I love Milton Bradley.
It started last April. When he was acquired by the Mariners the only Milton Bradley I knew was Milton Bradley: Clubhouse Cancer. By the first couple weeks of the 2010 season, however, we saw a different Bradley. This was one who flashed wicked smiles at the camera during interviews, tipped his cap when an opposing player made an impressive play, and pleased us by flipping off obnoxious Texas fans. Then May happened.
In early May Milton suddenly went away for a couple weeks. The reasons why weren't entirely clear then, and they are no clearer today. He returned on May 19th as the Mariners hosted the Blue Jays. I attended this game with my wife; we bought tickets in left field to cheer for and welcome Milton back. Unfortunately, being that we were playing Toronto, Safeco was swarmed by Canadians. For all the encouragement my wife and I tried to send Bradley's way, there were many more discouraging words being shouted by Jay fans. This led to escalated words between the Canadians and myself, before an usher escorted me away. I felt angry at Safeco's staff, but I felt worse for Milton Bradley. He did not deserve to have opposing fans yelling at him to kill himself. Not at Safeco, not in his first game back.
Milton performed poorly for the rest of May. He had an okay June by Mariners standards, but produced an awful .508 OPS in July before an injury shortened his season.
A history of being known as a malcontent? Poor numbers? An injury? Casual Seattle fans are notoriously passive, but if you want to rile them, give them a hometown player who fits those ingredients. Maybe that's why Milton's reception last weekend at Safeco was so negative. I was in the left field bleachers for last Saturday's game and was surprised at the vitriol being sent Bradley's way by local fans. He eventually put earplugs in, and fans even gave him hell for that.
And that's too much. When a Seattle ballplayer has to put earplugs in to block out the taunts by his own hometown fans, that's too damn much. And when local fans continue to yell at him? No. These are the same fans who go crazy for the hydro races, refuse to stand when Felix has two strikes on a batter and there's a runner on third, and can't name a Mariner who doesn't have a bobblehead. They have no business making fun of a player who has tried as hard as Milton Bradley has to get along with Seattle fans, and I can no longer abide their cruel display.
I therefore propose Monday to be Milton Bradley Appreciation Day. The Mariners return to Safeco Monday night to play the Detroit Tigers. Considering the recent poor attendance numbers for Mariner games, and the fact that the Tigers (God bless 'em) likely won't draw many Detroit fans to the ballpark, and it seems probable that we could have most of the left field bleachers to ourselves. The Mariners are even having a promotion that evening in which View Reserved tickets are only $10, which may entice cost-conscious fans that do attend to head for the 300 section rather than the bleachers.
Buy tickets for sections 181-182 in the left field bleachers. Make a Milton Bradley sign and bring it along. Do you have a Bradley jersey or T-shirt? Wear it. Not only will it be a sign of support for him, but it will help identify you to other LLers. Let's get together for an evening at Safeco to watch our team and cheer loudly for a great Mariner.
Will you be there?