A fact: Young's opinions strong

Dmitri Young of the Tigers weighs 250 pounds, and the designated hitter likes to talk big, as well.

Baseball Week

April 24, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN STAFF

Just when you thought baseball players were as staid and personality-challenged as pro golfers, the Boston Red Sox and their idiots won the 2004 World Series.

They added much-needed color to baseball's bland landscape last season.

But not all of the sport's characters wear "B's" on their hats. There are some without rings, some away from the burning spotlight, who can still fill up a notebook.

One of baseball's most outspoken players passed through Camden Yards last week, with a hot bat and a sizzling mouth.

Dmitri Young is a 6-foot-2, 250-pound Detroit Tigers designated hitter with shoulder-length cornrows, a bushy beard and an easy smirk.

The guy who once dyed his hair and beard orange-yellow hasn't held back this spring. He declared that the Tigers have a new attitude because "milk-and-cookie" teams don't win titles. He predicted the American League's wild-card representative would come from the forgotten AL Central. And he said the division crown should end up as a battle between the Tigers and Cleveland Indians.

Early last week in the visitors' clubhouse at Camden Yards, question after question was tossed to Young, and he swung at each one. Some responses were humorous, others enlightening and others might offend.

Give him credit, though, he shied away from nothing. Question his logic, but at least he has an opinion and, unlike many pro athletes, shares it.

So step into the world according to Dmitri Young.

His thoughts on trash talking: "Pretty much the reason I say that [stuff] is because it is funny. I know the players on the other team talk trash, too. It's all in fun."

And what about those who take offense? "It's a doggoned game. If you are going to take that serious, you need to go smoke something and relax. Go have a good time. This is life. This is fun. We are not going to be playing this game forever. We've got to make the most of it."

His thoughts on New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner criticizing his players: "I don't see [Tigers owner] Mike Ilitch coming down on us. Dang, I know [Steinbrenner] is the owner and got all that money, but can he play the game?"

On the Yankees: "I can't stand the Yankees. I could care less about them. They don't wear facial hair. I would never play for that team. I won't shave. You can print that: I'll never play for the Yankees."

What would Young look like without his beard? "I'd look like a doggoned grizzly bear. Take that back. I don't know what the [heck] I'd look like without facial hair. I don't want to know what I'd look like."

Onto more prickly stuff, Young's thoughts on steroids: "I look at it like this: If you use it, that's fine. But will you be able to watch your kids grow up? Will you be around to be a grandfather? That's the question."

How about Congress' potential involvement in the issue: "They need to try and find Bin Laden or clean up the homeless situation, worry about something pertinent to the U.S. instead of sticking their nose in our business."

His frustration with the congressional hearings on steroids: "The two parents that were up there, they are full of [junk]. I'm sorry what happened to their kids, but don't sit there and say, `My son's favorite player is Barry Bonds and he took steroids.' How the [heck] do you know Barry Bonds took steroids? Did he see Barry Bonds do it?"

Young on Bonds, his work ethic and the treatment he has received: "Why don't they talk about how hard the man works? Why is it that, `Oh, he gets older, he is supposed to get flabby.' I look at him like Jesus Christ. I'm talking Barry Bonds. As great as he is, he gets persecuted more and more and more. It's not fair. It's like a witch hunt, and it's really uncalled for."

On Bonds the player: "He revolutionized the game and no one wants to give him credit. Two-hundred thirty-two walks, I don't even think I've had that in a career."

EXTRA BASES

Say what?

"[The Dodgers' rookies] were talking about how you can use two towels when you shower up here. In the minor leagues, one towel was about it."

- Los Angeles Dodgers rookie reliever Steve Schmoll, on the differences between the majors and Single-A ball.

Who's he?

Clint Barmes, a 26-year-old shortstop for the Colorado Rockies, is having the month of a lifetime in his first April in the big leagues. In his first 15 games, he was batting nearly .450 with an on-base percentage over .500. He had a game-winning homer on Opening Day and hasn't slowed since. Barmes (pronounced Bar-mess) had three four-hit games in the season's first 17 days.

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