Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Life and Times of Milton Bradley

I've committed nearly 1,000 words to describing the life and times of Metta World Peace, or the baller formerly known as Ronald Artest. The reason? He crazy. He is absolutely, 100% batshit crazy. His now 10 year NBA career has been peppered with half-naked appearances on late-night talk shows, job applications to Circuit City with NBA Commish David Stern as a reference and a small altercation in Auburn Hills, Michigan. But even at the zenith of Metta's insanity, he never, ever came within the same stratosphere of craziness of one Milton Bradley.

Now if you don't know who Milton Bradley, his name is just as real as Metta World Peace, no matter how dubious your belief may be. Mr. Bradley is a former Major League Baseball player, whose career as an outfielder and designated hitter have spanned across stadiums in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Chicago and Seattle. To say his career has been star-crossed is an insult to the definition of a word usually reserved for men who have simply donned several uniforms or a spotty injury history. Bradley's time in the major leagues has been a series of incessant injuries, unbelievable outbursts, and quotes that I couldn't make up if Richard Pryor, Tina Fey and Larry David were my crew of writers. His escapades make Metta World Peace look like Keyon Dooling.

Milton, a former Dodger, only came back into my sphere of consciousness because of news of his arrest for spousal abuse and subsequent arrest within the last month. As I started reading about Bradley's latest brush with the law, I started to think back about his altercations over the years and knew that it was time for THE GREAT MAMBINO to present...the Life and Times of Milton Bradley.

April 15th, 1978: Milton's mother decides that it would be a good idea to name her son after her husband, Milton Bradley, Sr. This isn't an unfortunate case of a person being named Julia Roberts and then having the famous actress come to prominence during her adulthood. Milton Bradley, the board game creator, died in 1911. By 1978, when Milton was born, the Milton Bradley company was already one of the most successful toy makers in America, with hits like Chutes & Ladders, Concentration, Candyland and Twister. I am strongly of the belief that Mrs. Bradley sentencing her son to a life of teasing and ridicule created the base for instability and madness that led to this post.

2001: During his first full season with the Indians, Bradley becomes so inebriated at a restaurant that he is taken to a local hospital by emergency medical workers. I don't know what restaurant it was, but I'm really hoping it was a Denny's.

July 29th, 2003: Bradley, after arguing with umpire Bruce Froemming's third-strike call, was ejected from a game against the Oakland A's. In his argument with the umpire, Bradley contended that Froemming "didn't understand" the game and proceeded to throw his bat and helmet in Froemming's direction after he had been chucked. In his defense, Bradley said that "he already took the bat out of my hands; I was just giving it back to him". Still angry, Milton claimed that pitcher Mark Mulder wasn't called on more "than two balls in a row all night". Mark Mulder finished the season with a 15 wins and a 3.13 ERA, walking only 40 batters in 186 innings. Bruce Froemming, who Milton said "did not understand" the game of baseball, finished his 50-year career a few years later.

September 4th, 2003: After driving 52 mph in a 25 mph zone, Bradley drives away from the police officer after he had pulled him over. I mean, it was just so ridiculous that anyone would get pulled over for driving merely 2 times the speed limit. He was later sentenced to three days in jail for being an idiot.

April 3rd, 2004: In what seemed to be the last straw in a long line of offenses, Bradley was removed from an exhibition game by Indians manager Eric Wedge for not running out a routine pop-up. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers days later. He said being traded to his hometown Dodgers was the "best situation he could have possibly hoped for". His Dodgers career lasted less than a season and a half.

June 3rd, 2004: When some players disagree with an umpire's call, they will have a discussion voicing such qualms. Some men of slightly stronger temperament will perhaps voice such qualms with elevated tones or exaggerated facial expressions. Some men will even go so far as to toss their glove around in the dugout, or perhaps throw their cap down on the ground in front of the umpire's feet in protest. Mr. Bradley did all of those things, got ejected from the game and then came back on the field with a bag of balls and threw them all along the third base line. Better than a bat and his helmet.

September 28th, 2004: In response to him dropping a fly-ball on the previous play, a fan unjustly throws a water bottle at Bradley in right field. Bradley, despite his passiveness and ability to keep calm under all scenarios, somehow lost it and approached the fan shouting at the top of his lungs. After a heated "exchange" (actually, you can't have an exchange if only one person is talking), Bradley angrily throws the water bottle at the feet of the fan as several of his Dodger teammates and umpires pulled him away from the stands. He was suspended for the next 5 games, as the Dodgers clinched the NL West pennant on the second to last day of the season, despite the absence of one of their most productive hitters. Milton supposedly undergoes anger management therapy after the incident, which failed at pretty much every conceivable level.

Oddly enough, this wasn't even the worst fan-to-athlete exchange that year.

October 7th, 2004: Coming back to the Dodgers locker room after his suspension, Bradley suggests the press is guilty of being "unfair to him". This was not the first time that he made such a claim, nor would it be the last. This was also not the first time that his rant had much to do with the fact that he was a black man. It was however, the only time that he looked a black reporter in the eye and called him an "uncle tom".

December 13th, 2005: After a series of suspensions and a 2005 season where he only played in 75 games, Bradley is traded by the Dodgers to the Oakland Athletics along with Antonio Perez (who batted .102 for the rest of his major league career) for a young outfielder named Andre Ethier. Andre has gone on to 2 All-Star appearances, a silver-slugger award in 2009 and 854 games, all of which are with the Dodgers. Bradley has played in 508 games with 5 separate teams.

June 21st, 2007: After 3 separate DL stints for two separate injuries in 2 1/2 months of the 2007 season, Bradley was cut from the Oakland A's. In response to a question of "how he was feeling?" a few days before he was cut, Bradley responded with "I'm healthy and on the bench". I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

June 29th, 2007: Milton gets traded to the San Diego Padres from the A's. He nearly becomes a season-saver for the Pads, hitting .313 with 30 RBI in 42 games. Too bad he turned out to be a psychopath.

September 24th, 2007: In the throes of a pennant race with the Colorado Rockies, Milton gets into an altercation with umpire Mike Winters over a disputed call. Bradley, long known for his ability to summon George Brett for any snub ranging from an umpire's ruling to simple name calling, gets into a nearly physical altercation with Winters. Padres manager Bud Black, knowing the heights that Bradley's wrath could reach, tries to physically restrain him, wisely, from becoming the Incredible Hulk. With each moment, Bradley became more and more incensed, as Black struggled to contain the animal being born from Bradley's hilariously rising rage. As Black fought harder to restrain him, he and Bradley fell backwards, causing Milton to awkwardly land on his knee. Bradley ends up tearing his ACL and MCL, robbing San Diego of their most productive hitter at the time for the remainder of the season. The Padres would then go on to lose a tiebreaker game with the Colorado Rockies for the National League Wild Card playoff berth at the end of the one run.

December 10th, 2007: Despite a calamitous end of his 2007 campaign, the Texas Rangers sign Milton to a 1-year deal to play outfield and DH.

June 12th, 2008: In Kansas City after an 11-5 Texas victory, Bradley storms out of the Rangers' clubhouse and bounds up five flights to stairs to confront Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre. Bradley contended that Lefebvre was making unfair comments about him on-air, and in a tear-filled (seriously) tirade to his teammates said that he's "tired of people running him down". Milton later says that he just wanted to "talk to Lefebvre" about the unfair comments he was making, which approximately zero people believed.

January 9th, 2009: Bradley finishes his only year with the Texas Rangers with a .999 OPS, a .321 batting average and an All-Star berth. He parlays his year into a 3-year, $30 million dollar deal with the DH-less National League Cubs, despite the fact that he had averaged only 91 games a season up until that point and had played 2/3 of his 2008 games as a DH, not an outfielder.

December 19th, 2009: Bradley, in his first season in Chicago, suffers a 60+ point drop in his batting average and a .220 point drop in his OPS, despite playing nearly the same amount of games. He had become such a distraction to the Cubs that he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Silva, who had a 6-18 record with a 6.18 ERA in his Mariners career, not to mention nearly $24 million dollars left on his contract.

March 10th, 2010: Milton claims that hate mail, some of which that was based on his poor performance and some with racist tones, ended up in his locker in Chicago, without postmark. He insinuates that someone in the organization had sent it to him, giving a thinly veiled impression that the organization was discriminating him based on his race. Meanwhile, African-American first baseman Derrek Lee and Dominican third baseman Aramis Ramirez both made comments in the press that they'd like to finish their careers with the Cubs.

March 25th, 2010: Less than a month into Spring Training for the Mariners, Bradley gets ejected from 2 exhibition games the first three weeks of meeting his new teammates. He goes on to proclaim that he is the "Kanye West" or "Ron Artest" of baseball, in that everything he does is taken negatively, and everyone is out to portray him as a bad guy, no matter what the circumstance. Yes, Milton. How dare the media portray you as a bad guy. Certainly the ONE THOUSAND WORDS before these could not indict you on such a charge.

May 9th, 2011: After two ejections in his previous six games and a .209 batting average over 101 games in 1 1/2 seasons, Bradley was cut by the Seattle Mariners, who gladly ate the remainder of his $30 million dollar deal to remove this cancer 2 team + league.

September 29th, 2011: Bradley was arrested under the suspicion of domestic abuse at his Los Angeles home. When I read this article, I thought that ol' Milton had gone off the rails again and maybe slapped around his wife, threw a water bottle at her or maybe even a bag of baseballs. It turns out he allegedly SWUNG A BASEBALL BAT AT HER. Unbelievably, this is entirely believable.

In a way, the comparison to Metta World Peace isn't fair. Though he's had his share of offenses, ranging from punishable in a court of law to simply quirky, World Peace has been a durable NBA player whose skills have many times outshined his questionable mental stability and limitless amount of personality. He is loveable in many ways, and has somehow clawed his way back to being a respected philanthropist and champion. Bradley has proven to be a brittle performer whose lack of mental fortitude have held back a career that could have been one of the best in the game. He is not a winner. Metta is. I only have room in my life for one African-American psychopath athlete. Thank God it's not Milton Bradley.

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