When the Chicago Cubs signed Milton Bradley during the last offseason, they knew he was explosive, but they had hoped it would be his bat that provided the fireworks and not his personality.
They were wrong.
On Sunday, the team – which is 11 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals and eight games off the NL Wild Card spot with 15 games to play – suspended Bradley for conduct detrimental to the club following a barrage of comments the outfielder made to the media.
In an interview with The [Arlington Heights]Daily Herald of Illinois, after learning that he had was going to be benched Saturday because of a sore knee, he quipped, “Now you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years.” The Cubs’ last World Series victory was 1908.
But it wasn’t Bradley’s first PR nightmare. In June, he went ballistic in the dugout, and Manager Lou Piniella sent him home. In April, he was suspended for a game after blasting an umpire who called him out on strikes. When he was with the Dodgers, he was ordered to undergo anger management after charging the stands for a fan who threw a bottle that landed near him. He also called a player an “Uncle Tom” last year.
"The last few days became too much for me to tolerate," General Manager Jim Hendry said. "I just decided late last night that's what I was going to do, and I didn't give it a lot of thought what's going to transpire moving forward." Translation: Bradley, who has two years left on a three-year, $30 million contract, could be done altogether as a Cub.
It was the Cubs’ hope that Bradley, a switch-hitting dynamo, would help lead the team to the elusive postseason Promised Land. But his .257 batting average, lackluster homerun production (just 12 this year) and mediocre RBI production (40) only guaranteed a flood of boos when he stood at the plate.
On Sunday, Piniella seemed miffed at Bradley’s unhappiness. "Jim made the decision and I support it. I really do. …I don't know what I could have done. I really don't. I tried to make it as comfortable as I possibly could for Milton."
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