Dmitri Young has done this before. Anyone who doubts that DY can come back from the health issues which cost him most of last season to make the '09 Nationals' roster just has to look back to the 2007 season, when Young, who had fallen out of favor, (and almost out of baseball) and been released by the Detroit Tigers the previous year, signed on with Washington and rewarded their faith in him by hitting .320 with 38 doubles, 13 HR's and 74 RBI's, earning himself an All-Star selection and the MLB 2007 Comeback Player of the Year Award. Dmitri Young is in camp with Washington this Spring, on the field, healthy, and once again trying to fight his way back...
Tonight at 9:00 pm on the MLB Network, MLB Productions presents their first-ever original film, "We Are Young", which focuses on the struggles Dmitri and his younger brother Delmon have had to overcome to make it the Major Leagues, and I was given a chance to ask the Executive in charge of Production and Vice President of MLB Productions, David Gavant a few questions as a preview to the film's debut on the MLB Network:
1) With all the stories in baseball, how did you decide on Dmitri and Delmon for MLB Productions' first original film?
WE FIRST DECIDED TO FOLLOW THIS STORY IN 2001 WHEN DELMON WAS A 15 YEAR OLD PHENOM WITH A BIG BROTHER IN THE BIG LEAGUES. AT THAT POINT WE THOUGHT WE WERE PRODUCING A FILM THAT WOULD BE BASEBALL'S ANSWER TO "HOOP DREAMS" WHERE WE WOULD DOCUMENT DELMON'S JOURNEY TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES. THROUGH 2003 (DELMON WAS THE #1 PICK IN THE AMATEUR DRAFT AND DMITRI WAS AN ALL-STAR) THAT IS THE FILM WE THOUGHT WE HAD. BUT THEN THE STORY OF THE YOUNG FAMILY WOULD TAKE SOME SOME UNEXPECTED TURNS, WHICH ACTUALLY MADE FOR A MORE COMPELLING FILM ABOUT A BASEBALL FAMILY GROWING CLOSER IN TOUGH TIMES.
2) MLB Productions seems to be making a distinction between "documentaries" (like Josh Hamilton's) and "original films" (like the Young brothers')...what's the difference? Just semantics?
THE YOUNG FILM WAS 7 YEARS IN THE MAKING. WE WERE SHOOTING AT KEY JUNCTURES THROUGHOUT AND HAD PLANNED TO GO THE FILM FESTIVAL ROUTE ONCE THE STORY CAME TO A RESOLUTION. AS FOR JOSH HAMILTON, WE MADE THE DECISION AFTER HIS INCREDIBLE 2008 SEASON. WE THEN WENT ABOUT THE PROCESS OF GATHERING THE NECESSARY ELEMENTS TO PRODUCE THIS DOCUMENTARY. THAT IS THE REAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE TWO PROJECTS.
3) How willing were Dmitri and Delmon to discuss their respective struggles? How about their family and friends?
I AM SURE THERE WERE TIMES THAT DELMON AND DMITRI WERE RETICENT TO TALK ABOUT THEIR STRUGGLES, BUT ULTIMATELY THEY STAYED TRUE TO THE SPIRIT OF THE FILM AND COOPERATED WITH US AT EVERY TURN. FOR EXAMPLE, WE INTERVIEWED DELMON JUST DAYS AFTER HIS BAT THROWING INCIDENT WHEN HIS AGENT HAD CALLED FOR A MEDIA BLACKOUT. WITH DMITRI WE SPENT TIME WITH THE EMBATTLED BALLPLAYER DURING THE 2005 WORLD SERIES (A MONTH AFTER HE HAD BEEN CUT FROM THE TIGERS AND WAS UNDER VIRTUAL HOUSE ARREST STEMMING FROM DOMESTIC BATTERY CHARGES EARLIER IN THE YEAR) AS HIS FORMER TEAM PLAYED IN THE FALL CLASSIC. IT WAS A GUT-WRENCHING TIME FOR HIM AND YET DMITRI OPENED HIS HEART TO US.
4) Any chance Dmitri discusses why he knocks off his helmet when he doubles, or tucks his arm into his chest when he rounds the bases after homering? (If not any other interesting personal information on Dmitri?)
FAMILY MEMBERS TALK ABOUT DMITRI IN THAT REGARD. VIEWERS OF THE FILM WILL SEE HOW MUCH OF A BIG LOVABLE GUY DMITRI IS AND HOW HIS INFECTIOUS PERSONALITY MAKES HIM EASY TO ROOT FOR.
5) Did you get a sense for how closely the two brothers follow each other's careers?
DESPITE THEIR 12 YEAR AGE DIFFERENCE, THEY ARE VERY CLOSE. DMITRI IS DELMON'S BIGGEST FAN WHILE THE YOUNGER OF THE YOUNGS HAS MOTIVATED HIS BIGGER BROTHER WHEN HE NEEDED IT THE MOST.
6) Is the next original film already under production? More planned for the future?
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PRODUCTIONS IS CURRENTLY WORKING ON OUR NEXT FILM AND WILL HAVE MORE DETAILS IN THE COMING MONTHS...
7) Were the Nationals willing to talk about Dmitri and his time in DC?
THE NATIONALS WERE VERY OPEN TO TALKING ABOUT DMITRI AND HIS TIME IN DC. IN FACT, THEY HANDLED HIS SITUATION ABOUT AS WELL AS AN ORGANIZATION COULD HANDLE IT. GM JIM BOWDEN (DMITRI'S FOMRER GM IN CINCY) SIGNED HIM TO A MINOR LEAGUE CONTRACT BEFORE THE 2007 SEASON, BUT MADE IT CLEAR THAT TEAM OFFICIALS WOULD BE MONITORING HIS SITUATION VERY CLOSELY. AS NATIONALS FANS KNOW, HE WOULD MOVE UP THE DEPTH CHART DURING SPRING TRAINING, STARTED @ FIRST BASE ON OPENING DAY AND ENDED UP BEING THEIR LONE REPRESENTATIVE @ THE ALL-STAR GAME. THE NATIONALS HAD SHOWN FORESIGHT IN GIVING DMITRI ANOTHER CHANCE AND HE REWARDED THEM AS HE WAS NAMED THE 2007 COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
Thanks to Lauren and David for agreeing to the interview, I saw an interview with DY yesterday, and he seems pleased with the way the film turned out, and even hinted that there might be more to come...
Tonight at 9:00 on the MLB Network...."We Are Young"