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Delmon Young needs to change his image to teams, fans
Updated 4/28/2012 11:45 AM ET
NEW YORK — The last time Alex Rodriguez faced the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, he stood against a team that could do no wrong. He whiffed for the last out in the Tigers' historic series-clinching victory last October.

But Friday night, A-Rod had the benefit of confronting a Tigers team that can't do anything right at the moment.

The Tigers can't even stay out into the wee hours of the morning without embarrassing themselves.

MORE: Young charged in hate crime

Rodriguez didn't even need to swing the bat to win the game. The Tigers' damage was all self-inflicted, losing their fifth straight — and seventh in their last eight — thanks to a ninth-inning wild pitch on a walk and then a passed ball with A-Rod at the plate.

"That's just how it goes when you're in a funk," catcher Alex Avila said. "The wild pitch skipped off the dirt, then my glove then off (umpire Joe West's) leg and rolled to the back wall. And I just missed (the passed ball). Those things just seem to happen more frequently when you're struggling."

An already bad day for the Tigers got progressively worse with their 7-6 loss.

They had a losing streak and a slumbering offense when they woke Friday morning to the disturbing news that Delmon Young allegedly had a little more pop in his mouth than his bat.

Young missed the game after spending much of the day in police custody following his arrest on a hate-crime accusation. As his teammates prepared to open an important three-game series against the Yankees, Young stood before a judge in a Manhattan criminal court. He was arraigned on a misdemeanor aggravated harassment charge and released when he posted a $5,000 bond.

According to New York police and court documents, an inebriated Young hurled an anti-Semitic slur outside the Tigers' midtown Manhattan hotel about 2:30 a.m. and then a scuffle ensued with a 32-year-old man.

The extent of the fight reflected the Tigers' recent offensive woes: There wasn't much contact.

The victim sustained an injured elbow that didn't require medical treatment. Young spent time in the hospital because the arresting officers believed that he was in an intoxicated state.

The Tigers hoped that Justin Verlander would return a little sanity to a crazy day. He battled through a rare off night, giving the Tigers a late lead that the bullpen couldn't hold.

"We just have to keep fighting through this," manager Jim Leyland. "We know that we're a good team. We don't have to convince ourselves of that. But we're just going through a little funk right now. But we'll break out of it."

Leyland snapped at a television reporter following the game who asked whether he had any reaction to the Young arraignment.

"Get lost," he barked at the reporter. "Get lost. Do yourself a favor (and) get lost."

Young's incident gained national attention throughout Friday, ironically coming just days an African-American Washington Capitals player, Joel Ward, got hit with a Twitter barrage of racially charged insults from Boston Bruins fans after he scored the Game 7-winning overtime goal in their first-round series.

Any potential Young fallout isn't about political correctness or overly heightened sensitivities. If Young were the recipient of racially influenced venom against African Americans there would be considerable outrage against the perpetrator and sympathy toward him. The disgust should be just as strong if it's true that Young was the verbal dispenser of such narrowed stupidity against Jewish people.

Young, now 26, needs to grow up. Aside from potentially damaging his reputation for, at the very least, putting himself in a needlessly embarrassing situation, Young might have compromised his marketability since this is his contract season. He will hit the free-agent market for the first time next winter. And he will have to work hard to rectify the character blemish he likely will sport for the remainder of this season.

Young issued a statement.

"I apologize to everyone I affected," the statement read, "the Ilitch family, the Detroit Tigers organization, my teammates, my family and the great Tigers fans that have supported me since Day One. I take this matter very seriously, and assure everyone that I will do everything I can to improve myself as a person and player."

Restoring the confidence of the organization becomes an immediate and necessary first step.

Contact Drew Sharp: 313-223-4055 or dsharp@freepress.com.

Posted 4/28/2012 1:09 AM ET
Updated 4/28/2012 11:45 AM ET
Tigers left fielder Delmon Young was arraigned in a Manhattan criminal court on Friday. Police say Young got into a fight with a group of men early Friday outside the team's midtown Manhattan hotel and yelled anti-Semitic epithets.
Mary Altaffer, AP
Tigers left fielder Delmon Young was arraigned in a Manhattan criminal court on Friday. Police say Young got into a fight with a group of men early Friday outside the team's midtown Manhattan hotel and yelled anti-Semitic epithets.

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