I can honestly say that when the Cubs signed Milton Bradley (I believe it was during January of 2009), I had never heard of him. I knew nothing about the history of personal problems which have been rehashed ubiquitously since then. Problems with umpires? I knew nothing. Problems with announcers? Ditto. Problems with anger management? Not on my radar.
I didn’t know Milton Bradley from the man in the moon.
I do not think that mental illness is a laughing matter. I don’t think mental illness is something to make fun of, or to joke about. I also don’t think mental illness is something to be overlooked in structuring a long term, multimillion dollar contract.
I was recently reminded of the time when the Cubs traded Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio. Ernie Broglio, a former multiyear 20 game winner with St. Louis, won less than 20 games total for the Cubs over the next 3 years.
Current reports are that Broglio, prior to the trade, had incurred an injury, a physical infirmity, which might have been identified during a physical exam, had such an exam occurred in conjunction with the trade.
Did the Cardinals know about the preexisting condition? I don’t know. Were they required to disclose the existence of any such condition? I don’t know. Did Ernie Broglio take it upon himself to mention it? I don’t know. Was he required to? I don’t know.
Back then, successful completion of a routine physical exam as a condition of the trade was not commonly required. Now, of course, I cannot imagine a player trade or a free agent signing NOT being contingent upon obtaining a clean bill of physical health.
So, maybe, in the aftermath of Mr. Bradley’s recent situation with the Chicago Cubs, ball clubs will require psychiatric/psychological testing prior to entering into agreements with free agents or with other teams. I expect the player’s union to oppose such a development on the grounds of player confidentiality or some such consideration. But the Cubs/Milton Bradley train wreck demonstrates that the time for universal psychological/psychiatric testing of major league ballplayers has arrived. For the good of the game.
At the very least, the industry standard might evolve to include a clause mandating that player contracts will be voided should a mental illness develop or should a mental disorder become evident during the life of the agreement.
Clearly, there is no upside to the Cubs/Bradley situation. It’s not good for the player. It’s not good for the team. It’s not good for Major League Baseball. It’s not good for the fans. It’s a bad situation. I hope the Chicago Cubs have learned their lesson.