Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm Milton Bradley, And You're Not

     Spring training is here, and Milton Bradley is not. Thank heaven.
     The Bradley era was a brief but eventful one in Cubs history, to be filed under the heading “Hendry, Jim: Worst Mistake of Career.” After back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008 failed to produce a single postseason victory, the Cubs’ general manager concluded that the club needed more “balance” offensively. So he traded the popular and productive Mark DeRosa, a righthanded hitter, and signed free-agent Bradley, a switch-hitter, for three years and $30 million. Bradley was never going to be the RBI man in the middle of the lineup that he was hired to be—his career high in that department was 77. In his one season with the Cubs, he managed 12 home runs, 40 RBIs, and a .257 average. He was paid a quarter of a million dollars for each RBI.
     Bradley’s first at-bat at Wrigley Field began with a standing ovation from the faithful and ended with him ejected from the game for disputing a called third strike. It was all downhill after that. As the season went along, Bradley alienated almost everyone he came in contact with, including his teammates, coaches, and manager. He suggested, among other things, that Cubs fans were racists, that umpires were out to destroy him, and, strangely, that restaurant waiters in Chicago were “bad-mouthing” him. Having finally had enough, Hendry suspended Bradley in mid-September for the remainder of the season. Upon hearing the news, the rest of the Cubs players applauded.

“I knew when I left the restaurant that night that he was our guy.”
--Jim Hendry, Cubs general manager, describing a dinner meeting with Milton Bradley in November 2008

“I believe in blessings, and I consider myself the most blessed man on the face of the Earth today.”
--Milton Bradley, upon signing with Cubs, January 8, 2009

“I've been in this league a long time. It didn't matter what he was about to say—because when Milton gets that crazy look in his eyes, that means it's time to send him to the showers.”
--Larry Vanover, umpire, explaining why he ejected Bradley from the latter’s first game as a Cub in Wrigley Field, April 16, 2009

“I've never made a mistake like that in my life. Sue me.”
--Milton Bradley, after catching a fly ball and tossing the ball into the stands—even though it was only the second out of the inning, June 12, 2009

“You’re not a ballplayer; you’re a piece of shit.”
--Lou Piniella, Cubs manager, speaking to Bradley, June 26, 2009

“I just pray the game is [only] nine innings so I can be out there the least amount of time possible and go home.”
--Milton Bradley, August 26, 2009

“You can understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment.”
--Milton Bradley, Sept. 19, 2009

“Sometimes you just have to look in the mirror and realize that maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself.”
--Ryan Dempster, Cubs pitcher, discussing Bradley

“Obviously it didn’t work.”
--Jim Hendry, referring to his signing of Bradley, Dec. 18, 2009

Reprinted from Quotable Cubs
To be published in Spring 2011
(c)2010, 2011 by Bristol & Lynden Press

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