According to the Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, after the Seattle Mariners played their worst defensive game of the season Mariners slugger Milton Bradley was no where to be found (at least by the media) in the Mariner’s clubhouse little did he and the other media members know that Bradley actually left the stadium after the sixth inning of the game against the Rays after a brief confrontation with his Mariner Manager Don Wakamatsu. Wakamatsu clearly was seeing tell tale signs of Bradleys mental and emotional deteriorating state right after Bradley returned to the bench after his second trip at the plate and immediately Wakamatsu decided “go another direction” for the rest of the game. But unknown to Rays fans viewing the game on television, Bradley had begun a constant barrage of comments and accusations towards Home Plate Umpire Kerwin Danley. Bradley felt Danley was expanding the strike zone a bit too much vertically for Rays starter James Shields.
Bradley instantly took it upon himself upon his return to the M’s bench after striking out with the bases loaded, to unleash a verbal battle with Danley from the Mariners bench. Bradley violent fuse might have been compounded by Wakamutsu refusing to become a part of this venomous verbal barrage towards Danley. Bradley quickly escalated his vocal bards towards Danley until a dazed and confused Bradley finally mentally deteriorated to a point where he fumed he was ” packing my stuff, I am out of here.”
Maybe the trigger moment for this behavior came during Bradleys second trip to the plate that night. Bradley seemed in a daze as he watched that third called strike all the way from Shield’s hand to Rays catcher Dioner Navarro’s glove without a hint of swinging at the ball.But we can only guess what has been building up in Bradleys frustrated mind during the first month of the M’s disappointing start to the 2010 season, and with the M’s currently compounding the frustrations with odd defensive miscues, Bradley might have simply given up inside himself at that moment last night.
But what is at the forefront of all of this is the fact that Wakamatsu had replaced Bradley with recently called-up outfielder Ryan Langerhan before Bradley even began to berate and badger Danley and then uttered he was leaving. Subsequently the Mariner’s Manager had done the right thing considering the quickly deteriorating mental attitude of his Leftfielder, who could of taken that mental state to the outfield with him and compounded the problem with an interaction with the fans.
Wakamatsu quickly used his managerial hook and replaced Bradley for both the betterment of the team and Bradley at that point in the ballgame. According to people within the Mariner’s clubhouse, Bradley became instantly upset with the decision adding on to his fury at Danley, and he instantly became vocal about being pulled in the game after the sixth inning, for a “defensive replacement”.
But the reality of the whole situation is that Bradley was probably not pulled just for the fact he stood there staring at Shield’s pitch down the heart of the plate without a swing. Especially in a baseball game that was still close, and when even a 4-run lead by the Rays at that point is not a safe margin in Safeco Field. The first warning sign of impending Bradley disaster might have been right after Bradley came back to the dugout after his first strikeout of the night and he flung his Seattle batting helmet at the ground and it bounced up violently before coming to rest near the dugout.
But Bradley did not stop there as other batting equipment was tossed when Bradley finally entered the M’s dugout, and was a sure signal of Bradley’s internal combustible frustration. Bottom line, Bradley was not in a mood, or a positive position to hold a meaningful and articulate conversation at that tense moment with everyone on the Seattle bench weighing the considerable boiling emotions churning within Bradley.
But when Wakamatsu was asked post game about Bradleys absence in the clubhouse, Bradley’s Manager’s silence might have spoke volumes to the assembled media corps. When Wakamatsu did not have idea or a comment to the media, it truly sent a signal of detachment by both parties in even discussing the events in a civil manner at this time.
Could Bradley have “exited, stage right” to keep from fuming or bring this episode to an instant boil when he showed his frustrations and violence to his own batting gear then learning Langerhan was taking his spot in the top of the seventh inning? Could this one action by Wakamatsu set in motion the turbulence within Bradley to begun the cycle of a total mental implosion by the volatile outfielder?
The Mariners insist that Wakamatsu had replaced Bradley before the all too surreal scene began to play out within the Mariners dugout and clubhouse. At this moment it is unclear as to the extent of any actions or reactions from both sides prior to Bradley leaving after Wakamatsu expressed his stark opinion to Bradley to cease antagonizing the Umpires following Bradley direct barrage on Danley.
This is also a Seattle team that has been mired recently with a bit of a confidence problem, and this latest episode by Bradley will only throw more kerosene on the fire until something can be done to restore some good vibes within the team.
Bradley was brought into the Seattle Mariners fold this off season with the hopes that calmer veteran teammates like Ken Griffey Junior and Mike Sweeney might be able to nurture and massage the volatile Bradley and give him a more calming and soothing veteran sounding board for his outbursts before exploding and escalating into verbal or temper tantrums with fans or the Umpires.
There must be an immediate meeting between Wakamatsu and the Seattle Front Office with Bradley to either hash out this particular incident, or form the beginning of a “parting of the waves” might be in order for both sides to heal from this situation. Bradley could either be suspended or disciplined for his outburst, or the team might make it instantly known throughout the MLB that Bradley is a trade piece right now .
But if Bradley’s baseball talents outweigh his emotional outbursts, then a viable solution or resolution should be made to make both parties again respect themselves and their mission this season. And maybe that is the key to this situation.
In the past teams have discarded him as quickly as possible without finding a common ground or instituting financial penalties or discipline for Bradley. Maybe he is just acting out as a form of releasing his stress and tension and has not been instructed or advised of more positive ways to reduce or eliminate these pressures in the past.
Bradley will not be the first, nor will he be the last Major League Baseball player who has let an “on-the-field” situation internally destroy him during the course of a season, and possibly destroy the rest of his career. But you really regret seeing his baseball talent and his game-changing abilities get consumed by Bradley’s frantic and volatile actions that continue to ruin what could be a highly productive and fulfilling career. We have seen videos of players meltdown before, and even totally get physically sick from the outpouring of mental and emotion toxic materials within them.
Seattle is a pretty laid-back place in comparison to some of Bradle’s stops on his MLB career. And hopefully the locale will help mellow and entice Bradley to remain cohesive with his Seattle teammates and serenity will in the future, rule one day for Bradley. It is either that or we all will have to be ready to witness one of the most intense explosion since Mount St Helen’s in the Pacific Northwest when Bradley finally hits his breaking and boiling point. Hopefully, this will not happen during the next two Rays and Mariners games because I personally would hate to see the last images of Bradley be being pulled from the field, or escorted out of the stadium.