Tag Archives: Milton Bradley

A Sports Radio Highlight and a Sports Radio Lowlight

I caught a little of both the Score and ESPN 1000 prior to the Cubs game that didn’t actually happen tonight. Two things stood out.

On ESPN 1000, they were talking about the revelation that Sammy Sosa had a positive drug test in 2003. John Jurkovich was all over the issue, in a good way. His reaction was basically “So what?” Nobody is surprised by this. Sammy was far from the only person who did it, and as Jurko pointed out, it’s a joke that Sammy and Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and even Pete Rose are being kept out of or will be kept out of the Hall of Fame. So I have to give him credit for his take on that issue – I think it’s exactly right.

Then there was the Score. They seemed to have their morning guys doing the pregame for the Cubs/Sox game. Brian Hanley was complaining about the Cubs lineup, and how Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano were in it even though it was a cool, wet night. He pointed out that Soriano hasn’t been given a day off in a few weeks, and that given the weather, Bradley was an injury risk. He also pointed out that Lou said he was going to try to rest players more this season. But Hanley failed to consider that a) the Cubs have had the last few Mondays off, so the players have been getting rest every week, and b) the Cubs actually had yesterday off. Hanley also, in the same bit, criticized Piniella for the lineup he ran out against Tim Lincecum and the Giants where most of the Cubs starters got the day off at the same time. So, to recap – Hanley wants Piniella to rest his good players against the Sox, but he will criticize him if he rests his good players. I think maybe Hanley just wants to to rip Piniella no matter what he does.

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This will solve everything!

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.

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What Would Mister Rogers Blog?

After today’s game I imagine that a lot of Cubs blogs are spewing a lot of vitriol towards the team and, in particular, Milton Bradley. I don’t blame them, and I definitely made some comments over at Another Cubs Blog out of frustration, myself. But there are going to definitely be personal attacks on him, and I imagine he’s going to hear some incredibly vile stuff from the bleacher crowd tomorrow. I try to stay away personal attacks, even when I attack a player’s performance. I suggested that Aaron Miles should lose his job in my piece at Mouthpiece Sports today. But I try not to get too worked up by the fact that he’s on the team, and I try to remember his performance on the field is separate from his character. Why? Because of Mister Rogers.

There was a phenomenal article in Esquire magazine about Mister Rogers a decade ago. I didn’t read it until much more recently, but it’s available here, online. The author really goes out of his way to establish what an amazingly decent person Mister Rogers was, and a particular part of the article stands out in my memory:

Mister Rogers always worries about things like that, because he always worries about children, and when his station wagon stopped in traffic next to a bus stop, he read aloud the advertisement of an airline trying to push its international service. “Hmmm,” Mister Rogers said, “that’s a strange ad. `Most people think of us as a great domestic airline. We hate that.’ Hmmm. Hate is such a strong word to use so lightly. If they can hate something like that, you wonder how easy it would be for them to hate something more important.”

I’m frustrated by this Cubs team. They were supposed to leave the rest of the division in the dust. Instead they’re scuffling at .500 and the offense is pathetic. But I always think of this when I get too worked up. I wonder if I can get that upset at a baseball team, how easy would it be for me to get upset over something more important?

And that’s the thing about a lot of Cubs bloggers and commenters out there, too, and a lot of professional writers. They’ll criticize the players’ play, but they also attack them personally. Carlos Zambrano and Milton Bradley are “headcases.” Aramis Ramirez has been accused of dogging it I don’t know how many times. Geovany Soto put on a few pounds, so he must be lazy. If it’s that easy for these people to decide they dislike the personality and work ethic of people they’ve never met, how easy is it for them to do it when it’s something more important?

The bottom line is that Bradley had a bad game today. He lost a ball in the sun, which may or may not be his fault. He lost track of the number of outs and threw the ball into the stands. That’s definitely his fault. He ran into an out, and that’s also definitely his fault. People are absolutely right to criticize his performance today, and this season. He’s not hitting nearly as well as he should, and public criticism is definitely something that comes with playing major league baseball. But there’s no reason to extend it to attacks on character or to just downright hateful comments, and yet that’s what fans and some writers seem to want to subject these guys do. Me? I’m just trying to remember Mister Rogers.

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Milton Bradley Facts

Bradley doesn’t have a hit yet. He’s 0/9 as a Cub. And yet, somehow, he was productive in this series. Tonight especially, where he reached base four times without a hit. In fact, even though he doesn’t have a hit, Bradley’s OBP is .357 (4 walks and one HBP in 14 PA). That would have been eighth among Cubs regulars last year. Which doesn’t sound impressive except he’s done that without a single hit.

What’s more, Bradley has seen a ton of pitches. In fact, by my count, in 14 plate appearances, he’s seen 77 pitches. I’m not sure, when keeping pitch/PA stats, if you count partial at-bats (Bradley was on base when Theriot ended an inning getting thrown out stealing). But regardless, he’s seen 17% of the pitches opposing teams have thrown, in only 11.7% of the team’s plate appearances.

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DeRosa versus Bradley for the hundredth time

MB21 at Another Cubs Blog found this gem from Ken Rosenthal:

Cubs: Their lineup finally is more balanced, but how much will they truly benefit from the addition of Milton Bradley and subtraction of Mark DeRosa?

As far as that question is intended to mean what it does on its face, as in, “how much more than Mark DeRosa is Milton Bradley worth?” it’s a valid question. As far as it’s meant to mean, “Is Mark DeRosa worth more than Milton Bradley?” it’s sort of silly. Here’s their value wins, from Fangraphs, since 2002:

bradley_versus_derosa_value_wins

Until recently, DeRosa has been way worse than Bradley. The last couple of years, it’s been closer, and DeRosa has a mild advantage in two of the last three years. But DeRosa did this playing full seasons in the past three years, while Bradley put up basically the same value in partial seasons. In 2007, DeRosa was worth basically the same amount in 500 PAs as Bradley was in 200 PAs.

In other words, Bradley has always been worth far more per game than DeRosa is. If you can fill in for Bradley with a backup who is better than replacement level – the backup doesn’t even have to be average – you’re better off having Bradley on your team than DeRosa, and it doesn’t look to me like that this would ever have been untrue, even with the success DeRosa has had in recent years.

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A monster and a menace

Carrie Muskat has this photo of Milton Bradley signing for fans at Hohokam Park.  

It was taken by a Japanese journalist. I guess the memo that Milton isn’t very nice to Paul Sullivan and so shouldn’t get favorable stories didn’t make it across the Pacific. The man only went 0-2 today with a walk, bringing his spring average down to .500. He needs to be stopped. I cannot believe we gave up a classy gentleman of baseball like Mark DeRosa so we could afford to sign this ingrate.

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Bradley’s flu

Milton Bradley was out of the lineup again today, presumably with the flu. Some commenters over at Bleed Cubbie Blue have questioned whether Bradley is actually sick. This one stood out to me, though. Poster “Chanman25” asks, “Who gets the flu in Arizona,” after lamenting that Adam Dunn is performing well in the World Baseball Classic.

If only we had some sort of way to map flu incidence. Oh! Wait! We do! Here’s the current Google Flu Trends map:

picture-2

The top half is the national trend. Bottom half is, of course, a state-by-state map. Who gets the flu in Arizona? About the same amount of people as in the rest of the country right now.

Hey, you can’t expect actual baseball analysis every day.

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