Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Young's Turnaround Muted Because Of Its Circumstances

All those who thought Dmitri Young would again be an All-Star, raise your hands. Now do so without blushing.

It was only last September when Young was banished from the Tigers, unceremoniously and strangely, during a rain delay at Comerica Park. It was the culmination of a sordid year of off-the-field troubles and injuries. Cancer in the locker room, folks whispered when he left town, the pennant push in full swing. Odd timing, too, for it appeared that Young was getting his stroke back after his early season troubles.

The free-swinging Young bats at a .335 clip in 2007

Anyhow, Young's career, while maybe not over, appeared on life support at the time. It was highly questionable whether any big league team would give him another shot, though being a switch-hitter with his resume probably gave him a better chance than the bleak picture the pallbearers with pens painted.

That team was the Washington Nationals. A chance for Young to be reunited with Jim Bowden, the Nats GM who was in the Reds' front office when Young played there. Bowden, it's presumed, did some due diligence. And he knew how good of a hitter Dmitri Young could be, when he was on his game and there weren't any distractions.

This season, Young is a National League reserve -- the Nationals' lone representative, and it's not a charity move by Tony LaRussa. It's not a pity selection, because the Nationals have to have a player on the roster. Young, as of Monday, was hitting .335 with seven homers and 38 RBI. I'd say a .335 hitter isn't on the All-Star team because of his good looks.

Yes, this might be a very nice "feel good" story if only it wasn't for the off-the-field issues that plagued Young in 2006 -- and for the continued perception that his character is less-than-spectacular. It would be easier to embrace his All-Star selection if there wasn't the domestic violence charge brought against Young a year ago spring. Or the whispers of his destructive ways within the Tigers clubhouse. Or one of the most heinous of charges in pro sports -- that he doesn't always stay interested. That he, in other words, dogged it for the Tigers last season.

The Dmitri Young, "cut-in-September-and-an-All-Star-next-July" story would be a much nicer one if we didn't have to cut through the thick brush that is his reputation and criminal charges.

We might even applaud him, for example.


Post a Comment

<< Home