The Definitive Unsourced Milton Bradley Timeline

Update:  As history unfolds, so must our recordings of it change. Here is the world famous Milton Bradley Timeline with an update for recent events:

I meant to say something intelligent and original about the recent Milton Bradley/Lou Pineilla fracas.  But the more I tried to write, the more I found myself thinking back on just how this ridiculous and completely unsurprising situation came to be.  What began a cursory glance at the wikipedia page of one of baseball’s most fascinating outfielders unraveled into the following:

1860: A restless printer/lithographer in Massachusetts invents a board game called The Checkered Game of Life and forms a company in his own name to release it. He accumulates vast wealth, and his name, Milton Bradley, comes to personify joy in the form of wholesome family fun. He will die an old and happy man, blissfully oblivious to the suffering his own name will one day cause a young man from Southern California.

1978: A healthy baby boy is born in Harbor City, CA just outside of Long Beach. The boy’s father goes behind his mother’s back to fill out the birth certificate, covertly passing his own name down. Thus is born Milton Obelle Bradley Junior. Said Junior’s duped mother of her husband’s deception: “He wanted a Junior, and made damn sure he got one.”

Milton Bradley has 11 career sac bunts.

Milton Bradley has 11 career sac bunts.

1996: Milton Bradley is drafted by the Montreal Expos out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School. Bradley graduated from Long Beach Poly with a 3.7 GPA, and was kicked off the baseball team only once (briefly, his sophomore season for “combativeness”).

2004: A busy year for our hero begins in February when he is sentenced to 3 days in jail for allegedly driving away from the police after being stopped for speeding. Mere weeks later, in March, he is pulled out of a Spring Training game by Cleveland manager Eric Wedge for failing to speed…down the base paths that is! The two exchange words after Bradley allegedly doesn’t run out a pop fly. He is promptly traded to Los Angeles.

2004 B: Bradley’s tenure with the hometown Dodgers  finally gets interesting. On a cool June night, Bradley is ejected at home plate after words with the umpire. He screams a lot, is sort of restrained by gangly manager Jim Tracy, and finally lays his helmet, bat, and gloves in the batter’s box calmly and exits the field. All seems right in Chavez Ravine until a moment later, when our hero emerges from the dugout with a bag of baseballs, emptying balls onto the grass and haphazardly launching dozens into the outfield. Five tool player indeed.

2004 C: A fan in Dodger stadium throws a bottle at Milton in the outfield. So he picks it up, strolls over to the stands, and slams the bottle down in the front row, treating fans to a colorful lecture on the fourth amendment and his rights to privacy and not getting beer thrown at him.

2005: Our slightly less angry hero calls teammate Jeff Kent a racist. Nobody really doubts him, but the Dodgers opt to stick with the healthier, more productive Kent. Milton Obelle is dealt to Oakland over the winter for food blogger Andre Ethier. “We got along as best as we could,” said Bradley of his imperfect relationship with Kent, “It didn’t work for me.”

Or maybe hes the only sane one left.

Or maybe he's the only sane one left.

2007: Milton Bradley is now a Padre. In a fervent late-season argument with an umpire, Bradley is restrained by his manager Bud Black. Somehow their legs tangle, and Bradley spins awkwardly to the ground, tearing his ACL. But wait, there’s more! In a Zinedine Zidanian twist, Padres’ First Base coach Bobby Meacham claims that Bradley was baited by the umpire, who uttered ”the most disconcerting conversation I have heard from an umpire to a player.” Either way, the Padres’ playoff chances spiraled to the ground with their center fielder.

2008: Bradley has his best and healthiest year as a big leaguer. As a DH, he leads the American League in batting average and OPS, and makes his first All Star team. He even writes a poignant guest entry about family, faith, and baseball on the New York Times Bats blog. Oh yeah, he also chases down a Royals’ TV commentator after a game over some comments made about his behavior issues. Thankfully, our hero is intercepted before reaching his target, allowing him to redirect the beating toward AL pitchers.

2009: Milton signs a 3-year deal to play outfield for the Cubs. Immediately the Chicago media calls him names. One columnist goes so far as to suggest that the Bradley signing is a mistake, because a player who once accused a teammate of racism might not get along with too well the charmingly racist fans in the Wrigley Field bleachers. (No, don’t examine the racist fan base; question the Milton Bradley for the speculated possibility that he might be sensitive to racism.) He bats terribly and has a rocky relationship with equally charismatically destructive manager Lou Pineilla. Somewhat more surprisingly, Bradley is responsible for a Phil Jackson-esque moment of charming high road Zen. The exchange, courtesy of Saturday’s Chicago Sun Times:

According to sources, Piniella then shouted at Bradley, ”You’re not a player! You’re a piece of sh–!”
Bradley then said, ”I have too much respect for you to respond to that,” a source said.

2009 B: Hitting .257 in September, Milton Bradley is suspended from the Cubs for the duration of the season after blaming Cubs fans for the team’s failure to win a World Series (you would suspect a GM would be thankful for that sort of comment). The suspension leaves Bradley and the Cubs in a sort of purgatory, as it is clear the team does not want him back and he does not want to be back in Chicago. How will this glorious soap opera end? Fear not. Evidently a graduate of the Nothing is Fucked school, or completely unaware that the goddamn plane has crashed into the mountain, Hendry reassures Cubs fans: We don’t anticipate any problems. We’ll have it all worked out in the next few days.

*Editor’s Note: I made a slight edit to the title of the post.  The old one was kind of pointlessly mean.

9 Responses to “The Definitive Unsourced Milton Bradley Timeline”

  • No, don’t examine the racist fan base; question the Milton Bradley for the speculated possibility that he might be sensitive to racism.)

    He should legally change his name to The Milton Bradley. It sounds good.

    I know you’re not a big fan of other sports, but is there a good analogy for Bradley? A decent, but not great player who grates on everyone?

  • Actually I am a huge fan of other sports, but I think it’s tough to find a comparable for Bradley. He’s such a unique brand of malcontent.

    Ron Artest comes to mind in the NBA, but he is a better player, and by all means more a Persona with a capital P. Where Bradley seems hurt by his reputation and wants to be a “regular guy” and spends a lot of time with charity and stuff, Artest just seems to have fun improving his brand.

    In the way he bounces from team to team, scandal to scandal, Sean Avery comes to mind. But then again, Sean Avery is an absolutely, irredeemably terrible person in all aspects of his life.

    So I don’t know. Maybe somebody in the NFL?

  • I always enjoy a good headcase. Milton is a long time favorite. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    @Rockabye I’m no Bill Simmons, but Ron Artest is the obvious NBA parallel, right?

  • Ahhhhh, Milton, my old friend. A true character of baseball. The anti-Towny Gwynn. Unlike Gary Shefield and his surliness getting him thrown out of town, Bradley is explosive and insane. Fun to watch in a blimp-on-fire kind of way.

  • What makes Milton so unique is his diva-like attitude when he is such an ordinary player.

    Guys like Manny Ramirez and Terrell Owens come to mind; there is always drama surrounding these guys, and ridiculous stories and quotes to boot. They are superstars however, unlike Milton Bradley.

    Have to concur that Artest is the choice… but also see where Eric is coming from. Artest does seem to be controlled crazy, while Milton…

    The best I could come up with? Freddie Mitchell. Fun stuff. Pinella’s quote on Bradley reminded me of Belichick’s: “All he does is talk. He’s terrible, and you can print that. I was happy when he was in the game.”

  • I would go with Randy Moss. Both are talented, intelligent, sensitive, and prone to outbursts of anger. Also, in spite of their strange behavior, neither has really committed any serious crimes that are damaging to others – only kind of harmless, bizarre things that wind up getting them in the papers.

    Bradley has put up good overall numbers, with spattering years of greatness – same as Moss. Overall, Bradley is a bit underrated as a player, and when healthy, he is usually excellent. The people Bradley seems to hate, Jeff Kent and Lou Piniella, seem like bona-fide a-holes. All in all, the more I read about Milton Bradley, the more likable he gets.

  • and now he is a mariner, well at least for the moment….

  • Don’t forget the time Milton spilled piping hot coffee on starter Esteban Loaiza’s pitching arm between innings of an A’s-Twins playoff game.

  • As you say, the timeline requires periodic updating. Here’s my suggestion for the moment you left off in 2009 to date:

    2009 C: December 18, more than a few days later, the Cubs trade Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Carlos Silva and cash.

    2010: May 4, 2010: With the team on a losing streak, and Bradley’s one of the only bats recently making any noise, he was moved into the cleanup spot, where he started off by going 0-3. After being pulled from the game in the 7th inning after consecutive strikeouts looking, the latter with the bases loaded, and the team trailing 3-1, he reportedly complained that Don Wakamatsu didn’t defend him more with the umpire following his second strikeout and then said, “I’m packing my stuff. I’m out of here.” The team loses 5-2, its fourth in what would become an eight game losing streak.

    May 5, 2010: Bradley makes a scheduled appearance at a local elementary school, gives an impassioned talk about what motivated him growing up to become a ball player, then meets with his manager and the GM and said he needed help for ongoing personal problems. Art Thiel’s Seattle PI column describes the prior night’s loss as the “worst game of the season” and notes that Carlos Silva will continue to be the “gift that keeps on giving, right into his start for the National League in the All-Star Game.” Art’s worst game would be topped (bottomed?) by others before the month of May is over.

    May 6, 2010: The Mariners announce they have placed Bradley on the restricted list. They end up giving him 15 days off to seek counseling.

    May 19, 2010: Bradley is reactivated. The team has gone 3-10 in his absence. Other candidates for “worst game of the season” in that stretch include back to back 8-0 losses to Tampa Bay and the Angels May 6 and 7, and a 6-5 loss to Baltimore in which Felix Hernandez pitched 7 innings, and left with a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th.

    May 24, 2010: Bradley gives interviews about why he asked for help. He says he thought about getting help in 2009, while still with the Chicago Cubs: “I wanted to take some time out, get my thoughts together, and just speak to someone and get an understanding from somebody unbiased,” Bradley said. “But you can’t really do that in Chicago. There’s just too much going on.” Meanwhile, in Arlington, Texas, the Cubs spot Carlos Silva a 4 run lead in top of the first, and he scatters 6 hits and 3 runs over 5 1/3 innings to improve his record to 6-0.

    May 25, 2010: Bradley, hitting cleanup for the first time since his May 4 meltdown, goes 2 for 4 with a two-run home run and three RBI in the M’s 5-3 win over the Tigers. After his RBI single in the 8th scores Chone Figgins for the go-ahead run, he leaves first base as a pitching change is made and celebrates with teammates in the dugout. He comments later, “I was full of joy,” he said. “The whole day, I just felt right. I had the right attitude and the right approach. My mind was clear, and I didn’t have a worry at all up there. I was able to come through.”

    …and they all lived happily ever after.

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