About a year ago, Delmon Young committed a hate crime in New York, which involved getting into a drunken fight and yelling "F***ing Jews! F***ing Jews!" The Phillies, regrettably, have taken a chance on him. What is an appropriate fan response?
Major media outlets for years have been lazy in their reporting about Philadelphia sports fans. The same old tropes get hashed and rehashed. The narrative that they almost uniformly impose on isolated incidents of poor fan behavior is that Philadelphia sports fans are acting the fool again, just like always. Feel free to add your Santa Battery Snowball Puking mashup in the comments right?
Now, in what is sure to be a Major Media Trope Death Match, Philadelphia Fans will be pitted against the execrable Delmon Young. This Delmon Young, in case you were under a rock during the last year.
I want to start some sort of discussion about how to deal with Young from a fan's perspective, because I am personally very conflicted and confused about what is appropriate fan treatment. First a little background, then some examples.
I try very hard to talk honestly to my children about sports. I take the Charles Barkley approach and advise them regularly that they should not seek morality lessons from athletic competitions or from athletes.
That said, I am an attorney by profession, and I do a lot of criminal defense work. I defend people accused of drunk driving, possessing drugs, selling drugs, assaulting people, sometimes with pretty awful fact patterns that law-abiding people think are horrific. While I work in a world of deviants, I also truly believe that almost anyone can significantly change, even someone who has done something heinous. Maybe even a Manson Girl
I've dealt with regular people who have made poor choices and I have represented some true sociopaths. Some of my "regular people who made poor choices" clients learned from their mistakes, and I've never heard from them since. Some come back over and over, failing repeatedly to conform to society's rules. The sociopaths mostly just go to jail.
I do not know what kind of person Delmon Young is. I know what a five minute, drunken rage of him is indirectly through media accounts. That's all. I believe it, but it isn't much to go on. In all likelihood, I will never know what, in his heart, he truly is. I've talked about him with my baseball fan kid, and we're both kind of stuck with what we should do with him, just like it is hard for me to tell at first contact what group a prospective client might end up in years later.
In baseball terms, this is how I approach "the enemy": Last year, I was at the Phillies
/Nats game in D.C. where Jayson Werth
was hurt. My son and I we were among the first in our section in D.C. to rise and applaud as he came off the field, clearly seriously hurt.
We were happy to see him walk off under his own power. He is a baseball player playing for the other team, and though there has been some pro-wrestling style pseudo bad blood, Jayson Werth is a human being deserving of dignity and respect. He injured himself playing a game to entertain us. Only a total ass would do anything but offer support and respect by applauding him. Plus, WFC, right?
Knowing this stuff about me, I need some help from you folks. If I am at a ballgame, I am faced with a decision matrix for Delmon Young. Here is what I have come up with, in the format of "If Delmon does X, then I do Y":
- Delmon makes a good play, I ____________________. (While likely only theoretical, humor me.)
- Delmon makes a routine play, I ____________________.
- Delmon makes a bad play, I ____________________.
- Delmon hits a walk-off home run to beat the Braves, I ________________________.
- Delmon beats up Cody Ross, I ___________________.
- Delmon is injured, I ________________________.
Right now, I think my answers are:
- sit quietly
- sit quietly
- sit quietly
- sit quietly
- boo, because attacking anyone in baseball is wrong (including throwing at batters intentionally, Cole Hamels),
- Applaud politely as he leaves the field, since I am never happy to see anyone injured.
Aside from the practical, such as the above, there are many remaining questions that I haven't really resolved:
- Is the silent treatment the most-appropriate response?
- Is booing, even if he does well, justified?
- Why would on-field performance (play well/play poorly) matter at all in a decision about how to treat Young for a vile off-field incident?
- If he is deserving of booing, what, if anything, can he do to earn redemption, demonstrate real remorse, and otherwise rehabilitate himself?
Fire away in the comments, folks.