Usually when a player is disciplined, either by Major League Baseball or by the player’s team, the player’s teammates tow the company line, but avoid making any comments that indicate they agree with the discipline. They say things like, “I understand the team’s decision, but I don’t agree with it. I hope we can get past it, and I really look forward to having [suspended player] back with the team.”
When the Chicago Cubs dismissed Milton Bradley for the rest of the season, his teammates spoke up. But none was in defense of Bradley.
Ryan Dempster said it was “unfortunate,” but that Bradley brought it on himself. Aramis Ramirez said Jim Hendry made the right call, and Derrek Lee called on Bradley to apologize for his actions.
“At the end of the day, he was provided a great opportunity to be part of a really great organization with a lot of really good guys,” Dempster said. “It just didn’t seem to make him happy- anything. Hopefully this is a little bit of a wake-up call for him and he’ll realize how good of a gig you have. It probably became one of those things where you start saying things that you’re putting the blame on everybody else.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to look in the mirror and realize that maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself and (not) wanting to be here and play every day, and (not) wanting to have some fun. It didn’t seem like he wanted to have some fun, even from spring training.
“Hopefully this is something that can be good for his career and good for him as a person.” Hardball.
The reacting didn’t end there.
“If you’re serious about wanting to continue your career- you don’t want to finish the season suspended,” [Derrek Lee] said. “My advice would be to talk to the people you need to talk to and maybe apologize if that’s what you need to do, or interpret what was going on for the situation that got you suspended.”
Lee called Bradley after Bradley got into a confrontation with Lou Piniella at the Cell and was sent home from a game in June. But he doesn’t expect to call him about the suspension.
“I had no problems with Milton personally,” he said. “If he called me, I’d answer the phone. This is a different situation. I would let him reach out to me on this one. He’s suspended for the season. There’s not much I can do to help him on that one. I think if he needed to talk, I’d talk to him.”
[Aramis] Ramirez was surprised, but defended Hendry for making the right decision.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Ramirez said. “I’ve never seen a GM suspend a player for something he’s been doing or something he said in the paper. But Jim (Hendry) has a point. if you don’t want to be here, send him home.”
…Reed Johnson, whom Bradley said gave him sound advice early in the season, appeared to have washed his hands of the outfielder. Johnson said it was a privilege to play at Wrigley Field, and most players understand that.
“You had guys like Eric Karros and Jason Kendall say if you play major league baseball over a long career, you should spend at least one year with the Chicago Cubs,” Johnson said. “All of us are really surprised that a player could come here and not have the time of his life…. In a way, I feel sorry for him. He can’t enjoy the same things the rest of us enjoy.”
Bradley told the Tribune in June he felt “isolated” in the clubhouse. Johnson, Dempster and others disputed that comment.
“From our standpoint, nobody was making an effort to isolate him from groups,” Johnson said. “For the most part, that was his choice.” (lots more at that link above; worth a look)
Not much support in there. Most other players would read that, reflect on their suspension, and realize that perhaps if you have a problem in five different cities in five years, the problem is you.
But as Milton Bradley has proved time and again, he is not most other players.