Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Race the Easy Way Out For Bradley

Milton Bradley has problems! Of course anyone who follows baseball knows that. He has again made headlines for all the wrong reasons. After being criticized by Jeff Kent for not scoring from first base on a double in Saturday’s game Bradley shot back and accused Kent of not knowing how to conduct himself around black players during a locker room interview Tuesday night.

``The problem is, he doesn't know how to deal with African-American people,'' Bradley said. ``I think that's what's causing everything. It's a pattern of things that have been said -- things said off the cuff that I don't interpret as funny. It may be funny to him, but it's not funny to Milton Bradley. But I don't take offense to that because we all joke about race in here. Race is an issue with everything we do in here.
``Me being an African-American is the most important thing to me -- more important than baseball,''
Here is the problem. Just a few minutes before this comment Bradley had said that the feud between him and Kent was a “dead issue.” So, what’s the problem? Bradley will tell you that Kent is the problem but history will tell you a different story.

Bradley who is a solid player was dealt from the Cleveland Indians for basically nothing because the Indians were that desperate to get rid of him. Later after an on field outburst involving a water bottle Bradley promised to get anger counseling, a week later he called an African American reporter an Uncle Tom because he didn’t like the question he was asked. Last season Bradley was suspended for the remainder of the season down the stretch because of attitude issues.

Are we really expected to believe that Jeff Kent is a racist or could it be that Kent is tired of Bradley’s antics and desired to see more hustle from his teammate. I really don’t think that telling a teammate he should hustle more makes you racists. I really do think that Bradley’s ego took a shot because he considers himself to be the team leader and his hustle was questioned.

``I was told in spring training I was the team leader -- by Paul DePodesta. By Jim Tracy. By (team owner) Frank McCourt,'' Bradley said. ``Growing up in L.A., I know how to deal with all types of people, and I do it on an everyday basis. But some people don't deal with all different types of people every day, and therefore don't know how to handle situations when they arise.''
You are not told you are a team leader rather you earn the right to be a team leader. How does going off the deep end and getting suspended down the home stretch of the season earn a person the right to be the team leader? Calling Kent a racist is easier than dealing with his own shortcomings as a team leader.

``At no time am I going to let somebody question my hustle, my injury or question my motivation for playing,'' Bradley said. ``I watch him on the field, and I follow in his footsteps and the things he does on the field. As far as off the field, he has no clue about leadership.
Turns out that Bradley still has a lot to learn, what you do on the field speaks volumes. Unfortunately with Bradley we have seen too much. This is just another sad chapter in his strange baseball odyssey.