Milton Bradley has his fans.
Anyway. This seems like a lot of fandom calories dedicated to a guy who has the reputation not just for sowing seeds, but planting entire crops of discontent wherever he lands. He played 216 games with the Dodgers, and that was the most he logged with any one team over a 12-year career. Easy to do if you're Jamey Wright. Harder to do when you lead the AL in OPS in 2008.
Well, to offer a slight understatement, Milton hasn't made best friends with everyone at every stop.
"You wonder what his problem is," one ex-teammate reportedly said.
Eric Wedge is personally aware of MB's uncuddly side.
There's plenty more along those lines. You don't need the whole resume. It's fun/maddening to remember he threw the ball in the stands after two outs against the Twins a couple years ago. Use that googly thing if you want more anecdotes.
Milton inspires a wide range of emotional reactions. It's not so hard, in the game of baseball, to become a villain, a laughingstock, or a feared offensive force. It's not so easy to pull all three off.
I'm not sure that the apparent trichotomy -- if it even exists -- comes from MB being somehow deranged, bipolar, manic depressive, although one of those may well be a real condition of his. Not a shrink here. Let me repeat: I'm not capable of telling if anything ails him, mentally. What I do know is that he treated the media like dogshit year after year after year, and he paid the price.
Milton Bradley spent his career losing the media game. Maybe he cared too much about what people thought of him; maybe he cared too little. Those are equally valid theories. What's not in dispute, though, is that he made it very, very easy for people who covered him to dislike him. The consequence: bad press. Simple cause and effect.
I don't know that individual reporters across the country deserved his disdain. Maybe they did. Speaking as a former sports reporter, journalists are just as capable of being jerks as the next guy. Humans!
Point is, you can treat the media like stinky stinky doo-doo if you're anonymous little me. Works less well if you're a public figure of any kind.
That being said, Milton earned some of the unflattering words printed about him.
An arrest for what might or might not be domestic violence (no charges were filed) doesn't make him any more endearing or defensible to those who would work to endear him to us or defend him in the court of public opinion.
But digging a little further, why should any of us rely on the impressions of any media member to form a judgment on a player's inner qualities and deficiencies? Why should any of us try to ascertain if a socially distant guy is someone we'd like, or wouldn't? And by socially distant, I don't mean reclusive. I mean, if we can't get to know our sports idols (and very few of us fans get to do so), then why should we act like we do?
Come to think of it, that explains why I can't stomach comments from people who purport to know the guy beyond the player. Get over yourselves.
To conclude with a non-conclusion, our lack of understanding of Milton, the man, is why Jeff's piece from Monday is so spot-on. He admits he bought a view obstructed ticket to Milton Bradley: The Show.
We all did.
P.S.: Read this Drayer piece. Great stuff: compassionate and straightforward.