Bradley: 'I'm Made Out to Be Someone I'm Not'

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Bradley: 'I'm Made Out to Be Someone I'm Not'

Friday, April 23, 2010
7:10 PM

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?

Milton.

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.

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Adam Engel stepped into the batter’s box for his first major league at-bat in May armed with a batting stance that, to say the least, wasn’t conventional. 

Engel’s hands were pushed far away from his body and were level with his head. His bat pointed straight up in the air, and his right (back) arm was raised above his left (front) one. On first glance, you had to wonder — how can that be comfortable? 

“That’s something that I probably wouldn’t coach a little kid to do,” Engel said. 

But there was a well-thought-out method to Engel’s stance. He used the word “tension” in describing what he was trying to avoid by thrusting his hands high and away from his body. And as White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson noted, nobody does anything well when they’re tight. 

“The closer I get my hands to my body, I tend to grab the bat a little harder, which causes a chain reaction I don’t want,” Engel said. “As long as my hands get to where I want them before I start swinging, that’s the goal.”

Since arriving in the majors two months ago, though, Engel has lowered his hands and dropped his back elbow. Here’s the difference in his stances between his first career hit (May 27) and his first career home run (June 25)

And almost a month later, Engel's gradually brought his hands lower:

For a rookie, tinkering with hand placement can be hazardous. But Engel’s batting stance has been a work in progress for a while now, as evidenced by what it was back in spring training of 2016:

Even during spring training in 2017, Engel’s stance was closer to what it was in 2016 than what it was when he made his major league debut:

But here’s the point Steverson made about all those tweaks and changes: As long as it helps Engel get the barrel of his bat to the point of contact, who cares how it looks before the swing?

“At the point of contact, 99.9 percent of every hitter looks the same,” Steverson said. “… How you get it done is based upon timing and your inner functions. But can I get it to here on time is what it’s all about. There’s many myriad ways of doing that. You’re not going to teach somebody to do that because there’s not their functions. 

“… You got guys (in basketball) taking free throws different — did it go in the bucket or did it not go in the bucket? It’s kind of the same way with hitting. Can I get the barrel to the point of contact or can I not get the barrel to the point. And that’s the end of the story.”

The 25-year-old Engel is still trying to find his way through his first major league season, hitting .233 with a .317 on-base percentage and a below-average .650 OPS.  But he’s had some sporadic positive results, like his four-hit game against the Minnesota Twins June 22. 

There’s a fine line between finding a batting stance and hand placement that you’re comfortable with and tinkering too much, especially for a player as green as Engel. But he’ll continue to put in the work trying to find something that will yield consistent success — and that may mean another batting stance that sticks out. 

“it’s just pregame work, watch a lot of video on the starter before the games and then try to work all my work pregame, batting practice, swings in the cage, try to have a mindset that I’m going to have in the game,” Engel said. “Work on the mindset, and then when I step in the box, it’s as close to practice as it can be.” 

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

First came the roar from the home crowd. Then a bunch of fans in the first deck beyond third base stood to watch Yoan Moncada. The patient approach surfaced next.

Moncada made his White Sox debut on Wednesday night and although it didn’t feature any highlight reel moments, there were plenty of good signs. Moncada drew a walk in his first plate appearance and also lined out hard to center field in his last. The rookie second baseman went 0-for-2 as the White Sox lost 9-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was fun to watch him come in,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I saw him in Triple-A for a while, he’s a great talent. It’s good to have some good defense. That first at-bat was obviously really good. Fought it back to 3-2, got that walk. Two good swings.”

“It was cool. It got very loud when he came up to the plate, as we expected. That was fun to watch.”

The hype and energy surrounding the arrival of baseball’s top prospect was easy to detect.

The amount of media members on hand to document Moncada’s first game was akin to an Opening Day crowd. Every camera was aimed on Moncada, who flew in from Rochester, N.Y. earlier in the day to join the White Sox.

News of Moncada’s promotion at 11 p.m. Tuesday boosted the announced crowd of 24,907 by 5,000 fans, according to the team. Fans arrived early, some in Moncada White Sox No. 10 jerseys direct from China, while others brought Twinkies, the second baseman’s favorite snack food. Moncada spotted some of those bearing the sugary snacks when he stepped out of the home dugout and onto the field about 45 minutes before first pitch. Moncada, a former teammate of Jose Abreu’s in Cuba, received a loud ovation as he started to stretch.

“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

The rumble was even louder when Moncada stepped in for his first Major League plate appearance since he played for the Boston Red Sox last September. Though he quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, Moncada never wavered. He took several closes pitches, fouled off two more, and drew a nine-pitch walk.

“He had some nice at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously worked a walk. Hit two balls well. He looked very comfortable. Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada’s second trip resulted in a groundout to first base. He fell behind 0-2 once again before working the count even. Moncada then ripped an 88-mph from Maeda down the right-field line only to have it go foul by several feet before grounding out on the next pitch.

Moncada got ahead 2-0 in the count in his final plate appearance as he faced reliever Ross Strippling. He produced an easy, fluid swing on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a 93-mph fastball for a line drive but it found the glove of center fielder Joc Pederson. The ball exited Moncada’s bat at 102.5 mph, which normally results in a hit 62.5 percent of the time, according to baseballsavant.com.

“I felt good,” Moncada said. “I think that I executed my plan. I didn't get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan.”

“I made my debut last year but this one was special, it had kind of the same feeling for me.”