A Long Time Coming: Milton Bradley's Revelation

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A Long Time Coming: Milton Bradley's Revelation
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Anyone who knows anything about Milton Bradley’s career wasn’t surprised to hear about him in the news again for something other than his performance on the baseball field. 

Throughout his career, Bradley has rubbed more than a few people the wrong way and he has bounced around to eight different teams during his 11 years in the major leagues.

He’s always been a serviceable player; a career batting average of .276, with decent power, and a solid throwing arm. 

He even made the All-Star team in 2008 when he had his best season with the Texas Rangers.  But the reason Bradley continues to be a topic of conversation is because of the way he conducts himself.

Bradley has had minor altercations with the law, one of which even resulted in him spending three days in jail for speeding away from a police officer while at a traffic stop. 

But Bradley is vilified and reviled by some because of his behavior on the field.  While the list of incidents that involve Bradley behaving badly is longer than anyone wants to read, here is the abridged version of his past indiscretions;

-In 2004, Bradley was traded from the Indians to the Dodgers and had made it a few months without a blow up.  

But on June 3, he would be ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire.  After calmly placing his batting gloves and helmet in the batter's box, Bradley completely lost his mind and proceeded to get a bag of balls from the Dodgers dugout and throw it onto the field. 

He then threw one of the balls into the outfield and would have to be restrained by Dodgers manager Jim Tracy.

-In September 2004 while the Dodgers were visiting the Padres, a fan threw a plastic bottle in Bradley’s direction while he was playing right field.  Instead of just shrugging off the action as a fan behaving badly, Bradley picked up the bottle, left his position in the outfield and while yelling at the stands threw the bottle back into the crowd. 

After being ejected from the game, Bradley ripped off his shirt and cap while proceeding towards the Dodgers dugout, and urged the fans to continue to boo him.

-Also while playing with the Dodgers; Bradley had a very public spat with second baseman and team captain, Jeff Kent.  During which Bradley accused Kent of being a bad teammate “The problem is, he doesn't know how to deal with African-American people,” Bradley would say of Kent. 

- In 2007, after Bradley had essentially forced a trade from the Oakland A’s by refusing to appear in the minor leagues (as a part of his rehab from an injury), he found himself on the San Diego Padres. 

During a September game, in what was one of the most bizarre sports injuries ever, Bradley began arguing with first base umpire Mike Winters.  At which point, while being restrained by manager Bud Black, he fell to the ground and began clutching his knee. 

It was later revealed that Bradley tore his ACL during the argument and to make the incident even more bizarre, it came to light that Mike Winters had actually started the entire confrontation by provoking Bradley with a string of obscenities.

- While enjoying the best season of his career with the Texas Rangers in 2008 (which would see Bradley bat .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI), Bradley took exception to comments that were made by Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre during a game in Kansas City. 

Bradley had heard the comments in the Rangers clubhouse, which compared him to Josh Hamilton, who had struggled with alcohol and drug addictions for the last four seasons. 

Bradley was upset with the comments and left the Rangers clubhouse during the game looking to confront Lefebvre.  Before he could find the announcer, Bradley was re-routed back to the clubhouse by Rangers GM Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington

After returning to the clubhouse, Bradley would not only begin screaming at teammates in the dugout, he also broke down in tears.  

-Coming off his aforementioned career season in 2008 with the Texas Rangers, Bradley signed a 3 year, $30 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Bradley’s time in Chicago would be mired in controversy, and he would only play there for a single season.  Not only was Bradley unproductive on the field (.257 batting average and only 12 home runs) he also clashed with Cubs manager Lou Piniella as well as the team’s GM Jim Hendry off the field. 

He was traded to the Seattle Mariners after the 2009 season, at which point Bradley sounded off as to why he didn’t play well in Chicago.  He blamed his poor play on the fans, and also accused them of being racist saying he didn’t feel safe in Chicago, citing the amount of hate mail he received while playing for the Cubs.       

There’s no doubt that people pick on Bradley because of his reputation and the way he reacts to certain situations.  At the same time, Bradley should realize that especially because he’s a professional athlete, people are going to try and provoke him to see how he will react.

Because of this, in pretty much every stop along the way Bradley has fought with everyone; fans, coaches, umpires, broadcasters, and even teammates.  But the biggest thing that Bradley has been fighting against is himself. 

Many of the incidents that have made Bradley an infamous figure in the court of public opinion involve him losing his temper and reacting in ways that few other players ever do.

In almost all of these instances, if he would exercise some self-control and take a deep breath he could have avoided another one of the patented blow-ups that Bradley detractors continue to point to as examples of why he doesn’t belong in Major League Baseball. 

Up until yesterday, it would seem that he hasn’t been able to admit to himself that he’s the one who has the problem. 

It’s no secret that Bradley had a few rocky stays with the various teams he has played for, which always seemed to end the same way.  The team gets fed up with Bradley’s antics and ships him off to another team willing to take a chance on him. 

On his way out the door, Bradley would point the finger at anyone he could to explain why it didn’t work out, but he would never say anything about his own involvement in the situation. 

But finally, on Wednesday, he stopped blaming others for his problems and took responsibility for the situation.  

Bradley reached out to the Seattle Mariners organization and admitted that he needs help dealing with the psychological and emotional issues that he has been living with throughout his life.

These issues have not been identified and they probably never will be, but if you look at Milton Bradley’s uncanny ability to continuously put himself in these positions you can’t say that he is a mentally stable individual.

It has certainly been a long time coming for Milton Bradley’s revelation that he needs help.  He has been known for his fiery temper and out-of-control antics for as long as he has played in the league. 

Along the way, many have tried to counsel Bradley and help him to shed his negative image and behavior.  But so far it hasn’t worked out very well, and maybe it’s because Bradley himself wasn’t ready to admit that he was the problem.

Perhaps the most intelligent thing I’ve heard about this entire situation is from Justice B. Hill, who covered Bradley when he played for Cleveland early in his career:

"Some people are so angry and carry such baggage with them that you have to let them go. They're not worth saving," Hill said. "Bradley is not worth saving until he saves himself. Because it's always someone else's fault. Someone always didn't do right by Bradley."

A lightning rod for controversy, Bradley is always outspoken, and never at a loss for words, which has turned him into one of the most controversial players in all of baseball. 

There’s no telling where this situation ends up, as Bradley has been given both the support of the Seattle Mariners as well as time away from baseball to try and fix whatever has gone wrong in his life. 

Hopefully, Bradley will be able to get the help he needs.

If something positive does come of this situation it would certainly be ironic that for once, something he said will help him avoid trouble rather than getting him in deeper than he already is.            

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