Early yesterday, it was very easy to laugh at the travails of Milton Bradley and the eternally hopeful Seattle Mariner fans.
Bradley, who is plodding through another disappointing season on the field, was 0-3 with two strikeouts on Tuesday when he decided it was time to pull a Bradley. According to reports, Bradley began jawing at the home plate umpire from the bench, and, when he was told by Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu to stop, Bradley decided instead to leave. That’s right, he simply left the ballpark. In the sixth inning.
But by late in the day, the laughter became more uncomfortable, with a spiteful edge (I’m not saying I stopped laughing). That’s when it was reported that Bradley had set up a meeting with Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik to tell them simply, “I need help.”
Bradley reportedly told the two that he had seen this moment coming for a long time, and that his personal issues were interfering with his performance. It is unknown how long he’ll be out of the Seattle lineup or what kind of help he’ll be getting, but Milton is right: it was a long time coming.
As Cubs fans, we likely experience a series of reactions. First, we see this as a defense of the city of Chicago and the fans of the Chicago Cubs. Ultimately, the problem for Milton Bradley was not Chicago. The problem for Milton Bradley – as it has always been – was Milton Bradley.
There is some measure of validation in seeing Bradley disintegrate in Seattle just as spectacularly as he did in Chicago. There is some measure of schadenfreude.
Any perverse joy we feel in seeing him fail in the way only Bradley can fail is tempered by the reminder that this is simply a troubled, troubled guy. He didn’t come to Chicago to screw the Cubs. He didn’t sign a $30 million deal to inconvenience you. I have no doubt that he bought his changed-man persona just as we did.
I don’t know Milton Bradley. I know only the slices of him that he allows me to see publicly – but those slices suggest a man who needs help. So, to his credit, he’s now allowing himself to see that he needs help.
I guess we just wish he’d seen it before he came to the Cubs. Heck, I wish Jim Hendry had seen it, too.