Thursday, March 5, 2009

Misunderstood Milton

Milton Bradley returned to action yesterday and, as far as we know, managed to get through three at-bats as the designated hitter without hurting himself. On a day when the Cubs lose two games, you have to take whatever small victories there are.

The occasion gave both major Chicago newspapers a chance to run their own versions of basically the same story about how Bradley has been misunderstood in his career.

According to the piece in the Chicago Tribune by Paul Sullivan, Bradley likened himself to Paul O'Neill, formerly of the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds.

I understand he has some spinning to do about his checkered past. He understandably would like to move on from past indiscretions, but he does not really seem to have a grasp on how disruptive he has been with his past incidents. He dismisses his past behavior as, "Childish and immature" rather than "violent and volatile":

"The way they made out things I've done in the past … I haven't done anything malicious or violent," he said. "If anything, it was more childish and immature, my actions. … I'm not violent or volatile or all this stuff I hear. Intense? I have a lot of pride and integrity. I expect more out of myself than probably other people do."

Just call it like you see it. I haven't really done those things. [The media] have a tendency to use the same words to describe me over the years—sullen, melancholy. … That's not me."

He goes on to say:

"People tell me Paul O'Neill was hustling, he was intense, he was fiery, a competitor," he said. "Whereas, early on in my career, I was [labeled as] volatile, angry, temperamental … [that] I had an attitude, was not coachable. … Everything that's pretty much the antithesis of what I am.

The problem is that while Paul O'Neill was known to throw some Gatorade coolers, bats, helmets, and other paraphernalia around after a bad play, his anger was directed mostly at himself. That is true childish and immature behavior. I can say that for sure, because I have been known to toss a number of items around softball fields, volleyball courts, and bowling alleys while cursing up a storm about what an idiot I am for taking a called third strike, spiking a ball into the net, or leaving a seven-ten split. There is nothing mature about it, as I am reminded quite often by friends and family.

From what I have read, Paul O'Neill never went after a fan, stalked out a broadcaster, or got into a race war with his teammates. I'm sure he had numerous run-ins with umpires, but to the best of my knowledge, he never blew out his knee in the course of being restrained from physically fighting an umpire. (For the record, I have never done any of those things either.)

Milton Bradley is guilty of all of those transgressions that go above and beyond the tossing of some equipment around a field or dugout in the heat of competition. Those actions do suggest a person has some violent and volatile tendencies.

Now, from what we have seen so far, Bradley is on his best behavior. Its possible that he has learned from his past rage issues and taken a more zen approach to his anger management. But in discussing how he and Lou Piniella are similar as well, he said:

"He wants his players to play with the same intensity and fire he was showing when he was tossing a base or getting in an umpire's face, because he means business.

''I understand that. I can respect that. I think they're crazy when they can just struggle and make errors and strike out and give up runs, and then they go get on their cell phone and kick back like nothing ever happened. I can't live like that.''

So he has no intentions of dialing down his "intensity and fire" which I fear is interminably tied to the outbursts of rage that he has little to no control over. He doesn't seem to see a difference between smashing an inanimate object and hunting down a broadcaster who was critical of him.

I'm guessing the fireworks will not be limited to just the South Side this summer. The question is whether they are an entertaining diversion or if they blow up the entire Cubs' season.


Unknown said...

Hehehehe. I can still see the Cubs hat flying across the gym. LOL

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