Milton Bradley: Who Were We Kidding?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer ISeptember 21, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 03:  Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs looks on against the Milwaukee Brewers during their MLB game on July 3, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Before Sunday's game in St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs sent outfielder Milton Bradley home for the rest of the season.

Bradley, according to Cubs GM Jim Hendry, was suspended for the remainder of the 2009 season because the way he was speaking to the media about the Cubs' fans was becoming increasingly intolerable.

What surprises me more than Bradley's suspension is that there are people defending him.

There are readers and writers on this site that will undoubtedly spill hellfire onto the comments board below this story, like Marco Radenkovich, saying Bradley never got a fair chance as a member of the Cubs. The fans never bought into him as a player. He's a martyr.

Some might even go as far as to remind me that Bradley only made $5 million this year, and that a relative value based on his overall production this year would indicate that he has outplayed that salary figure.

As Chris Farley once so eloquently said, "Whoop-de-frickin'-do."

My issue with Bradley has nothing to do with his erratic performance on the field, though I'll state my issue with that production anyway.

He came out of the gates looking weak, as the man brought in because of his ability to get on base struck out 10 times in his first 34 at bats. He batted just .118 in April, with a mediocre .333 on-base percentage.

Though he was signed to bat in the middle of the order, Bradley had just six home runs and 21 runs batted in at the All Star Break. In fact, this OBP Jedi had more strike outs (48) than walks (41) in the first half of the season.

In the second half, Bradley's numbers have improved, albeit not to the levels he achieved in Texas last year. He has struck out 95 times this year, while drawing just 66 walks, and it appears he'll end the season with only a dozen home runs.

Again, my problem is not with the paltry production from Bradley this year.

My problem is that Bradley, like Terrell Owens, is a diva. He thinks he deserves a golden toilet and what he would leave in it would smell like roses. Between Bradley's ears, he's the only sane person in the world.

What's unfortunate for Bradley, though, is that the rest of the world doesn't reside between his two ears. Indeed, none of the general managers for the seven teams he's played for this decade believe he's sane, either.

Some people on this site believe Bradley never got a fighter's chance with the Cubs. They'll say he deserved the benefit of the doubt, and should have come to Chicago with a clean slate.


With Bradley's resume, when he came to Chicago, he needed to earn the respect of both the fans and the media. In fact, let's take a look at that resume for those defenders who have forgotten why Bradley's a free agent on an annual basis.

Just days before the 2004 season began, Bradley got into an altercation with Eric Wedge, then his manager, in Cleveland. The Indians decided to trade Bradley to the Dodgers.

In 2005, while with the Dodgers, Bradley disagreed with a call and threw anything that wasn't nailed down in the home dugout onto the field. After the 2005 season, the Dodgers traded Bradley to the Oakland A's.

Bradley only earned a part-time role in Oakland in 2006, but his temper again earned him more attention than accolades. In 2007, Bradley was designated for assignment by Oakland in July and was traded to the San Diego Padres for Andrew Brown. Brown, with Franklin Gutierrez, was  traded for Bradley in his move from Cleveland to Los Angeles years before.

Despite only spending a couple months in San Diego, Bradley again wore out his welcome. As the Padres were trying to ride eventual Cy Young winner Jake Peavy to a deep playoff push, Bradley blew out his knee arguing with an umpire.

He would miss the rest of the 2007 season with a torn ACL, suffered when he tripped on the coach that was holding him back.

After that game, Bradley would throw his team under the bus to the local media. And, after the 2007 season, Bradley was again unemployed.

Bradley signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers before 2008, and had the most productive season of his tumultuous career. But, again, the season was marred by controversy.

During a series against the Kansas City Royals, Bradley took enough offense to comments by Royals commentator Ryan Lefebvre that he left the clubhouse and stormed up the ramp towards the press box to confront him.

Rangers manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels had to chase down and eventually contain Bradley before he reached Lefebvre.

Not surprisingly, the Rangers followed the Indians, Dodgers, Athletics, and Padres in not inviting Bradley back.

Bradley has a long track record of being a player that no team wants around for very long. His defenders will point out that the fans were hard on Bradley in Los Angeles, and the umpire cursed at him in San Diego, and the television guy in Kansas City was picking on him...

At what point do we recognize the common denominator?

Bradley has worn out his welcome everywhere he's been, which is why he needed to back up the statements that started his Cubs career.

He told the Chicago media that he wasn't a bad guy, and that he had changed. He wasn't going to be a problem for the Cubs after signing a three-year, $30 million deal.

And then he got ejected for arguing a strike call in his first game at Wrigley Field. Yes, Marco, that was a terrible strike call, and anyone would have argued it's validity. But the fact that Bradley claimed to be changed, and started his Chicago career off with an ejection, didn't set the stage for a warm reception.

Bradley was hurt when he was ejected, and was eventually suspended by Major League Baseball for making contact with the umpire.

Rather than taking the suspension and serving it as a few days to get healthy, Bradley selfishly challenged the suspension. He wouldn't play while waiting for the hearing because he was hurt, and eventually had to serve the suspension anyway.

Altercations with umpires, and suspensions, are nothing new for Bradley.

Later in the 2009 season, Bradley got into a shouting match with Cubs manager Lou Piniella at US Cellular Field. Piniella told Bradley to take a shower and go home during a cross-town series against the White Sox.

Altercations with coaches are nothing new for Bradley.

On a number of occasions this year, Bradley has claimed that the media in Chicago is picking on him, called racism into question with the questions he's been asked, boycotted the media completely, and then patronized them.

Altercations with media members is nothing new for Bradley.

Now, Bradley has been sent home for the year. After calling Cubs fans out for not liking him, being surly with the media, and taking himself out of the lineup on a number of occasions, Bradley isn't wanted in Chicago any more.

But then again, an organization not wanting Bradley around for more than one year is nothing new for Bradley, either.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.