On his way out of Chicago, Milton Bradley burned a number of bridges.
When asked about his lackluster season with the Chicago Cubs, Bradley didn’t refrain from playing the blame game. He blamed the coaching staff, the media and the fans for an unprecedented level of expectations and pressure.
“I never hit more than 22 homers in my career and all of a sudden I get to Chicago and they expect me to hit 30.” Bradley said this offseason. “It doesn't make sense… Just a lot of things that try to make me a player I'm not."
Bradley’s disdain for the Chicago media grew to such heights that he even refused to speak with them in the preseason. “Beat it.” Bradley told the Chicago media. “You guys ran me out of town.”
Bradley returned to Chicago tonight for the first time since his infamous departure. He is playing in the south side of Chicago against the Chicago White Sox, not too far from the Cubs on the north side of the city.
Not surprisingly, the Chicago media found their way to Bradley’s locker on Friday.
The inevitable question came forward when a Chicago reporter asked Milton Bradley his thoughts on being back in Chicago. Bradley’s response was surprisingly brief, yet delightfully pointed.
“Just move on.” Bradley told the reporters, and quickly added, “God bless Seattle.”
His answer involves two interesting statements, both of which deserve to be discussed.
Bradley’s Response to being in Chicago
First, Bradley’s response to his presence in Chicago is all that can be expected from him. “Just move on,” Bradley said, as if the median nor the fans could provoke him into an anger-laced tirade of 2009 proportions.
Was Bradley sincere in this statement? Maybe, maybe not, but consider this: Bradley has been booed brutally in two different cities already this season. The fans in both Oakland and Texas (Bradley’s employers in 2006 and 2008, respectively) booed Bradley incessantly when the Mariners came to town.
Of course, Bradley did not respond as coolly then, infamously flipping Rangers fans the finger, but this stop could be the one where Bradley pulls it together.
The bottom line is that Bradley has already faced criticism from not one, but two fan bases. Neither of these fan bases nor media outlets were as vicious as the Chicago crowd, but it’s possible that Milton Bradley has learned to ignore the fans by this point in the season and just play baseball.
The Mariners hope, as do their fans, that Bradley will stay true to his words to the Chicago media and “just move on.”
Bradley’s Statement Concerning Seattle
Second, Bradley’s statement about Chicago sheds light into his growing relationship with the Seattle Mariners, its fans, and the Seattle media.
When asked what he likes about the Seattle media, Bradley answered, “I’ve never had ten people with a camera in my face in Seattle. This is about baseball… In Seattle, they care about winning”
These words show a level of comfort with the Seattle area that could mend Bradley’s dramatic past.
Quite possibly, he saved his most relaxing words for last. “Seattle works for me… I don’t have to do anything, just be myself… Everywhere else people want you to be someone else. I’m going to be me.”
If Bradley can relax and play consistent baseball, the Seattle Mariners should stay content for the entire 2010 season.
Unlike Chicago, the Seattle Mariners haven’t placed Milton Bradley in a high-risk situation. He has settled into the fifth or sixth spot in the batting order, and is slowly improving at the plate.
In his first seven games, Bradley was 1-22 (.045). In the seven games since, he is batting 6-20 (.300).
It remains to be seen if Seattle is the cure to Milton Bradley’s controversial behavior, but so far Bradley seems to be fitting in just fine. The fans are warming to him, the media is supporting him, and the Mariners organization had repeatedly given him their vote of confidence.
Let’s hope Milton Bradley continues to say “God bless Seattle,” and the season rolls on.