I stand by what I wrote about Bradley the other day at the bottom of Sherm’s post. Which was basically to ask, what numbers can we expect from Bradley? Should he have been our (only) major free agent acquisition? And I realized in that post that, due largely to an inability to stay healthy (to stay far less healthy than “injury prone” Cubs like Soriano and Ramirez), his best Runs, HR’s, RBI numbers were equal to that of Mark DeRosa’s best numbers. My comments in some respects begged the question stats vs. production. The obvious answer is stats AND production, but a guy like Bradley clearly forces to pick one or the other. But that is a further topic for another time.
Now I’d like to talk about his baggage. I don’t remember the details of Bradley’s transgressions, tearing his knee up when “baited” by an ump. Hurling something at the base of the stands when upset by a fan? Going up to the broadcast booth to confront broadcasters he felt insulted him or his family?
We lived through the Dusty Baker years, the LaTroy Hawkins years, the Moises Alou years, the Kent Merker years, where I frankly thought the team was populated by selfish brats who I didn’t enjoy rooting for. So I really hope Bradley knows there is no place for that in Chicago. He says he does.
We all saw these Quotes:
“He’s not sullen. He’s not melancholy, a word Bradley said makes him think of storm clouds.
“That’s not me,” he said. “The thing people might not know about me is that I’m extremely shy. For me to start talking to people I don’t know at all, it’s uncomfortable. Usually, I’m pretty quiet in the beginning until I feel people out. Then my personality starts to come out.
“Bottom line is, I’m as serious as a heart attack about baseball and winning. My last goal in life, my bucket list, is winning a World Series, and that’s it. I don’t care about personal accolades, fame. I don’t need any of that. Money is great because my family is taken care of, but the only thing that’s going to make me happy is winning.””
“Yes, I’ve made mistakes. Yes, I haven’t handled things properly in the past. I was immature, I was childish. That’s how I reacted. My self-defense mechanism was to lash out. Maybe it’s my own insecurity.”
Bradley says he can handle situations better now. Bottom line, he just wants to play and be judged like everyone else. Source
I don’t know how many baseball players I would like to sit around and talk to. Mostly they’ve not graduated from college, they’ve largely not attended college, they sit around for hours at a time dreaming up exotic wet willies and chewing gum tricks. Immaturity is a word you can associate with them, but not a word you are likely to hear come out of their mouths. Certainly not in reference to themselves and their own transgressions. So when Bradley says, “Yes, I’ve made mistakes. Yes, I haven’t handled things properly in the past. I was immature, I was childish. That’s how I reacted. My self-defense mechanism was to lash out. Maybe it’s my own insecurity.” I find myself willing to listen.
So in that same artical when he says , “The thing people might not know about me is that I’m extremely shy. For me to start talking to people I don’t know at all, it’s uncomfortable. Usually, I’m pretty quiet in the beginning until I feel people out. Then my personality starts to come out.” I am drawn to that and think, here is a person given to self reflection, not a useful trait for athlete’s but a vital one for human beings, and he might stand out from his peers as a person that I’d like to talk to. Who knows.?.
In that list of players we’ve lived through above, the player Bradley most reminds me of is LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins was a seemingly personable guy , a family guy, who found himself in a role he wasn’t suited for (closer) and felt cornered and trapped by Chicago media/fan scrutiny (which is a nice word for obsessive criticism). And couldn’t handle it. Bradley comes in as our free agent savior, a role his production suggests he will not be, so like Hawkins, he will be cast out of position. How will he respond? Here is a nice possibility from Muskat’s article: “It’s vital for me to be on the field — more than even being productive,” he said. “If I’m out there, I know that’s going to happen anyway. I just have to be out there, and I will.” Source
And here are some that are not so nice (along with some ones blogetary):
“Well, you can get a healthy guy to go out there and play 162 games, but he won’t do what I did in 120.”
As crudely self-serving as that sounds, Bradley is mostly right. His numbers last season were All-Star quality.
But that shouldn’t excuse the fact that Bradley was prone to sporadically calling in sick, including missing 10 of 11 games in early August as the Rangers lapsed from wild-card contenders to pretenders.
Plus, at the same time when Bradley was randomly removing himself from lineups, Michael Young was playing nearly every day despite having broken fingers on both hands.
Young never complained about Milton. That’s not Michael’s style. But his teammates certainly noticed.
When asked about that Sunday, Bradley gave an unsettling answer.
“If I’m being paid, and I’ve got the commitment to me that I give to them, you make more of an effort to be out there every day,” he said. Source
Both of Bradley’s quotes above and the summary of his time in Texas contradict his quotes about maturity. Maturity is not about needing to be constantly reaffirmed about how important you are. I know because I am immature, am I writing all right?
I’m not. My first failed novel is called, “The Second Excuse.” It refers to something I learned as a Bear fan–that it is the second excuse that reveals the lie. “I can’t go out with you tonight because my parents are in town, AND I have to go to work in the morning.” You realize your first excuse doesn’t cover it, so you pile on other ones hoping to build a predominance of evidence. Maybe your parents are in town, maybe you do have to work tomorrow, but you can’t go out with me because you don’t want to. As a detective clue it is about as informative as knowing that usually an unattributed source is quoted directly in the same article. But I was reminded of my failed novel when I read this, “Milton Bradley did not report to the ballpark Wednesday. He has the flu, and his wife is in labor.” Source
I think we’d all agree that a laboring wife is reason enough to not show up to the ballpark, but doesn’t The Second Excuse make this feel like: I’m not showing up, cause I don’t want to.?. I am not taking a stand against Bradley. I have no idea what this year will hold, who could? He seems like a partially thoughtful introspective guy. I get mad and do stupid things, so what aspersions can I cast? But there are serious enough questions to ask if Trader Jim did his due diligence for Cub Fans this winter, that make me ask, This it? This is enough?