Friday, April 23, 2010
By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
Milton Bradley is easily one of the most polarizing players in Chicago sports history. And by polarizing, I mean most Cubs fans either hate him or really hate him.
If you have a conversation with Milton, like I did in the Mariners dugout before Friday's game, 98 was cordial, engaging, insightful. But what has dogged Bradley throughout his career is a brain cell buried in the back of his mind that produces the leftover 2, which happened to come out again.
It all started when I asked Bradley about his time here in Chicago. Below is part of the conversation that followed:
CG: Do you feel as if you were misrepresented by the media, players, teammates, fans?
MB: As a black man playing this game..the majority of the media is middle-aged white guys. So, I don't think you can accurately construe what I have to say or portray me as who I am because you don't know. You don't know where I come from, no one's asked those questions. They just see what they see. I never carried a gun, I never hurt anybody. But, I'm made out to be somebody I'm not. I'm a nerd. I graduated with a 3.7 GPA in high school, I got an 1120 on my SAT. I play Scrabble on my phone in the bullpen with (Seattle pitcher) Shawn Kelly. That's stuff people don't know. I'm as non-violent and non-threatening as they come.
CG: So I guess I'm one of the people because I'm a middle-age white person?
MB: Well, I mean it is what it is. In the NBA, the majority of the players are African-American and the majority of the media is Caucasian. That's just what it is, I'm not saying anything that's not true.
CG: Yeah, but I don't think it has to be a confrontational relationship.
MB: No, its not confrontational. If you can say I'm gonna give this guy a chance, give him an interview and if you keep sticking your hand in that fire and keep getting burned, you are not going to stick your hand in there anymore.
CG: I'm trying to really understand what you are saying here.
MB: Like I said, when I signed with Chicago, the first thing they put in the paper was from 2004 when I threw a bag of balls with the Dodgers. It wasn't me in 2008 standing on the field with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as an All-Star leading the American League in OPS. They took something negative and there's always going to be a negative. Unless I hit .400 or we go to the World Series it's always going to be Milton Bradley's fault. And one man don't make a baseball team.
CG: You dont think it would have happened if it was a white person who had done that?
MB: Has it happened?
CG: I think it has. Sure. Roger Clemens.
MB: Roger Clemens never played for the Cubs. Name someone from Chicago besides Latroy Hawkins or Jacque Jones or Corey Patterson or Milton Bradley thats gotten destroyed by the media.
CG: I just thought about Lou Piniella. He gets a negative reaction.
MB: When things are good, its because of Lou. When things are bad, its always someone elses fault.
CG: Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, they took a lot of heat.
MB: They didnt take any heat. Jim Hendry took the heat for throwing them too much.
CG: Nahh, I dont know about that.
MB: They didnt take any heat. Kerry Wood is loved in Chicago. Mark Prior is loved in Chicago.
CG: But when they had a bad season, I think it went the other way, no?
MB: No, youre stretching now. Youre reaching. Thats what you guys do. Im just telling it like it is. I dont care if you dont like it. You dont have to like it. I dont like what I see or what I read or what I hear. The world aint gonna change.
CG: But you have to admit that when you had a good game, it was told that you had a good game.
MB: I didnt read it.
CG: So you cant say that if you only heard about the bad stuff that its all bad.
MB: People arent going to come to me and say, Oh, you had a good game yesterday. They come to me and say, They said this, this, and this about you.
CG: Well, maybe thats just life.
MB: I dont know. I never had a problem anywhere else.
And one post-script from our conversation. After getting released by the Cubs on September 19, Bradley said he went home and tuned out baseball, choosing instead to focus on his family, friends, and fantasy football team. He was in the Cubs fantasy football league, and guess who won the championship?
He says hes still waiting to receive his winnings.
Watch the complete interview above!
If you haven't gotten enough Milton, here's a positive story I tried to do with him last season about the greatest hit of his baseball career.
The one problem, Milton didn't want to do it.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.