"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: milton bradley

Oh Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Here is a thoughtful piece on Milton Bradley by Eric Nusbaum over at the new-look Pitchers and Poets:

Vintage Bradley is patient, collected, and dangerous. His swing is compact in the legs and the hips, and from both sides of the plate an aesthetic pleasure. His arms lash across the zone with smooth and level grace. He gets on base like a professional, never seeming dissatisfied with a walk. Once upon a time, he was a decent enough outfielder too. But not even the glimpses of effectiveness reveal Bradley to be a superstar. Instead they reveal him to be simply above average – a good ballplayer, a pleasure to watch, but hardly a superstar, hardly exciting, hardly excitable.

But of course he is excitable. He is practically a caricature at times. He loses his temper during games. He tore his ACL while arguing with an umpire. He broke a bat over his knee (why is this a magnificent achievement of brutal strength for Bo Jackson but a pathetic sign of anger and weakness for Milton Bradley?). I once saw him empty the entire contents of a bag of baseballs onto the field at Dodger Stadium, then fling ball after ball into center field in what appeared to be complete obliviousness to his surroundings. From where I was sitting, I could see whites in his eyes. They boiled.

What’s the right way to understand a player who swirls in so many self-imposed narratives, a player who requires so much? The trait that defines Milton Bradley, the one trait that sets him apart, even from the other smart and vulnerable and self-aware players, is that he demands to be taken seriously as a human being first and a ballplayer second. The earnest statements, the tearful pledges, the tremor in his voice during post-game interviews, the on-field incidents, the off-field arrests: they all reinforce the same subconscious drive to be appreciated or understood or at the very least accepted.

Also, check out this follow-up–Is Derek Jeter more like Mantle or DiMaggio?

The Game of Life

Milton Bradley has such a fun name… why’s he have to keep ruining it by doing lousy things?

The latest incident – in which Bradley was arrested yesterday on felony charges for threatening an “unidentified woman” – is still firmly in the “alleged” category. No details have leaked out yet as to what precisely he’s charged with, beyond that, let alone evidence of anything. But it’s going to be an uphill battle for the public to keep an open mind, since half his Wikipedia page is taken up with “Controversies.” And that list isn’t even comprehensive – it does not  include, for example, a prior domestic violence allegation (although that  never led to an arrest, and in a separate incident Bradley was the one who called the police on his wife; the police were called to his home three times in a 33-day span). U.S.S. Mariner has a more detailed rundown of Bradley’s troubles over the years. The fact that he’s still in the majors and being paid $11,000,000 a year is a testament to both Bradley’s talent and the Cubs’ poor judgment.

The Mariners, who work with a number of Seattle women’s charities, were lauded in the past for their “zero-telerance” policy on domestic violence – which, as demonstrated by the mess of the Josh Leuke incident, turned out to be, really, more of a guideline. It will be interesting to see what action, if any, they take with Bradley when more facts are known. And although this is premature, it’s interesting to think about what we believe they should do.

It’s a complicated issue. As long as someone is legally free to work, after all, a team has a right to hire them. I appreciate that the Mariners care enough about domestic violence to draw up a policy against it… but with an issue that so often comes with conflicting information, changing stories and inconclusive evidence, it’s not simple to enforce. And if you’re not going to enforce it, what’s the point of having it – except as a PR tactic with a high chance of backfiring?

Of course, there’s a difference between finding yourself in a moral muddle and – as appears to have happened with Leuke – deciding that your farm system is more important than your ethical system. The former is understandable and maybe, with this kind of situation, unavoidable. The latter is pathetic.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver