During the offsseason, after he mad the blotter (again), I wrote an article suggesting that the Seattle Mariners and Major League Baseball may finally have had enough of controversial outfielder/DH/general nuisance Milton Bradley.
Well it only took 35 games for the Seattle Mariners to become totally convinced of that sentiment and mercifully eat the final ¾ of Milt’s $13 million contract for this season alone, designating Milton for assignment – or in other words throwing him just like a salmon at Pike Place Market–which is appropriate, seeing as how the smell there is a breath of fresh air compared to Milt’s personality.
In the past seven days, I have watched a grand total of five minutes of Mariners baseball in real time and managed to see Milton get ejected twice – the final act being manager Eric Wedge grabbing the back of Bradley’s teal jersey right between the ‘1’ and the ‘5’.
The saddest part is Milton is still only third star for Goon of the week, finishing behind Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum.
In a brief statement, Seattle club president Jack Zduriencik announced…‘We determined he’s not part of our future and not part of our present…’
Translated – They already gave Milton 19 chances, he was not going to get 20. And the organization finally decided that even with the ridiculous contract the Chicago Cubs inked a couple seasons back, his actions were no longer condoned. The only good news for Bradley is that by being inactive the rest of this season he won’t have to face any more fines from MLB or his team.
The Cubs were not the only team to blindly look at Bradley’s on-field potential over his attitude and behavior. Before the 2006 season the Oakland Athletics traded for Bradley from the Los Angeles Dodgers for a then-prospect named Andre Ethier. A Bay Area scribe reportedly mused at the time ‘At least Ethier’s OPS will never be .911′, a reference to Bradley’s off-field escapades.
Actually, Ethier needs a slump right now for his OPS to get back to .911.
Conventional wisdom says this is the end of the line for Bradley. After finally napalming bridges through eight organizations (not counting the Royals, who backed out of a potential trade in 2007) Milton is fresh out of MLB franchises to wear out his welcome. Next stop ought to be the Long Island Ducks, where Jose Offerman set the bar pretty high in regards to losing his cool a few years back. The sSad thing is Milton is very capable of clearing that bar.
Considering Bradley’s ‘present and future’ in Major League Baseball are bleak, let’s take a look at the past, and the rubble of Milt’s career. Here are the top-ten Milton Moments over his 12 year MLB career.
10. THE $4 WATER BOTTLE
In 2004 the Los Angeles Dodgers were clinging to a slim lead in the National League West, and they eventually did win the division crown but no thanks to Milton. After committing an error at a game in Dodger Stadium, a fan threw a water bottle in Bradley’s direction, with Milt responding by yelling at the fan and then slamming the bottle into the first row. Bradley was suspended for the remainder of that season, with Milton vowing to get help saying ‘Getting upset has caused me to hurt family, hurt friends, hurt my team, hurt fans’.
9. DOWN ON THE FARM
Coming up through the Expos farm system, Bradley was already honing his reputation, triggering a 1999 bench-clearing incident that earned him a seven-game suspension. In separate incidents that same year, Bradley allegedly spat gum at one umpire and poked the mask of another.
8. THE RENT COMES DUE
Not long after checking out from the Chicago Cubs, Bradley then allegedly went deadbeat on his landlord over his pad overlooking the Magnificent Mile, and ended up being sued for $44,000 in back rent. And you thought Jay Cutler quit on the town.
7. THE FINGER
By 2010, Bradley had plenty of ‘homecomings’ with fans in his previous cities wanting to get on him even more than typical fans on the road. One such incident resulted in Bradley flipping the bird during a game in Arlington, with the glory of HD broadcasting catching the offending gesture.
6. THE TV ANNOUNCER
Virtually every opposing TV and radio commentator makes reference to Milton’s volatile history to their audiences. During a game in which he was the DH in 2008, Bradley listened in on the Kansas City Royals television feed, where PBP man Ryan LeFebvre suggested that Milt take a cue from Rangers teammate Josh Hamilton and turn over a new leaf. That set off Bradley, who started climbing up flights of stairs towards the press box before being restrained.
It only makes me wonder what Milt may have considered doing if he ever heard Vin Scully describe some obscure detail about his rough childhood during a game??
5. IT’S ONLY THE EXHIBITION SEASON
By 2010, it was clearer than ever that MLB umpires had a vendetta against Bradley and were giving him zero rope whatsoever. An example was Bradley being ejected twice from spring training games; in one instance this happened after he just threw off his gloves and dropped his bat at home plate, thinking he was the third out when it was only the second.
Then-manager Don Wakamatsu suggested at the time that MLB umps were on a ‘witch hunt’ in regards to Bradley. He was at least partially right, but Bradley had also made his own bed by that point.
4. MILT V. LOU
Did anyone think that this would be a marriage that would last forever?? Or at least one month?? Milt’s stormy one season with the Cubs wound up with him finishing a season suspended yet again and with manager Lou Piniella allegedly calling him a ‘piece of sh*t’ in front of teammates in the clubhouse.
In newspaper interviews during the season Bradley said that he ‘prays’ that games last only nine innings and that it’s no wonder ‘they haven’t won in 100 years around here’. And I thought the culprits were the goat, the black cat, and Bartman.
3. MILT V. KENT
Not that Jeff Kent was ever accused of being warm and fuzzy during his career. This 2005 clubhouse confrontation occurred while Bradley was with the Dodgers. The aftermath saw ugly racial accusations made between the two.
2. BAG OF BASEBALLS
This incident that gave birth to the phrase ‘Meltdown Bradley’.
After arguing with the umpire in a previous at-bat the ended with him getting a base hit, Bradley is ejected by the HP umpire. The ensuing scene of Milton throwing an entire bag of baseballs onto the field remains a lasting image to this day.
1. THE ACL – Trevor Hoffman gets most of the blame for the San Diego Padres not making the 2007 post-season, and deservedly so, failing to close out games 161 or 163, either of which would had nailed down the National League Wild Card. But things would had likely been different if Bradley had not sustained a torn ACL selfishly trying to get at ump Mike Winters in a bizarre confrontation at first base.
Winters was also very much at fault and suspended from the post-season by MLB. Winters allegedly told Bradley more or less to ‘shut up’ and play the game. But that does not absolve Bradley. Had he kept his cool and focus the Padres would had likely sealed the WC before Game 163. What was forgotten was San Diego’s offense was actually on all cylinders when Milt was healthy and in the lineup during the stretch drive.
So there it is. There are many others (comparing himself to Kayne West, walking out on games in progress, numerous scrapes with the media, etc. etc. etc.) that did not make the final cut.
No one has ever accused Bradley of being stupid. He’s said to have had a 3.7 GPA in high school, a 1120 SAT score, and kicks ass in scrabble. Actually, there used to be another guy like that; his name was Albert Belle.
I do have one final wish for Milt’s career however. A return trip to Chicago, on the South Side this time.
Uncle Milt and Ozzie Guillen, the ultimate reality show.
It isn’t like Ozzie’s season could possibly get any worse.