Milton Bradley, Seattle's Mercurial OF, Takes Leave of Absence

Joseph JonesContributor IIIMay 5, 2010

Milton Bradley has asked the Seattle Mariners management for help in dealing with personal issues.  Rather unsurprisingly, that was the breaking news out of Seattle tonight.

Bradley met with manager Don Wakamatsu and GM Jack Zduriencik on Wednesday morning and told the pair, "I need your help."

Zduriencik says the team will do whatever it can to help Bradley.

Bradley told the Mariners management that his issues have put him in a position such that he can't compete the way he expects and that "it's been a long time coming."

Not to make light of a man's unfortunate situation, but has there ever been a bigger understatement?

The guy's career has been, to put it kindly, "colorful" up to this point. I think the fact that he once sustained a season-ending injury while arguing with an umpire says just about everything one can say about his career track.

Simply put, the man has burned more bridges than Sherman did on his way through Georgia.

Yet, prior to this season, someone in baseball gave him another chance to wipe the slate clean, to begin anew.  The Seattle Mariners, in perhaps the most stress-free of markets, came a callin' on the Chicago Cubs and tossed Milton one last lifeline.

GM Zduriencik is certain things will work out with Bradley. Of Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu, Zduriencik said, "He allows players to be who they are."

The only thing the big love-fest was missing was a throng of nature-loving hippies singing "Kumbaya."

And how did our poor, misunderstood soul repay that utterly naive display of faith from the Mariners organization?

The season wasn't even 10 games old and we saw Bradley start 1-for-22, flip off the Texas crowd, and have two closed-door meetings with Wakamatsu. Discussions were all over talk radio about how long the Mariners would wait before pulling the plug, as Jim Hendry and the Cubs did last September.

Bradley is constantly in the middle of some sort of tension, some sort of drama, and that cannot be a coincidence. And it can't always be someone else's fault.

We're talking about a man who gets to play baseball for a living, yet projects himself as if he's some poor schlepp struggling to make ends meet at some crummy job.

This guy takes his incredibly blessed life for granted, sports a misguided sense of entitlement, and then has the audacity to act like it's a burden to walk around with his level of talent.

If you dare question his actions, he has an arsenal of accusations to toss your way. Any criticism clearly indicates that you are racist, insensitive, and just don't have the capacity to understand the strife he feels on a daily basis. 

Remember, he's saddled with this talent that he didn't ask for.

Not to sound cruel or indifferent to what could very well be some significant issues the man is going through, but this is the man that the world sees Milton Bradley as.

He and his friends can regale us with tales of how he's a perfectionist and he just cares so much that his temper gets the best of him.

His agents can remind us of his impoverished upbringing and talk about how he tries to give back to the community.  They can say it time and time again—"he's really a good person at heart"—but it will more often than not fall on deaf ears.

Because that isn't the Bradley that we know. The best way to start proving to people what a good person you are is to start showing it.

Hopefully, this isn't the beginning of some sort of Oliver Stone-worthy, paranoia-fueled diatribe by the mercurial outfielder where he fails to take responsibility for the world he has carved out for himself.

If Bradley is truly looking inside himself for answers and is serious about seeking help, it will be a profound moment for the guy. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not he is sincere.

One cannot discount the positive impact this kind of introspection could have on his life. 

The shame will be if he is not ready to be honest and this week winds up as just another odd chapter in the strange and twisted tale that best describes his career to date.

I wish him the best of luck in dealing with the demons that are plaguing him, asking of him only one thing. 

As you work your way through these troubled times, look in the mirror with open and honest eyes. 

Then come back to us a different man than the Milton Bradley we now know.

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