To get us started, I'm going for a fifty game suspension. I'll open by saying that, unless your answer is 'five games' or 'a whole season,' you're leaving yourself liable to attack from both sides. however, I do feel that fifty games is on the harder side of the scale, so I'll start by explaining why I feel such a suspension is required, then move on to why more than that would be excessive.
In just about every sport in the world, striking an official remains the ultimate taboo. In Rugby Union, for example, a sport where fistfights remain relatively commonplace, such an act carries an automatic life ban.
Delmon's bat-throwing was both extremely disrespectful, and dangerous. Whether Delmon intended to hit the umpire or not is, to my mind, moot. By flipping the bat in the guy's direction, Delmon had to know that it was at least possible that the umpire would be hit. Whilst, given the manner in which the bat was thrown, serious injury was very unlikely, the bat was not that far from hitting the ump in the face. There is no need for us to try and work out what Young was thinking, because he clearly wasn't. That is no excuse.
Members of the media often pontificate on the need for sports stars to 'set an example,' and deride them when they act disrespectully towards officials or opponents, or abuse drugs, or are seen to be 'cheating' or 'acting immorally.' Here we find baseball presented with a first class opportunity to step up and demonstrate that Umpire abuse is not tolerated, does not belong in the game and will be dealth with harshly. If even one high school kid thinks that it is ok to flip a bat at an official because Delmon did and pretty much got away with it, the International League will have a lot to answer for.
This is also not the first example of Young's temper causing him problems. As you will all know, Delmon had previously served a three-game suspension for bumping an ump, whilst in AA. As with criminal activity, previous good behaviour mitigates, whilst prior offenses aggravate. It is clear that that suspension did not serve to curb the players' outbursts, and simply for his own good, Young ought to have plenty of time to reflect on his actions.
If the young star as a result of this mistake ends up better able to think before he acts during his MLB career, baseball will be the better for it. Punishing Delmon insufficiently presents the considerable risk that in years to come, the game's hottest star will be yet another arrogant hothead who believes himself to be bigger than the laws, and what kind of an advert for the game will that be?
Why then, am I not calling for a season-long, or even life ban? Largely due to the lack of precedent for any such punishment for similar offenses committed previously. Izzy Alcantara got only six games for deliberately kicking a catcher. Now, violence to one's opponents is rightly considered to be a lesser offense than violence to an official, and Alcantara can easily be argued to have gotten off lightly. But nonetheless, is what young did really twenty times worse, as would be implied by a full-season ban?
Carl Everett only got ten games for a headbutt on an official. Now, the fact that Everett's act was not in a Major League game may have saved him some time, but it seems to me to be a fairly similar offense to Delmon's. Likewise, Roberto Alomar spitting in an umpire's face produced only a five-game ban. Spitting might be a less dangerous act, but it is equally disgusting.
With this in mind, it seems obivous that it would be unfair to apply the nuclear option of a season-long or lifetime ban, given that only 'slap on the wrist' type punishments have been meted out in the past. By all means, extend it beyond those pitiful sentences, as times have changed and a message needs to be sent. But a fifty-game suspension would, I believe, send that signal without simply tearing up all possible precedent, a situation which would give Young's camp the right to complain, and possibly create a victim mentality. In a sport which still only suspends third-time steroid abusers for sixty games, fifty would be a sufficient punishment for a young man who lost control.