I am Glad the Rays passed on the Milton Bradley Game
When the news hit the Internet sites that the Chicago Cubs had seen enough of the explosive verbal game playing by Milton Bradley, the disgruntled outfielder, not the gamesman, the beseiged franchise actually was giving the Tampa Bay Rays a bold High five of confidence without even knowing it. Think about this for a moment, Bradley had come into Tampa Bay several times during the 2008 off season looking for a deal to DH for this team, and the Rays at some point, might have been heavily salivating before turning their sights towards a more calm scenario by selecting ex-Phillie Pat Burrell.
In what was considered a huge signing for the Cubs for 3-years and $30 million, might have actually been a push-to-the-side by the Rays because of something their top brass,scouts, West Indies voodoo doctors or even their psychic friends network connections might have witnessed in the aging and sometimes volcanic Bradley. I can now say without a hint of remorse, this non-signing might be the biggest vote of fan confidence I can give the Rays front office since Stu and the crew have taken over. It was a visual dismissal of maybe again going through the notions of purging team demons and shows they want to utterly dismiss all things negative to their brand of baseball.
Bradley unfortunately would have come to the Rays with a van full of baggage, and maybe the Rays saw beyond the unfield contributions to the possible PR disaster that prevailed amongst the assembled stacks of steamer trunks and carry on bags to see that the stable environment of the 2008 Rays clubhouse might not be able to endure a extroverted maniac like Bradley and not implode upon itself. And for that, I applaud the Rays 3rd Floor gurus.
It must have been so tempting to take a chance on a guy who had the highest OPS in the American League last season with the Rangers. For that would be a huge upgrade in possible offensive outbursts for the team, but maybe the unpredictable outbursts of another nature put a huge red stop sign in their eye sights before extending an olive branch or contract to Bradley. But you have to wonder why the Texas team did not come out openly and entice teams to take on Bradley? Why were their not teammates and former coaches anxious to voice approval or even dismay over a team taking a pass on this guy?
Could there have been a non verbal sign to other teams to take a step back and take a through psychological imprint of their team and see if one crazy piece would turn them spiraling towards the division cellar. Of course the Cubs seemed to have been the best scenario for Bradley. He was going to a team on the verge, and who had a high profile stickler for individual responsibility in their present Manager, Lou Piniella. It seemed like Piniella would be the perfect man to rein in Bradley when he went a bit, well ‘psycho”.
But this is not your older brother Piniella, his fight is still there, but has been dampened by the years. Not that the cooling properties of Aquafina had taken the fight out of him, but time had worn him down a bit, and he was not the same guy now. And that might have been a huge factor in Bradley even getting beyond just the ranting and raving stage. Piniella might have let him dig his own grave, and in retrospect, it might have taken his Cubs team down in the process.
Negative energy in a clubhouse can ruin even a bright sunny day in Wrigley Field. My grandmother had a saying, “It only take one grumpy soul to turn a room of bright sunshine smiling people into a solemn, miserable lot”. Bradley might have done his worst damage to those arounf him, and not to just his own career. And because of that, Bradley was a Category 5 Hurricane stuffed into a small wooden box. You knew he was going to get out of that well made box, but you hoped to contain the damage to a small area, then retract him again within the confines a bigger wooden or steel box to calm down and again become more human.
But why didn’t the Cubs see this internal fire and demon storm churing out of control themselves? The signs were all around them, but they chose or either ignore them or look the other way and just overly insure themselves. Did the Rays have a body language professional or a psycho analyst hidden in on the teams discussions with Bradley and they watched him closely for signs of anxiousness, volitile moments, or even a sense of uneasiness sitting in that big leather chair? Maybe it was just a simple gut reaction or feeling that doomed the “Bradley Experiment” from ever darkening the Rays clubhouse doors.
What could have been the determinating factor that pushed him out of the Rays mindset and onto the Cubs? Whatever that pencil thin item or viewpoint was, thank goodness we saw it before we got pen to paper and had him sign with the Rays and be witness in our front row seat to his emotional and mential implosion in front of our very eyes. Believe me, if he had come here and treated the Rays rightfield fans the way he scolded and admonished his Cubbie faithful, then I pity the franchise when the would read the venom I would have spewed amongst this page.
Maybe it was something as simple as a bad handshake. You know the type, felt more like a wet fish getting slapped into the palm of your hand than a powerhitter looking for a job. Maybe he didn’t look the Rays in the eyes while talking to them,or maybe he got a tad upset because there was no half and half for the coffee? Whatever it was, thank goodness we did not have to endure,speculate or even experience the enduring nightmare the Cub fans and his teammates have seen in the last few months. It is said to see a talent waste away in the petty and obsurd innder world they create for themselves.
But also in this case, it is a bed he set, made and purchased all his own. Right now he might be his own worst enemy and is catching up to imfamous Steve Bartman as a hated figure in Cubbie folklore. So Bradley has been sent home from playing the game he “supposibly” loves, but doesn’t respect anymore. Hopefully the loss of time from his favorite game, and the revenue it creates for him will shake his fragile foundation and he can again find a neutralizing center for which to build upon. If not, a team desperate for a power hitter will bite again on his services, but that squad might have a contract laden with out clauses in case his act again surfaces and starts to divide and conquer another team.
Milton Bradley has given a lot to this game during his career. But it is what he has also taken and destroyed in it that will be remembered most by the fans of baseball. So the Rays dodged a huge bullet by instead staying with the coll, calm demeanor of Burrell in their DH spot. Burrell is beginning to heat up a bit, but the volitile nature and the negative energy doesn’t flow from him like it does with every word from Bradleys mouth right now. Bradley can still repair his career and go on to do things that will make people forget this episode. But the Rays door will not be open to him, and for once, that is a good thing.