But by nature, more than anything, Young is inquisitive.
“He’s wanted to know not just about me and my work,” said Dick Patrick, the Washington Capitals longtime team president. “But he’s the kind of guy that if he sat down with you, he’d probably be asking questions about how you go about your job. He just wants to know.”
Which is how Young, with an entire baseball operations department to oversee and develop, ended up at Capitals training camp a couple of Septembers ago. He brought his manager at the time, Chris Woodward. And he picked brains.
“He sat in our war room with us, and he wanted to see different things from the hockey side,” said Chris Patrick, the Capitals’ associate general manager. “At the time, he was curious about the interplay between analytics and scouting. He was curious about players in terms of contracts and assigning value to them. It was a really interesting discussion.”
A business discussion. A sports discussion. And a family discussion.
It’s worth noting here that Young came to the Caps because of his genuine curiosity about how another sport conducts its business and makes its evaluations. But he was met with an open door because he is all but blood. Dick Patrick is Young’s father-in-law. Chris Patrick is Young’s brother-in-law. If Young is at home in Dallas — his hometown, where he once pitched for the Rangers — he is more likely to be wearing the red and blue of Washington than the red and blue of Texas.
“He wears more Caps stuff than Rangers stuff,” Dick Patrick said.
“He’s a huge Caps fan,” Chris Patrick said.
And the Patricks are now huge Texas Rangers fans. But that’s a relatively new development.
This alliance between a baseball executive and one of hockey’s royal families — Dick’s grandfather Lester was the longtime coach of the New York Rangers — was born at Princeton in the early part of this century. There, the two-sport athlete met Elizabeth Patrick, a midfielder on the Tigers’ soccer team.
Chris Patrick, who preceded his sister at Princeton and played hockey there, remembers going back for one of Liz’s soccer games. For some reason, Chris Young ended up hanging around, sitting with Chris Patrick in the stands. Afterward, Chris Patrick wanted to go to Hoagie Haven, a famous Princeton hangout. Young’s response: “I’ll drive you.”
“I was thinking, ‘Is this guy being really nice to me for some reason?’ ” Chris Patrick said.
It was soon revealed that Young and Liz Patrick were dating. And seriously. In 2000, when they were sophomores, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Young in the third round of the MLB draft. The Ivy League, back then, had rules that if you signed to play professionally in one sport, you couldn’t play collegiately in any.
So Young had a decision to make: turn pro in baseball and give up on basketball or continue to play both in college.
“He had some leverage because of that,” Dick Patrick said. “And if I remember correctly, he used it to his advantage.”
Signing with the Pirates meant an odd finish to his academic career and an unorthodox path to marriage. Young would load up on courses in the fall and clear his slate in the spring so he could train and then play out the minor league season. Liz finished her athletic and academic career on schedule. When they both graduated in 2002, Liz took the path of a normal Princeton graduate — law school at Georgetown — while Young headed to Hickory, N.C., and Class A ball.
By the end of 2004, Young had both broken into the majors with the Rangers and married Liz Patrick. Over 13 seasons with five teams, Young pitched in 271 games, was an all-star with San Diego in 2007 and won a World Series with Kansas City in 2015.
Along the way, he and Liz had three kids. When he was done playing after 2017, there was little question what Young would do.
“He never really said, ‘One day I want to be a GM,’ ” Chris Patrick said. “But you could tell by talking to him if it was something he wanted to do, he’d be really, really good at it. The way he looked at players, talked about players, could manage people. He had the skills.”
The first stop was the MLB offices, where Young took a key role as a senior vice president for on-field operations — a position in which he had a significant voice in the eventual implementation of the pitch clock, among other things.
“That didn’t feel like it was a steppingstone for him,” Chris Patrick said. “He was fully engaged. He worked really, really hard.”
But after the 2020 season, a familiar voice called with an unfamiliar offer. Jon Daniels was once the general manager of the Rangers who traded Young to San Diego. Here, he was the Rangers’ president of baseball operations offering Young the chance to be his GM. By August 2022, with the Rangers in the midst of their sixth straight losing season, the club fired Daniels — and promoted Young.
So here it was that the Patricks were traveling up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to sit in the stands at Camden Yards for the first round of these playoffs — wearing the gear of the Rangers and not the Orioles. And here’s this family with ties to these sports, able to learn from each other. The sports are different. The language is common.
“I don’t know that ‘compassionate’ is the right word,” Chris Patrick said. “But there’s a mutual understanding that when you’re in these jobs, there’s a lot of noise out there from fans, from media, whatever. And sometimes you have to filter it out and believe in what you believe in.
“Chris is good at understanding that both from his side with his team and our side with the Caps. He has a sympathetic ear. He’s someone I can vent to because he gets where you’re coming from.”
Given the Capitals’ championship run in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, Chris Patrick knows where his brother-in-law is right now: Laser focused on the games ahead, trying to block out the noise. He’s not even going to call. With the Caps off to a shaky start, the Patricks have their own games ahead. Excuse them both, though, for glancing at the TV at Chris Young’s Rangers.