Despite Milton Bradley’s reputation as a troublemaker and a hothead, I have to give him credit for saying lots of the right kind of things in meeting with the Chicago media after his signing Thursday to a 3 year, $30M contract.
First, from this article:
“I didn’t call my mom and tell her because I wanted her to just find out from watching TV. But she called and left me a message. And I played it back several times. I could hear her voice cracking on the message.”
“My mom worked 35 years as a grocery clerk. Thirty-five years and was able to retire a few years back. Just a tremendous blessing.”
He uses the word “blessing” a lot:
“I’d like to take a little wordplay and switch up Lou Gehrig’s speech about being the luckiest man. I don’t believe in luck. I believe in blessings, and I consider myself the most blessed man on the face of the earth today. I’ve been through trials and tribulations and adversity. Standing here today, I’m pretty humbled.”
About his volatile past:
“The past,” he said. “If we could leave it there … I’ve seen a lot of cute headlines about me talking about everything. People that never met me speaking about me. I think it’s not very intelligent to speak about someone you’ve never met.”
And from this blog post, I like his approach to hitting:
“My focus at the plate is just try to get on base,” he said. “A lot of people say they try to get a hit. I’m just trying to get on base. I’m going to make the pitcher throw me three strikes. If I get the first one and it’s a good one and that’s what I want and I’m looking for it, then I’ll hit that one. For the most part, I’m going to make the pitcher work. I want to get a good strike to hit. If I swing at strikes, I’m going to be successful.”
About why he likes number 21:
“It’s a number they first gave me in rookie ball,” he said. “I just kind of stuck with it. You can’t wear 42 anymore (it’s retired in honor of Jackie Robinson). I always said that 21 is half of 42. If I can be half the player, half of the person, Jackie Robinson was, I’ll be a success. That’s my motto.”
I’m normally pretty tentative about bringing in players with baggage, but I have to admit, I like what I’m hearing from Milton Bradley.
And he led the entire American League in OBP (.436) and OPS (.999) in 2008. That’s a lot of O’s and P’s. He did this as a DH, though, and he’s had some injury history, so there is some concern about his ability to stay on the field as an everyday player. And even if he does, can he produce anywhere near those numbers?
As for being a hothead, time will tell. Maybe he brings a little bit of passion and intensity to the clubhouse, which is good. Every team — especially teams that plan to win championships — needs a player who isn’t afraid to call out players who are dogging it or otherwise hurting the team. And it can’t be a pitcher, like Carlos Zambrano, who is definitely a hothead, probably too much of one. The Cubs seem to need a little more leadership and intensity, and maybe Bradley can supply that.
Or, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Who knows? People acquire reputations; some are deserved, some aren’t. But even for those that are deserved, people can change, especially when given the right combo of teammates, manager, fan base, and media treatment. You just never know how a new teammate is going to work out.