As Milton Bradley’s further descent, deeper into paranoid delusion continues unabated, I really wonder just how all of those naive dopes who defended him as recently as a couple of weeks ago feel. Actually, I don’t wonder. Because I don’t care, and you are all busy trying to dream up nasty tweets to hurl at Paul Sullivan, anyway.
Milton is who we thought he was. A passive-aggressive sociopath hell-bent on rewriting an inaccurate history–one in which he always plays the hapless victim–of his self-destruction on team, after team, after team.
And if you don’t think the Mariners watched his latest unbelievable interview on ESPN and thought “What the hell did we get ourselves into?” Well, they did.
Here’s what we know about Milton’s (less than) one year stay with the Chicago Cubs.
- He is apparently an awesome dinner date. As he managed to assuage any fear Jim Hendry about his past actions in a two hour dinner at a steak house. Hendry was so overwhelmed by Milton that he tripled the longest contract Milton had ever been offered (three years) and scurried home to trade the most awesomest, bestest, cutest Cub of all time, Mark DeRosa, to make room for Milton.
- Milton showed up for spring training and said all the things you expect to hear. He was so happy to be a Cub, he loved his trips to Chicago, he couldn’t wait to play with Derrek Lee, it was all gonna be great. He couldn’t wait to work with Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry again.
- The Cubs had a catered team meal in the clubhouse during spring training. Guys loaded up their plates, sat around eating and yucking it up and Milton ate his alone…in the weight room. To this day, nobody knows why. But Milton had already decided it was them and him.
- He hurt himself in his second at bat of the season. Stepping on first base.
- He got thrown out of his home debut, after pinch hitting and taking a third strike with the bases loaded.
- His next door locker buddy, Ryan Theriot stopped trying to talk to him in May because Milton would never acknowledge that Ryan was trying to talk to him in the first place.
- The Cubs fired Gerald Perry as hitting coach, citing his inability to connect with Milton as one of the main reasons for the move.
- In a game against the Twins he forgot how many outs there are, while posing after catching a routine flyball and then threw it into the stands allowing one run to score and another to advance two bases to third.
- Two weeks later, Milton is sent home during a game by Lou Piniella for throwing another in an increasingly frequent number of dugout tantrums.
- Milton tells writers that Cubs fans are yelling racist things at him during games. When asked if he wanted to be more specific, he didn’t. He later pretended to have never said such a thing.
- Weeks later, Milton says that his three year old son was the target of racially insensitive taunts by other three year olds at his day care. (Somebody had been watching too many ETrade commercials.) The next day, Milton didn’t seem to recall making those claims when asked to elaborate on them by reporters.
- Milton said that waitstaff at a restaurant hurled racial epithets at him and a dinner companion. The next day, Milton didn’t seem to understand what anyone was referring to when he was asked about it by reporters.
- Late in the season, Milton refused to pinch hit when asked to during a game, then engaged in a dugout tirade aimed at replacement hitting coach Von Joshua. The exchange was so one-sided and heated that one Cubs player describes it as, “Ugly and embarrassing. Even for Milton.” Even for Milton.
- The next day, Jim Hendry addressed the team and announced that Bradley had been suspended and would not be with the team the rest of the season. By several accounts, this announcement was met with applause by the players.
And that list is just the highlights.
That’s a pretty eventful year. But Milton has already topped himself, with new allegations. One, in particular, that ought to warm the hearts of the citizens of Mansfield, Ohio.
In an interview with Colleen Dominquez of ESPN, Milton suddenly remembered his tales of the wide-spread racism of three year olds in Chicago, racist busboys, and the wonders of hate mail that somehow arrives even without a stamp. It’s typical Milton. One on one he makes these claims. When asked by a group of reporters he can never seem to remember what he said in the first place.
- Milton says he received hate mail last year, and that he would just give it to the Cubs PR staff. As he described the mail, he said he could tell before he opened it what it was going to be. The hate mail didn’t include return addresses, he said. In the TV version of the interview that aired on Tuesday night, he mentioned some were postmarked Mansfield, Ohio. I’m sure Mansfield appreciates the shout out. They might have to rethink their slogan as “The Fun Center of Ohio.” Then you saw evidence of why what Milton says gets him in trouble. It doesn’t seem like he’s trying to describe that some of the mail had no postage on it, but when Dominguez suggests that is what his description sounds like, he goes with it. Without coming out and saying it himself, he’s now accused the Cubs clubhouse staff of hand delivering unmailed hate letters to him. Did he really mean that? Maybe. But it sure sounds like he wandered into that corner, then refused to let himself out of it. Again.
- He retells the tale of his three year old being taunted at day care. This time he intimates that he confronted the parents of the alleged three year old racists.
- His new version of his story about being disparaged now includes Alfonso Soriano, and a patron saying they don’t deserve their money and should go back to the ghetto.
- He claims his season went downhill after he got tossed in his first Wrigley at bat. His tortured logic is that he was worried about getting thrown out of games so he couldn’t play “his game.” It’s odd, because the reaction of the Wrigley crowd that day was one of “Milton got robbed, that was a terrible call! And, oh, look, he’s sticking up for himself!” But he’s too smart of a guy not to know that with his history of red-assed on field behavior (which once included him tearing his ACL during an argument) that most umpires were going to cut his theatrics short by giving him the thumb. He’s worked hard to earn that privilege over the years.
- He says that he wanted Lou Piniella to apologize in front of the team after calling him “a piece of shit,” during the incident when he was sent home from a game at US Comiskular. Apparently Lou apologizing to Milton, and telling the media that he apologized to Milton wasn’t enough But Milton said it was the “Christian” thing to accept it and move on.
- He says he only received hate mail in Los Angeles, Oakland and Chicago. Hey, three out of seven isn’t so bad! The completely ambivalent fan bases in Montreal, San Diego and Texas didn’t mind him. Cleveland loved him so much that after he hit .321 in 2003 his manager demanded he be traded and the GM took two whole days to ship him off to Los Angeles for the immortal Franklin Gutierrez.
- Milton says he doesn’t think the city of Chicago is racist. “If you weren’t booing me, I’m not talking to you.”
Glad you cleared that up.
As somebody who has attended games at stadiums around the country, my suggestion to Milton would be that if he thought Cubs fans liked to yell racist things, he might want to leave Atlanta and St. Louis off of his ever growing list of teams he’s going to play for.
Here’s how bad it was last year with the Cubs. Do you really think that Jim Hendry wanted to suspend Milton and ruin what little trade value he had left? No. Sending Milton home wasn’t Hendry trying to deal with one player, it was him having to deal with the other players on the team. Because the Bradley contract could very well be the tipping point mistake that costs Hendry his job during or after this season, you know he wanted to salvage whatever could out of the situation. And he still decided to send Milton home.
And baseball players put up with a lot from their teammates. For them to have openly celebrated his banishment is astonishing. Hey, they didn’t even clap when Phil Nevin left, and everybody hates Phil Nevin.
But now Milton is gone. He’s in Seattke and they can deal with him. And if you don’t think they’re not already regretting it, you’re as nutty as he is.