[Pictured L-R: Cub GM Jim Hendry asking Milton Bradley to return the hat and jersey by Monday.]
The Cubs closed their season against the Cardinals Sunday night in Stl with a 6-3 win, but started the day with news of Milton Bradley’s season-ending suspension for public comments. After pulling himself from the line-up on Saturday an hour before game time with a sore knee, Bradley and Bruce Miles of the Chicago Daily Herald had the following exchange:
Bradley claimed to have no opinion on where he bats – “In the lineup,” he said of his preferred spot – and the only time he became expansive at all was when he was asked if he had enjoyed his first season in Chicago.
“Not really,” he said. “It’s just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment. There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. Everything is just bashing you. You got out there and you play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it. It’s just negativity.
“And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative. It’s what it is.”
Asked whether he was talking about the fans, the media or even the Cubs organization, he replied: “It’s everything. It’s everybody.”
Whatever caused that tantrum, it was matched by a harangue of insincere grandstanding from Jim Hendry who said the following to Cub beat reporter Carrie Muskat:
“There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year,” Hendry said Sunday, “but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you. I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully. Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs. I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel.
“The only real negativity here is his own production.”
True, Bradley’s claim to work harder than anyone else is petty. The Tribune also points to other reasons for suspending Bradley, in that his contract makes him cheaper to dump by 8 million in his third season if he’s not healthy (and one wonders if that includes his suspension heavy past). But, really, Jim, it’s all in his head, even after a local columnist labelled him a “nutbag?” I started this season ranting about the media sandbagging of Milton Bradley in which journalists (and Steven Rosenbloom) jumped on the signing of MB as a major mistake. Why was it a mistake? They argued that Wrigley fans were some of the most obnoxious in baseball and some of its most vocally racist. The debate was over how Bradley could deal with them, not IF Cub fans were racist or IF they were well known louts. I don’t recall Hendry outraged about the holiness of Cub fans then. My own thought, then and now, was that Hendry and Cub management should be tossing racist/idiot fans out of the park and that Bradley shouldn’t have to keep his mouth shut about it. 2009 ends as it began regarding Milton Bradley, with Cub management and the Chi sporting press wishing he’d just make their job easier and shut up.
I’m no apologist for his season. Bradley being right about Wrigley fans and the press doesn’t win games. He thinks he worked harder than anyone else? Well, he’s had crazier years with better numbers. 2009 ends with him hitting .257 with 12 HRs and 40 RBIs. It doesn’t change the ugliness at Wrigley or Jim Hendry’s grandstanding, but it makes clear that the Cubs are certainly not going to change any of that for him or anyone else. The Cubs obnoxious fan base wins again. Milton Bradley and every Cub should keep in mind that the first statue built outside Wrigley was for Harry Caray, not Ernie Banks.
Carrie Muskat found several Cubs who offered a much more sincere version of the ups and downs of playing with Bradley here, altho there seems to be some willful denial on Ryan Dempster’s part about the careers of Dusty Baker, LaTroy Hawkins, and Jacques Jones at Wrigley “ or the fact that Torii Hunter has made public his no-trade clause to Wrigely because of racist fans:
“It’s unfortunate,” Dempster said. “I think everybody’s going to want to point fingers in different directions and try to put the blame somewhere on what the reasons are and all different things.
“At the end of the day, he was provided a great opportunity to come over here and be a part of a really great organization with a lot of really good guys, and it just didn’t seem to make him happy, anything. Maybe this is a little bit of a wakeup call for him and he can realize how good a gig we have ….
“It became one of those things,” Dempster said, “where you see him putting the blame on everybody else, and sometimes you have to look in the mirror and realize that maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself and wanting to be there and wanting to play every day and wanting to have some fun. It didn’t seem like he wanted to have very much fun, even from Spring Training.”