The Indians were forced to deal Bradley before the 2004 season after a publicized altercation with then-manager and notable clubhouse cancer, Eric Wedge.
Feeling tightness in his groin, Bradley did not sprint to first after hitting a weak pop fly in a Spring Training game, March 31. Wedge, big bad meanie that he was, called him out for it: “Milton crossed the line that day for the final time,” he said.
“It’s a shame we had to part with Milton,” Indians GM Mark Shapiro said Tuesday, “but it was for his own good. It was clear that he could not succeed on a team ruled by an iron-fisted dictator.”
Five-and-a-half years later, Cubs GM Jim Hendry finds himself in a similar position. Bradley struggled with slumps and injuries in 2009 after signing a three-year, $30 million-dollar contract in January.
“I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment,” Bradley said in a September interview, “Everything [in Chicago] is just bashing you. It’s just negativity.”
“No one blames Milton for what happened this year,” said Hendry. “If he had been playing in a supportive atmosphere, he would have stayed healthy and hit 50 homers.”
Having fired Wedge in September, Shapiro hopes that the Indians can bring Bradley back to the team. While Bradley had said that playing in Cleveland was “like a sinking ship,” he called the situation “strictly a problem with Eric Wedge.”
“Some people want to be bigger than they are,” Bradley said after the trade, “You have no credentials, you have no history of anything, how are you going to tell someone else what he needs to be doing? I can’t respect somebody that has nothing to go on.”
“If only we had listened to him before,” Shapiro said, “Maybe we would have won the World Series a few times.”
“It would be tough to lose Bradley,” Hendry said, “but we’re talking about something bigger than ourselves. This guy is a legend, he’s living history. Can we in good conscience stifle his talent just because he helps the team?”
“Milton has been bullied his entire career,” Shapiro added, “Can you imagine what it must have been like for him? It’s not just Wedge and Chicago. This guy had to deal with [Jeff] Kent, the racist. Can you imagine playing with a teammate who thinks that you are inferior because of the color of your skin? He’s like freakin’ Jackie Robinson. Except better.”
Bradley could not be reached for comment, as he is on a book tour to promote his new biography, Bradley at the Bat.
(In case it was not apparent, this article is a joke and all quotes are fictitious, except Bradley's and Wedge's.)