Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Milton Bradley

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In the News

It's been quite some time when I didn't have graduate school  to worry about all the time. Hopefully, I will be able to provide more commentary on things going on in the Cub world. One segment that I wanted to start was, In the News. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far way (Arkansas), I was a sports writer for four years. I'm drawn to the media, because I was so heavily involved with writing and newspapers. Well, now that I'm just a teacher, and somewhat of a career student, it will be easier to produce a little more regular content other than the Gameday stuff, which gets boring somewhat.



Today in the News:
Headline: Milton Bradley arrested in L.A.
Quote from story:

Police in Los Angeles have arrested Seattle Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley for allegedly making threats against a woman, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Bradley, 32, was taken into custody at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday and was taken to the Van Nuys, Calif., jail, where he was booked for suspicion of making criminal threats, a Los Angeles Police Department officer told the Times.

Reaction:

Sadly this comes with little surprise with many of the Cubs fans here at this site and probably Ranger, A's, Indians, Dodgers and Padre fans either. Bradley is troubled, and probably should have stayed in Texas where he played well a couple years ago. Crazy just looks better in Texas. Come on, their Manager kept his job after getting busted for cocaine. Bradley's antics, until now, were never close to that. Well, other than that TV announcer thing, but that guy had it coming. In all seriousness, I hope Bradley can find peace one day, because that's just no way to go through life.

Headline: Cubs Sign Marshall to two-year deal, while agreeing to terms with Tom Gorzelanny.

Quote from story:

Gorzelanny, who will take a physical exam Wednesday in Washington, received $2.1 million, a raise from the $800,000 he made with the Cubs last year.If Gorzelanny passes the physical, the two teams will make official a deal that will send the left-hander to the Nationals for three minor-league prospects. Washington would then pay the pitcher's salary.

Garza, whom the Cubs obtained in a trade with Tampa Bay earlier this month, agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.95 million, up from the $$3.35 million he made last year.Marshall, who has a home in the north suburbs, gets a two-year contract worth $4.7 million. He'll earn $1.6 million this year and $3.1 million in 2012.

Reaction:

Wait a minute here. Didn't the Cubs trade Gorzellany yesterday or the day before? I guess that trade is not quite done. One or two things are holding it up. First, it is possible that the Nationals forgot they were trading for the lefty and found a way to back out of the deal once they realized the Cubs would have to release him before the start of the season. So, why give up three guys. Bruce Miles did have a nugget saying that Tom would take his physical today.

One last thing:

Does anybody have any good references to help the understanding of advanced metrics for baseball? I dabble in some of them, but I didn't know if there was a good site that really breaks each one of them down. I would like to to start using more of those figures in my analysis on this site, and I wanted a good starting off point. Please leave any comments about this in the comments section.

A tale of two hitters -- revisited

Editor's Note: This article was originally written way back on January 8th of this year.  In light of Andre Dawson's admission into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, we thought it might be appropriate to republish it -- especially since we know that about half of you don't read the blogs every day in the winter time, and could have missed it

A Tale of Two Hitters
As he stood before the throng of reporters and flashing cameras, Andre Dawson said something yesterday that I'd never known about him.  He spoke of his mother, who died in 2006.

From the article: She would have been 71, but she died in May 2006.

"I just wanted to thank her," Dawson said Thursday. "I went to her grave site. I prayed and thanked her for the job she did as a mother, father and big sister to me. She probably was my best friend."

Dawson was born in 1954 to Mattie Brown, then a single, 16-year-old girl who, along with his grandmother, went on to raise him into the person he is today.  Probably no baseball fan truly knows the player he's cheering (or booing), and I certainly wasn't aware of that part of the Hawk's story.  But what I do know about him is this: he was a cherished man in Chicago, a consummate professional admired by his teammates and worshiped by his fans.  It seems then that, like Dawson, we owe Mattie Brown a debt of gratitude.

Contrast that with Milton Bradley, who shares more than a few incidental similarities with Dawson.  According to Alan Schwartz of ESPN, Bradley was born in 1978 to Charlina Rector, who by then was already a single mother of four.  Bradley's father Milton Sr. -- whose name he passed onto his son while Rector was still unconscious from having given birth -- was a cocaine addict who'd left Rector several months previous.  Bradley's mother raised and tried to protect him from the world and from his abusive father, and like Dawson the circumstances of his birth directed him to become the person he is today.  Perhaps at home, away from the scrutinizing baseball fans who have heckled him, Bradley is a good husband and father -- i.e. everything his father wasn't -- but on the field he is an antagonistic, confrontational player despised by the fans and ambivalent to his teammates.

Dawson's grandmother -- who died before he reached the majors -- convinced him to go to university.  Bradley went into the draft straight from high school.  Both men were selected by the same team -- the Expos picked Dawson in the 11th round of the 1975 draft, Bradley was chosen in the 2nd round of the 1996 draft.  Dawson kept his nose down and excelled with a focus "that was never seen for somebody (his) age," (hence his nickname, "The Hawk"), Bradley grew to mistrust authority figures and was suspended multiple times for antics like poking umpires and spitting on them. 

By the time Dawson was 22 years old, he was playing in Montreal full-time.  He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1977, for having slugged 19 homeruns and batted .282 while stealing 21 bases.  Bradley struggled in his early years in Montreal, resulting in his first of many trades.  He was sent to the Indians at 23, and he didn't really start to light it up until 2003 when he batted .321 in 101 games played.

Eventually, the Hawk wore himself down in Montreal.  He spent a decade in the French-Canadian city, destroying his knees on the hard artificial turf even as he collected 6 Gold Gloves, 3 All Star appearances, and 2 runner-up MVP finishes.  Then, at the age of 32, in order to preserve his career, Dawson landed in Chicago for a pittance - a 1-year contract for $500,000.

Bradley, meanwhile, suffered a variety of leg injuries as well, although he more wore out his welcome than wore himself down.  After 2 full seasons in Cleveland -- which including incidents in which he was scolded by Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel for a lack of professionalism -- he finally exhausted the Indians' patience in the Spring Training of 2004 and was dealt to Los Angeles. 

He played there for two turbulent seasons -- which included even more tantrums and suspensions -- before being dealt to the Athletics.  Then Oakland designated him for assignment on July 21st, 2007, and the Padres picked him up.  With the Padres, Bradley provided a brief jolt to the San Diego offense before blowing out an ACL in the final week of the season while being restrained from confronting an umpire.  He then signed a one-year-deal with the Texas Rangers, where he reportedly informed the team late in the 2008 season that he'd be sitting out games so as to not risk injury and deflate his chances of receiving an impressive contract offer that winter.  Then, at the age of 31, Bradley landed in Chicago for an exorbitant sum of money -- $30 million for 3 years.

Dawson's time in Chicago was nothing short of glorious.  In his first year with the Cubs, the Hawk won the MVP award for a last place team while slugging 49 homeruns and driving in 137 RBI -- all for $500,000, a sum that would have insulted most stars.  He did it on two bad knees -- for which he'd have more than 20 operations on over the span of his life -- and without complaint.  As a result, the fans loved him.  They bowed to him in the outfield, chanting "Awesome Dawson" whenever he made an outstanding offensive or defensive play.  They wore his jersey.  They worshiped him.

At his Hall of Fame press conference, Dawson said this about Cub fans, and in light of recent seasons and recent accusations by various acquisitions, one can't help but wonder if his comments were directed at some people:

"I'll tell you, going to Wrigley Field, playing in the Friendly Confines amongst the Cubs fans, that was amazing in itself.

"That really rejuvenated my career, I think, and put me at a point in time where I was unsure about myself in the game, and how much longer I was going to stay in the game. The way the Cubs fan embraced me that first year pretty much propelled me on to win the National League MVP award and I owe that organization a lot for believing in me.

"They didn't really meet the demands initially, but I just felt that since I played in a media center, I played somewhere where the fans really took a hold and adored me, and made me really want to go out and want to be, not a crowd-pleaser, but to not embarrass them and just give it what they expect day-in and day-out."

Bradley's time in Chicago was nothing more than tumultuous.  He started out slowly and was booed for his effort -- or lack thereof.  In the first year of his contract (in which he'd signed with the expectation of delivering a run-producing bat in the middle of the order) Bradley batted .257 and hit 12 homeruns while driving in 40.  He described his experience with Cub fans as this:

"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. Everyone is just bashing you. You go out there and 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." 

It turns out, according to Bradley, that Cub fans are not welcoming.  They are not the loving group of fans that cheered for Andre Dawson two decades earlier.  They are instead racist:

"I'm talking about hatred, period. I'm talking about when I go to eat at a restaurant, I have to listen to the waiters bad-mouthing me at another table, sitting in a restaurant, that's what I'm talking about -- everything."

As a result of a season of confrontations, harsh words, and disrespectful actions, Bradley was suspended on September 20th by Jim Hendry and dealt to the Mariners in the off-season.  He wasn't even able to last a single year with the Cubs.

It's doubtful that they've ever met, but I wonder what Andre Dawson and Milton Bradley would make of each other if they did.  Would Bradley see in Dawson a sell-out, a man who submerged his well-justified rage in order to get along with people who couldn't possibly understand the past that drives him?  Would Dawson see in Bradley a lost cause, a talented athlete who was never able to overcome his greater demons despite the support of a loving wife and the love of a doting mother?

Whatever would happen, Cub fans have now experienced polar opposites.  We've had the talented hitting right fielder who played hurt and was a consummate professional, and we've seen the talented hitting right fielder who lived his life hurt and was consumed by his anger.  If possible, Bradley may have served in at least one positive role -- he's helped us remember and appreciate Dawson even more.

Mattie Brown has been dead for more than three years.  She never had the chance to see her son honored by the Hall of Fame, but she surely knew it was coming.  She raised her son right.  Charlina Rector probably did everything in her power to raise her son right, too.  Rather than condemning Rector for failing, let's instead praise Brown for succeeding.  It's never easy to be a single parent, whether you are 16 when your child is born as Brown was, or already a mother of four as Rector was.  For the unlikely success that he's had over the span of his life and baseball career, we should appreciate Dawson even more.  He was clearly deserving of our adoration, whether he was trying to be a crowd-pleaser or not.

Reader Blog: A question

With the Cubs and Mariners doing battle until 11:30 and an early morning World Cup game for the U.S., I have just one question in light of Lou Piniella returning to Seattle, where he managed for 10 years, and Milton Bradley being back in the same ballpark as the Cubs.

Who is having a worse year?

  • Lou Piniella

Piniella is the lame duck manager of a team eight games under .500. He usually looks like a homeless person. He answers "What else can I do?" in response to 90 percent of reporters' questions, and yelled at a reporter and at Steve Stone for suggesting he should play Colvin more, and then promised to play Colvin more each time. He was also roundly criticized for moving his highest-paid pitcher to the bullpen (a move I agreed with, but I doubt he takes much solace in that).

  • Milton Bradley

He's batting .214 with a .301 OBP. He's earning $11 million and yet is owned in just 3.6 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. He spent 13 days on the "restricted list" after admitting he's crazy. He has managed not only to make the Cubs' trade for oh-so-terrible Carlos Silva look good--he's made it look like one of the best trades they've ever made.

Last night's game was a perfect example of Lou and Milton's struggles--the Cubs lost with another meek performance while Bradley went 0-for-3.

Reader Blog: Cubs' 2009 castoffs: What are they doing now?

Milton Bradley
He's been slowed by a calf injury and, presumably, by the fact that he's certifiably insane. He's hitting .214 with two home runs and 12 RBI. He has a relatively poor .313 OBP. Oh, and he's mad again.

Aaron Miles
Miles disappointed the Cubs immensely in 2009, and did the same to the Reds in spring training. They designated him for assignment (i.e. released him) on April 5, and he signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals last Tuesday.

Reed Johnson
Jim Hendry let Johnson go in favor of free agent Xavier Nady. Johnson found a home with the Dodgers, and here's the comparison thus far:

Player-------AB-------Avg.------HR-----RBI-----OBP
Nady---------34-------.176----------1---------4-------.333
Johnson----48-------.271----------0--------4-------.286

So, basically, it's a big shoulder shrug of a move at this point. However, there's a $2.5 million difference in their salaries, so Nady needs to get it going to make Hendry's investment a good one.

Andres Blanco
He has only amassed 33 at-bats with the Rangers thus far--his slash line (average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) is an underwhelming .212/.278/.212.

Rich Harden
Rich Harden has been SO Rich Harden with the Rangers. He has not allowed more than four earned runs in any of his six starts this season, yet he's gone five innings or more just three times. His walk total in his first five starts: 5, 3, 6, 4, 5. Not good. He's had two pretty good starts in a row, however, including a dominant outing on Monday.

Aaron Heilman
You probably know what he's up to after having seen him pitch against the Cubs this weekend: six earned runs in just 10.2 innings on the season (5.06 ERA), plus five walks and two home runs.

Kevin Gregg
Gregg lost out on the closer role in spring training, but Jason Frasor's struggles have resulted in several save opportunities for him. He's 7-for-7 in those chances, has struck out 16 guys in 13 innings, and has a miniscule 0.69 ERA. Basically, he's been awesome. If we would have known he was going to do that, he would have fit real nicely in the eighth inning for the Cubs!

Read more of Brandon's work at his blog Wait 'til this Year!

Reader Blog: Hendry's Free Agent Signings

Lets start with the positives. Hendry signed two of our three best starting pitchers through free agency, and both have wildly exceeded our expectations. Terrible Ted Lilly has been worth 10 WAR since he began his Cubs career in 2007. For comparison's sake, Yovani Gallardo has only been worth 5.5 WAR over the same period of time. Ted has been very, very good.

Ryan Dempster has been even better. In the two seasons since he returned to the rotation, Dempster has been an ace. He's put up 8.7 WAR in that time period, and was able to accumulate 3.6 WAR last season even though he missed a month of the season with a broken toe. Since he joined the rotation, Ryan Dempster has been the Cubs best pitcher.

That's about the extent of the positives. Here are the negatives, in lazy list form: Alfonso Soriano @ 8 years, $136 million with a no trade clause. Kosuke Fukudome @ 4 years, $48 million with a no trade clause. Milton Bradley @ 3 years, $30 million. Jacque Jones @ 3 years, $15 million. Jason Marquis @ 3 years, $21 million. Bob Howry @ 3 years, $12 million. Aaron Miles @ 2 years, $5 million. John Grabow @ 2 years, $7 million. Etc.... These players have a ton in common. Most were coming off a career year. (Jones is a notable exception.) Most did not contribute enough WAR to justify their salaries. All were seemingly signed for too many years. The Cubs roster has been an elephant's graveyard of declining players being paid a ton of money for their past contributions to other teams.

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Most MLB team's have gotten smarter about keeping their young, high WAR players away from free agency. The majority of players who reach free agency are players that their original teams didn't deem worth extending, because their likely salaries would exceed their likely contributions. In short, free agency isn't a smart way to try and build a ballclub. Jim Hendry has spent a lot of money in free agency and usually hasn't gotten his money worth. The bad, long term contracts on this Cubs squad have hamstrung him in his efforts to improve the team going forward. The Cubs are older, maddeningly mediocre, and expensive. This team won't contend in 2010, and it won't contend in 2011 either. Because of his nasty habit of making it rain on every flavor of the week free agent who comes a knockin, Hendry should be fired.

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GROTA, drop us a line and let us know!  If you do a bang-up job, we'll
even promote your article to the front page of the site!

My take on the Milton Bradley situation

Douche Bag
Saying that Cub fans are racist implies that many sports fans aren't.  I am confident that Cubs fans are as racist as the fans of any other team in baseball, and I would bet money that Todd Hundley received mail that would have made Bradley's skin crawl. 

'nuff said.

A note to the fine people of Seattle, Washington

Dear Seattle,

First of all, congratulations on convincing a world racked with recession that extremely expensive coffee drinks are a necessity that we cannot live without.  That's a fine trick, right there.  But I didn't come here to talk java, but what I do need to talk about can result in elevated blood pressure.

I bet I have some sort of notion how relieved you must have felt when your new braintrust got rid of one of the most corpulent pitchers of all time, who is also a Wall Street level criminal, for as much as he's stealing.  Yes, he is completely worthless, but he also seems nearly harmless.  Maybe our braintrust will invent an injury for Silva the Hutt, or merely cut him and the remainder of his wookie-sized contract.  But, worst case, he takes up a spot on our roster, he gets run out there at the end of blowouts, and everyone has fun trying to guess what size uniform pants he's wearing this week.

On the other hand, many of you were excited about your return on the trade.  "We got SOMETHING back for Silva," many of you cried, "and he's an actual hitter and ballplayer!" 

Well, geez, less-see here.  I myself don't follow Mariners ball very closely.  I couldn't name five guys on your roster, in fact.  Perhaps you, similarly, don't follow Cubs baseball very closely, either.  I won't bore you with the details,

thank you Huffington PostHere's the synopsis: man finds trouble no matter where he goes.  Man joins Texas for one year, he plays well for a lousy team, and has a career year.  Man leads the AL in OPS.  But, for some reason, Texas does not attempt to keep man.  Man claims he has seen the error of his ways, and cites the need for financial security as the root of all his past evil.  The Cubs provide him with that financial security, and man expresses joy.  But man comes in and posts a 12 homer, 41 RBI year hitting in the middle of the order of a team who won 97 games the previous year.  Oh, and Texas?  Without man, has their best season in nearly a decade.

Now, having had a winter to think about it, the man blames Chicago, rather than, you know, himself, for his poor performance.  According to him, we are all racists in Chicago, and we made his life a living hell.  Because we have a long history of hating African Americans.  Such as Derrek Lee.  Michael Jordan.  Harold Baines. Ernie Banks.  Billy Williams.  Walter Payton.  Oprah Winfrey.  Barack Obama.  Thing is, that's the way it always has been with this man.  He has no inclination to take responsibility for anything in his life.  A true microcosm of the decline of America.

So, chances are, you will not succeed with this man.  In fact, God help you all if Milton Bradley gets off to a slow start.  Doesn't your part of the country lead the nation in suicide rate?  That's not a good place for him to be, I reckon.

Good luck in 2010.  Can't say I didn't warn ya.

2009 Recap: Milton Bradley

don't wake daddy

I don't think you really need me to say that Milton Bradley was a disappointment in 2009.  There is a person of my acquaintance who is afflicted with profound cerebal palsy.  Not a mild case, mind you.  He can breathe on his own, thank God, but that's where the good news ends for him.  He has a complete lack of control over all of his muscles and limbs, including his neck.  He cannot speak, and everything in his life must be done for him.  He has never lived a normal life - in fact, I am hard pressed to imagine a life that could be consider more abnormal than what this guy has.  Even HE knows Milton Bradley sucked in 2009.

In 2008, Bradley lead all American League human beings in OPS.  When Lou Piniella demanded we find some left-handed pop for right field, after the abortive 2008 playoffs, and a league leader in OPS was just sitting there, for the taking, the cautious observer will notice this is too good to be true.  I assume Hendry did think that, actually, but Bradley said all the right things, swore that all he needed in his life was some financial stability that a three year contract would provide. 

I have been out here the past six years talking about inertia; that there may not be a supernatural curse against us, but there is absolutely a psychological hump that 102 years of failure has built.  29 other teams looked at Milton Bradley and saw trouble.  But our GM saw opportunity, because after all, here is a switch-hitting league leader in OPS that has played right field, and since we haven't won a World Series in over a century, we have to take chances that other teams don't.  This is what the hump looks like. It brings an air of desperation that causes otherwise sane people to sign 30 year olds coming off of career years to interminably long contracts for stratospheric amounts of money.  Then do it again.  And again.  And again.

Yes, Messrs. Soriano, Zambrano, Fukudome, and Bradley.  I'm talking about you.

So, was Milton Bradley the reason why we did not win the Central last year?

On the field, safe to say that he did not lead the NL in OPS.  He didn't even lead the Cubs in OPS.  However, he was in the top 4, which is sad and pathetic in itself. 

But even those stats are hollow.  His average with RISP was miserable.  For as many at-bats as he had in the middle of the lineup, 40 RBI was terminal to our chances.  The "good ones", in important situations always seem to concentrate more, and perform as the situation calls for it.  Bradley has, for his entire career, been the antithesis of a situational player.  There has never been a stretch in his entire career where he "carried a team", the way DLee has, or Soriano, Aramis, or even Geo Soto did in 2008.  He has never been an "impact" player.

The league leading OPS in 2008 was a result of his plate discipline, which except for a couple of specific incidents last year, Bradley still maintained.  He was third on the team in OBP, he has always known how to take a walk.  But in the same vein that I accused DLee in 2007&2008, when he would take walks in the 3-hole when big hits were more called for, Bradley came up a number of times last year with the game on the line, and in my humble opinion, pussed out.

If you are 'the man', late in a close game, and there are two outs, open bases and runners in scoring position, and the hitters behind you in the lineup might consist of the 2009 Mike Fontenot, the 2009 Geo Soto, or the Andres Blanco or Koyie Hill of any year, if you are truly 'the man', then the situation calls for you to DRIVE IN RUNS.  So the pitcher throws you four balls. You take your walk, you trot down to first, wipe the sweat off of your brow and exhale in relief that you didn't screw things up. 

Now, the bases are loaded, and the 2009 Mike Fontenot or the 2009 Geo Soto either hits a pop fly, grounder, or strikes out.  Because that's what they do.  Because they suck.  They are not "the man".  You, Milton Bradley, are supposed to be "the man", but you took the easy way out, and left the heavy lifting to the people behind you in the lineup who are way less capable than you.

That's not winning baseball, folks.  That's not playing to win, that's playing not to lose.  That's stats padding, so at the end of the game, you can mollify yourself with a 1-2 with two walks, although the team lost 5-4. 

What's worse, as the season goes along, and you've used up what little goodwill you had in the game with your constant whining and bitching, the umpires quit giving you the close ball, choosing instead to ring your dumb ass up on a 3-2 pitch two inches outside of the strike zone.  Then you throw your helmet, make an ass of yourself, and just give the umps all the more reason to do it again to you tomorrow.

Throw in the fact that he is a miserable human being who blames everyone else within reach for his own problems, and this is why Milton Bradley is not a winner, never has been, never will be, and why all he was worth in a trade was for an expensive, enormous tub of gooey fat that will never throw a meaningful pitch for this franchise.

Should Hendry have known all this?  I mean, Bradley certainly had problems before, but I don't recall his having a hand in a complete collapse of a team in the past.  In the end, Hendry should have realized that Milton Bradley did not have the mental capacity to play ball in a place with as much pressure as the north side of Chicago.  When they write the article upon Hendry's departure, the lead sentence will include not only the Soriano signing, but the Bradley debacle.

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A Tale of two hitters

A Tale of Two Hitters
As he stood before the throng of reporters and flashing cameras, Andre Dawson said something yesterday that I'd never known about him.  He spoke of his mother, who died in 2006.

From the article: She would have been 71, but she died in May 2006.

"I just wanted to thank her," Dawson said Thursday. "I went to her grave site. I prayed and thanked her for the job she did as a mother, father and big sister to me. She probably was my best friend."

Dawson was born in 1954 to Mattie Brown, then a single, 16-year-old girl who, along with his grandmother, went on to raise him into the person he is today.  Probably no baseball fan truly knows the player he's cheering (or booing), and I certainly wasn't aware of that part of the Hawk's story.  But what I do know about him is this: he was a cherished man in Chicago, a consummate professional admired by his teammates and worshiped by his fans.  It seems then that, like Dawson, we owe Mattie Brown a debt of gratitude.

Contrast that with Milton Bradley, who shares more than a few incidental similarities with Dawson.  According to Alan Schwartz of ESPN, Bradley was born in 1978 to Charlina Rector, who by then was already a single mother of four.  Bradley's father Milton Sr. -- whose name he passed onto his son while Rector was still unconscious from having given birth -- was a cocaine addict who'd left Rector several months previous.  Bradley's mother raised and tried to protect him from the world and from his abusive father, and like Dawson the circumstances of his birth directed him to become the person he is today.  Perhaps at home, away from the scrutinizing baseball fans who have heckled him, Bradley is a good husband and father -- i.e. everything his father wasn't -- but on the field he is an antagonistic, confrontational player despised by the fans and ambivalent to his teammates.

Dawson's grandmother -- who died before he reached the majors -- convinced him to go to university.  Bradley went into the draft straight from high school.  Both men were selected by the same team -- the Expos picked Dawson in the 11th round of the 1975 draft, Bradley was chosen in the 2nd round of the 1996 draft.  Dawson kept his nose down and excelled with a focus "that was never seen for somebody (his) age," (hence his nickname, "The Hawk"), Bradley grew to mistrust authority figures and was suspended multiple times for antics like poking umpires and spitting on them. 

By the time Dawson was 22 years old, he was playing in Montreal full-time.  He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1977, for having slugged 19 homeruns and batted .282 while stealing 21 bases.  Bradley struggled in his early years in Montreal, resulting in his first of many trades.  He was sent to the Indians at 23, and he didn't really start to light it up until 2003 when he batted .321 in 101 games played.

Eventually, the Hawk wore himself down in Montreal.  He spent a decade in the French-Canadian city, destroying his knees on the hard artificial turf even as he collected 6 Gold Gloves, 3 All Star appearances, and 2 runner-up MVP finishes.  Then, at the age of 32, in order to preserve his career, Dawson landed in Chicago for a pittance - a 1-year contract for $500,000.

Bradley, meanwhile, suffered a variety of leg injuries as well, although he more wore out his welcome than wore himself down.  After 2 full seasons in Cleveland -- which including incidents in which he was scolded by Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel for a lack of professionalism -- he finally exhausted the Indians' patience in the Spring Training of 2004 and was dealt to Los Angeles. 

He played there for two turbulent seasons -- which included even more tantrums and suspensions -- before being dealt to the Athletics.  Then Oakland designated him for assignment on July 21st, 2007, and the Padres picked him up.  With the Padres, Bradley provided a brief jolt to the San Diego offense before blowing out an ACL in the final week of the season while being restrained from confronting an umpire.  He then signed a one-year-deal with the Texas Rangers, where he reportedly informed the team late in the 2008 season that he'd be sitting out games so as to not risk injury and deflate his chances of receiving an impressive contract offer that winter.  Then, at the age of 31, Bradley landed in Chicago for an exorbitant sum of money -- $30 million for 3 years.

Dawson's time in Chicago was nothing short of glorious.  In his first year with the Cubs, the Hawk won the MVP award for a last place team while slugging 49 homeruns and driving in 137 RBI -- all for $500,000, a sum that would have insulted most stars.  He did it on two bad knees -- for which he'd have more than 20 operations on over the span of his life -- and without complaint.  As a result, the fans loved him.  They bowed to him in the outfield, chanting "Awesome Dawson" whenever he made an outstanding offensive or defensive play.  They wore his jersey.  They worshiped him.

At his Hall of Fame press conference, Dawson said this about Cub fans, and in light of recent seasons and recent accusations by various acquisitions, one can't help but wonder if his comments were directed at some people:

"I'll tell you, going to Wrigley Field, playing in the Friendly Confines amongst the Cubs fans, that was amazing in itself.


"That really rejuvenated my career, I think, and put me at a point in time where I was unsure about myself in the game, and how much longer I was going to stay in the game. The way the Cubs fan embraced me that first year pretty much propelled me on to win the National League MVP award and I owe that organization a lot for believing in me.


"They didn't really meet the demands initially, but I just felt that since I played in a media center, I played somewhere where the fans really took a hold and adored me, and made me really want to go out and want to be, not a crowd-pleaser, but to not embarrass them and just give it what they expect day-in and day-out."


Bradley's time in Chicago was nothing more than tumultuous.  He started out slowly and was booed for his effort -- or lack thereof.  In the first year of his contract (in which he'd signed with the expectation of delivering a run-producing bat in the middle of the order) Bradley batted .257 and hit 12 homeruns while driving in 40.  He described his experience with Cub fans as this:

"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. Everyone is just bashing you. You go out there and 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." 

It turns out, according to Bradley, that Cub fans are not welcoming.  They are not the loving group of fans that cheered for Andre Dawson two decades earlier.  They are instead racist:

"I'm talking about hatred, period. I'm talking about when I go to eat at a restaurant, I have to listen to the waiters bad-mouthing me at another table, sitting in a restaurant, that's what I'm talking about -- everything."

As a result of a season of confrontations, harsh words, and disrespectful actions, Bradley was suspended on September 20th by Jim Hendry and dealt to the Mariners in the off-season.  He wasn't even able to last a single year with the Cubs.

It's doubtful that they've ever met, but I wonder what Andre Dawson and Milton Bradley would make of each other if they did.  Would Bradley see in Dawson a sell-out, a man who submerged his well-justified rage in order to get along with people who couldn't possibly understand the past which drives him?  Would Dawson see in Bradley a lost cause, a talented athlete who was never able to overcome his greater demons despite the support of a loving wife and the love of a doting mother? 

Whatever would happen, Cub fans have now experienced polar opposites.  We've had the talented hitting right fielder who played hurt and was a consummate professional, and we've seen the talented hitting right fielder who lived his life hurt and was consumed by his anger.  If possible, Bradley may have served in at least one positive role -- he's helped us remember and appreciate Dawson even more.

Mattie Brown has been dead for more than three years.  She never had the chance to see her son honored by the Hall of Fame, but she surely knew it was coming.  She raised her son right.  Charlina Rector probably did everything in her power to raise her son right, too.  Rather than condemning Rector for failing, let's instead praise Brown for succeeding.  It's never easy to be a single parent, whether you are 16 when your child is born as Brown was, or already a mother of four as Rector was.  For the unlikely success that he's had over the span of his life and baseball career, we should appreciate Dawson even more.  He was clearly deserving of our adoration, whether he was trying to be a crowd-pleaser or not.

What's Done is Done

Our long regional nightmare is over.  I have been waiting to write these words since Hendry suspended Don't Wake Daddy in September.

Milton Bradley has been traded, but the price was quite dear.

There have been discussions out here this year about the worst contract in the bigs.  Some said it's Barry Zito's, others Alf Soriano's.  Usually the guy that comes up with the Vernon Wells contract is declared the winner of the day.

But hell, at least all three of these guys had a decent year or two before they were given their horrendous deals.

Carlos Silva was given 4 years at $48 million coming off of a 13-14 year with an ERA near 5, one year removed from leading the majors in Home Runs Given Up.  Now, two years into his deal, with 5 wins, 18 losses, an ERA close to 7, and most of 2009 spent nursing owies, Carlos Silva is now a Cub.  And a quick glance out onto the Seattle papers and blogs?  Those people are dancing in the streets today.  They have had a bit to cheer about this off-season, after a few years of extreme mismanagement.  And now, they are hoisting up their new GM for canonization because he got rid of the Great Carlos Silva.

I say, those people are going to be missing Silva by July.

Do I think Silva is going to bounce back and become a sturdy innings-eater, or as Hendry will surely bend it, a reasonable substitute while Ted Lilly heals?  God No, do you really think I'm stupid???   But as I remember and as I search, I don't discern Silva having to be reprimanded, suspended, given up on, or adjusted to due to his aberrant behavior.  I don't recall hearing about him tearing up his knee whilst attacking an umpire.  I don't see anything about him wanting to beat up any of his announcers.  I don't believe he called his fans and his management racist. 

Some of our guys, like TJ Brown and Bad Kermit, and spinning around like tops because they'd rather have Bradley or Hitler rather than Silva.  And no, he isn't good, not by any means.  The money has been spent.  Bradley could not stay.  After he was suspended and all his dirty laundry aired out in the media, he could not possibly continue with us.  Hendry stuck the red hot poker up his own butt, and the rest of the league knew it.  If we weren't going to simply cut Bradley's dumb ass, we knew we were going to end up with someone who was useless and had a bad contract.

None of the names thrown around - Millwood, Burrell, Castillo, Vernon Wells - would help us in the least.  Silva might be the worst out of all of them.  But hey, at least he can sit around in the clubhouse, discuss Venezuelan politics with Big Z, and if he can't throw five innings without giving up eight hits, five walks and two dongs, then maybe he'll do the honorable thing, go on the 60-day, and since Mark Prior is out of the game, maybe Silva can take the league lead in simulated games.

At least we don't have the big smelly turd in the toilet bowl anymore.

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