I debated this last nomination. I have defended, advised, and mocked Milton Bradley ad infinitum. If all I knew about Bradley’s 2009 season came from box scores and stats, I’d say he had a down but not dreadful year. Obviously the 40 RBI total is way too low. But the stats themselves don’t scream “Train Wreck!”
Unfortunately for . . . humanity, the stats don’t tell the whole Milton Bradley story. A Lifetime movie of the week very well might. A lot of media members saw a Milton meltdown coming (and some did their best to fulfill their own prophecies). Cub fans in general were suspicious of the signing (a 3-year, $30 million deal, the math of which never seems to add up; he’s making $7 million in ’09). So you could blame Jim Hendry for signing Milton in the first place. But I don’t think that decision is in the running for worst move of the season.
You could easily put the blame on Lou, too. As I’ve noted, his lineup shuffles probably didn’t do a lot to help ease what has become a standard rough adjustment period for big-money free-agent Cub outfielders. I doubt sending him home and calling him a piece of tin worked motivational wonders, either. But in regard to Milton specifically, I seriously doubt Lou is to blame for Milton’s inability to handle life as a Cub.
I didn’t want to blame the fans or the media because, contrary to what either group might think, the Cubs don’t rise and fall according to the comments made about them. And just when I was about to give up on a Milton-related nomination, I suddenly realized who in this picture may have made the worst move of the season:
Milton Bradley. Duh.
The worst move of the season just may have been Milton’s decision to pour out the crusty contents of his heart to Bruce Miles (who, in one of the best pieces of sports journalism Chicago has seen in years, relayed the story in all its lamentable context to us); about how he doesn’t enjoy playing at Wrigley, how he understands why the Cubs are such losers, and how the management, the players, and the fans all breed on negativity. That move was stupid, ignorant, selfish, mean-spirited, pathetic, pitiful, and also not much good.
That interview was the culmination of a bad attitude that had been stewing within Milton from the day he first set foot in the left-handed batter’s box at Wrigley field as a Chicago Cub. He was ejected on a bad call, the first in a series of admittedly bad things to happen to him as a Cub, none of which outweighed the childish behavior exhibited by him all season long.
Plenty of Milton’s adversaries this year have been jerks worthy of criticism. But their collective wrongs do not make Milton right. And when Milton Bradley, in talking with Bruce Miles, turned once and for all on the fans, the city of Chicago, and the Cubs organization in general, he blamed me for this mess. He blamed you.
Bad move, Milton. Bad move. Was it the worst? I doubt Milton thinks so. What do you think?