Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bradley, clubhouse teetering on the edge

It seems there is a perfect storm brewing in the Cubs clubhouse with Milton Bradley. The building block is clearly the well-publicized dispute between him and Lou yesterday, leading many in the media to deem it "Mt. Lou blowing up."

Beyond the uneasiness with his manager, which isn't all that uncommon in professional sports, there seems to be a growing uneasiness with his teammates, which really scares me. Here is a quote from Alfonso Soriano following yesterday's game from Wayne Dreh's article on

"I hope that [Bradley] comes back and can help the team to win," Soriano added. "If it's not that way, we don't need him. We are 25 players, and we have to be on the same page. And if he's not 100 percent here to help the team win, we don't need him."

Now I understand that at the beginning of this Sori gives Bradley his props and thus should be absolved for whatever else he says, like saying "no offense" before offending someone. The problem is, something offensive is always said. "We don't need him," is said twice by Sori, which no matter what context it's in, is a very strong thing to say about a teammate.

Though this quote scared me a little bit because I fear what Bradley will think if he sees it, it was also kind of refreshing. I can't remember one other time (and I could be missing something) since Sori has been with the Cubs that he has gone out and said something as strong as this. The only times he seems to interact with the media are cut-and-dry, cliched quotes after he has a good game. We all hear how much he cares and how he is the hardest worker out there, and I don't doubt any of that. However, it is nice to see some outward emotion from him, but I digress.

Back to Bradley. Even before all this exploded yesterday, Milton himself admitted that he isn't that comfortable in the clubhouse and was quoted as saying this in a Tribune article by Paul Sullivan:

"This isn't me," Bradley told the Tribune before his confrontation with Piniella. "I've always excelled at playing baseball, and to come here and suck like I have, it's just not a good feeling. And there's really not one guy who I can sit and talk to. I've been on teams where I have guys I know, or somebody I can just vent to."

He then goes on to talk about D-Lee in that same article:

"We just don't have that bond," he replied. "'D-Lee' is cool. He's quiet. But things change. I had a good rapport with [fired hitting coach Gerald Perry]. I trusted Gerald and I could talk to him, and he's gone. I think I clicked with [ex-Cub outfielder Joey] Gathright, and he's gone. So you just kind of feel like you're on an island, and trying to stay afloat."

The article does go on to state that Bradley said he views the Cubs as a "good group of guys." Despite that, these sentiments are just plain scary to me. On one hand it does sound like Milton is making himself out to be a victim; that the only guys he's formed a relationship with were ones the Cubs cut loose so boo hoo. On the other hand, it just can't be good for any professional (or person at work for that matter) to not have found at least one or two people they can feel comfortable around after over four months.

I am still a firm believer that Milton is going to turn in a pretty decent year. It is clear he can do damage from the right side, and it will be shame if he has to sit out these next two games. Also, I don't think a benching is what he needs. Let's not forget that the extent of his "crime" yesterday was throwing a helmet and smashing a water cooler. The storm in the media happened for Milton's past issues this season and the fact that anytime either Lou or Milton does something to garner attention the media (both local and national) have a field day.

If players were benched for doing what he did yesterday then Z wouldn't throw a pitch all year. There is such a delicate balance going with Milton and the clubhouse/rest of the team right now that taking him away would just make the situation more awkward. Hopefully he starts and makes people forget about this by having a big day.

Photos courtesy and, repsectively.

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