Over the years, it had become almost a matter of routine. Virtually every time baseball disciplined a player, the union would appeal, often winning a reduced penalty.
Delmon Young was different – by his own choice.
The Tigers’ outfielder, according to major-league sources, decided to accept rather than appeal his seven-game suspension for what baseball referred to as “the incident” – the altercation that led to his arrest in Manhattan on hate-crime charges last Friday.
Young’s suspension is without pay, costing him approximately $257,240 of his $6.725 million salary. Baseball officials on Tuesday could not recall the last time a player did not challenge a suspension without pay.
The sport’s collective-bargaining agreement states that a player, not the union, determines whether to appeal a disciplinary measure. Young’s exact reasoning for accepting his penalty is not known, but sources suggest that he simply wanted to move forward while dealing with the fallout from his arrest and other personal issues.
The union, sources say, believe there was no precedent for a suspension of Young’s magnitude. Young’s alleged offense did not occur at his place of employment. And at that this point, he is innocent until proven guilty.
One player agent not involved in the case said the only sufficient grounds for punishment is that the arrest prevented Young from performing his job for one day. But in the opinion of that agent, the failure of Young to perform his duties does not warrant a seven-game suspension.
Union officials conferred with Young and his agents and outlined the available options, but the Young camp decided not to pursue the matter, sources say.
For an example of how an appeal can work to a player’s benefit, consider the case of former Atlanta Braves reliever John Rocker, whom baseball suspended for the first 28 games of 2000 for offensive comments against minorities, foreigners and homosexuals.
Upon appeal, an arbitrator reduced Rocker’s suspension to 14 games and cut his $20,000 fine to $500. Rocker did not lose any salary during his suspension, according to reports at the time.
Young, 26, was arrested Friday after a late-night dispute at his hotel during which police say he yelled anti-Semitic epithets. His suspension is retroactive to Friday, and he is eligible to return this Friday, at which point the Tigers plan to reinstate him. If Young is convicted, baseball could apply stronger discipline, sources say.
The statement from the commissioner’s office announcing Young’s suspension said that he would be “required to participate in a treatment program as part of the discipline related to this matter.”
Young’s entrance into the program followed a meeting that he had with an independent evaluator appointed by the union and commissioner’s office, as required by the CBA for players involved in alcohol-related incidents.