Milton Bradley found a voice of support in the media today. Frank Thomas is helping to cover the Cubs/Sox interleague series for Comcast SportsNet, and he offered this:
“I think Milton is a great teammate,” he said of Bradley, who played with Thomas in Oakland. “He’s very passionate and loves to play the game. But sometimes he has things that happen.” That was a reference to Bradley’s emotional outbursts and, more recently, his gaffe Friday in the eighth inning against Minnesota when he threw the ball into the bleachers with only two outs.
“We called him T.O. [for controversial NFL star Terrell Owens] in Oakland and he loved it,” Thomas said. “You give him his space and he’ll produce.” Thomas said when he learned Bradley was signing with the Cubs, “to be honest, I felt at first he’d have problems with the media because the intensity is different from Oakland or Texas or even L.A.
“But it’s early,” Thomas said, predicting Bradley will be a significant contributor for the Cubs in the second half. “Milton shows up in the second half. We wouldn’t have gotten to the playoffs in Oakland [in 2006] without him. Don’t be too quick to judge Milton Bradley. The guy has a flare for the dramatic. He was a teammate of mine and I thoroughly enjoyed playing with him.”
I’ve always liked Frank Thomas, and I felt sort of like Sox fans and the media in this town didn’t deserve him sometimes. Thomas knows about Bradley and knows about the problems the Chicago media can cause a player.
Thomas’s situation is somewhat unique in that I can’t remember any sort of legitimate grievance against him at all. Milton Bradley is getting picked on in the media, sure, but he went after an umpire, even if the whole story is more complicated than that. Sammy Sosa got attacked in the media when he left, but he really did use a corked bat in a game. I don’t agree with the media’s treatment of them, but at least they use real, unfortunate events as a flimsy justification for their personal vendettas.
I’m not a Sox fan and I never followed the coverage of Thomas that closely, but I honestly feel like the media here basically went after him solely because he didn’t like dealing with them. He was an amazing player and I don’t remember hearing about a ton of on- or off-field incidents with him. So there’s a player who was just singled out because he wasn’t nice to the media. I’m glad he’s in Bradley’s corner, but I’m sure we’re just hours away from a columnist calling them peas in a pod and writing about how this shows that Bradley is somehow a bad guy.