In Milton Bradley’s Defense…
I’m going to start this article by saying that I don’t condone some of the comments Milton Bradley has said towards the Cubs or Cubs fans.
However, he does have a point with some of the things he has done and said. He’s already been ejected from two spring training games, showing that he either has a real problem, or the umpires do have a much shorter leash with him. I won’t go as far as saying they “have it out” for Bradley, but it’s pretty clear that he gets the short end of the stick sometimes.
Last season he was suspended for touching an umpire. The bill of his batting helmet barely grazed the bill of the umpires hat, which was only evident when the video was played in slow motion. We are talking about the effect of a fly landing on the umpire landing Bradley a suspension. There are a lot of guys that the umpire wouldn’t have even thought about reporting for that “offense.” In one of Bradley’s most famous run-ins with fans, he was playing for the Dodgers and confronted a fan about throwing objects on the field. He slammed whatever the object was on the ground at the fan’s feet and told them to not throw stuff on the field. In my opinion, he had every right to do that. He didn’t assault a fan, he just told them not to assault him or his fellow players. No fan, anywhere, has a right to throw debris onto the field (visiting home run balls not withstanding).
In Chicago, Bradley was always going to be the center of controversy, whether he actually provoked it or not. He came in with a notorious past and the fans and media just assumed he would have an incident. It was a self fulfilling prophecy, in my opinion. Bradley came, the fans expected a blow up and the media obliged by pushing him until he had one. Answering questions every day about your effects on the clubhouse atmosphere and why the team isn’t as good as it was last year has to take its toll.
I don’t condone his calling the Cubs and Chicago negative, but I understand it. The Second City can be one of the most welcoming places if you’re loved, but if you’re hated it can be downright dangerous. Receiving threats of violence and racist letters in the mail is unacceptable, and is beneath Cubs fans.
Bradley is obviously no saint, but he’s far from the evil monster that many Cubs fans want him to be.