I never thought that I would come to the defense of Milton Bradley but the recent euphoria over the return of Manny Ramirez has me doing just that.
The ridiculous fawning over Ramirez is a nauseating reflection on today’s baseball fans and the media who choose to idolize a self-centered sham. I guess now that they no longer have Barry Bonds to ingratiate themselves with, Ramirez will do.
What is it nowadays that makes a self-centered cheat so popular? What exactly has he done recently to deserve such allegiance?
1. Last summer he quit on the Red Sox in the middle of the season because he was unhappy with the direction of contract negotiations. His bizarre behavior included spending time between Red Sox pitching changes inside the Green Monster doing God knows what.
2. As a going away present, Ramirez cuffed a front office lackey in Houston because he had the misfortune of telling him he could not get all of the comp passes he requested.
3. Upon his arrival in Los Angeles, he was immediately greeted as some sort of matinee idol which, I suppose, is only logical seeing that the city is a vast fantasy land.
4. In the offseason he held out until he got a farcical contract.
5. In April, he was caught using a banned substance leading to a 50 game suspension. Then he wanted everyone to believe that he was unaware that the substance was forbidden.
His return last Friday bordered on the bizarre. The media frenzy was akin to the paparazzi following some celebrity icon. Every move was documented. Every swing, every at bat, every crotch scratching was photographed and reported on. “Here’s Manny picking his nose!”
What kind of example is being set for the kids that it’s OK to cheat?
Meanwhile Milton Bradley is also a target for the fans and media but for an entirely different reason. While Manny can’t do anything wrong, Bradley can’t to do anything right. I listened to Cubs’ fans constantly boo him this weekend. Why? He’s not living up to his lofty contract. Plus, he’s always expected to act like a Boy Scout because of his anger disorder. Any deviation from this results in a chorus of boos. Lose track of outs? Get booed. Pop out with runners on? Get booed. Question an umpire’s call? Get booed. Have a confrontation with the manager? Get sent home!
Bradley is guilty only of not being able to control his emotions. While I’m not making excuses for his past incidents, he should not be held to a higher standard than Ramirez.
He goes to anger management meetings. He recognizes this is an issue. He admitted he was wrong with his face-to-face with Lou Piniella. He is a man aware of his shortcomings and trying to do something about it. Yet the media vilifies him.
Ramirez fits the twisted logic of getting a pass on his actions because he has been chosen as a cultural celebrity. Meanwhile, Bradley is booed because he has an emotional problem that he has admitted and is trying to treat. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?