his teens, not to be apologetic for him. He served a 50-game suspension for it. And then there's the bizarre incident with the antisemitic slurs and assault a year ago.
It's a lot easier to tolerate an unlikeable person if he adds something to the team. Young certainly doesn't have a consistent history there, either. He's mostly underperformed. But acting all "meh" regarding any urgency to return to the field? Yeah, they're going to love him in Philly.
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