Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Hey, Milton, let's talk

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If Milton Bradley has a problem with the story I wrote for the April 15 editions of the Sun-Times about the reputation at Wrigley for racial taunting and his perspective on that, then he should tell me about it, rip me if he wants, tell me what he thinks was unfair or inaccurate. We can keep the talk private, or he can make it as public as he wants.

But he should probably start by reading the story - something he said today he didn't do.

Yet that didn't stop him from implying this afternoon that it was a big part of what was behind his homestand-long blanket media boycott that ended today only after a disjointed attempt by me and a few other reporters to clear the air with him after the game - and Bradley's sudden decision to pull aside Carrie Muskat, the Cubs' website beat reporter for a one-on-one venting session (quotes from mlb.com are below).


I have no axe to grind with Bradley. I'm certainly not hoping he fails - in fact, his success here would obviously be a great story.

But he's dead wrong if he's trying to imply that he was somehow misquoted, taken out of context or misled regarding my intentions when I interviewed him in Milwaukee before the final game of that series for the story that appeared three days later. And he knows it -- unless he really didn't read it and he's relying on second-hand opinions.

I don't know how much everything going on around him the past two weeks might be factoring into the way he responded to reporters today, at one point comparing Chicago to Los Angeles, where he had a tempestuous relationship with media while playing for the Dodgers.

Certainly, he couldn't have been the happiest guy in the clubhouse after that 10-minute meeting this morning with Lou Piniella, with the manager telling him the injured groin has to be healthy enough to give 100-percent effort or he won't play, that he'll bat sixth instead of fourth when he returns to the lineup and also encouraging Bradley to talk to the media if only to make things easier on himself.

He already was mired in a 1-for-23 slump to start his Cubs career, and after striking out for the third time Wednesday night was booed lustily by the Wrigley crowd for the first time.

If any of that is behind the media boycott or the icy conversation this afternoon, I don't plan to be a willing scapegoat just because he's got a lot of issues swirling around him and a story that ticked off his new organization makes me an easy target.

But if he really believes there was something unfair or inaccurate about the story - which he was asked today but couldn't or wouldn't answer - then let's hear it. If there's something else about it he doesn't like or takes issue with, here I am. I also asked him what he thought about it the day it ran, and he shrugged off the question, saying then, too, that he doesn't read the paper, as he headed out of the room.

Today, he ended the conversation before anything was close to being clarified, much less resolved.

It seems to me the coverage of him overall by the local media during his silent homestand has been more than fair and probably even more patient and tolerant and one or two East Coast markets I can think of - especially considering the way he has blown off reporters every game of the homestand, got ejected and suspended over his first at-bat as a Cub at Wrigley Field and then looked like he was giving half-effort running out that grounder and chasing that foul fly on Wednesday night (albeit, the groin being a potential factor).

Under the circumstances, if he thinks the Chicago media are against him (and I can speak for at least one member), then that's on him.

Anyway, here's the cut and pasted transcript from Muskat's interview today, as lifted from mlb.com (incidentally, she said he never mentioned the Sun-Times or the specific story during this interview):

"It's been frustrating," Bradley said. "You come in here and all [the media] want to talk about is how often you get hurt and your attitude and everything. I've given them an example right off the bat. I just don't feel like getting caught up in all the negativity.

"I'm a positive person, an upbeat person," he said. "I'm trying to focus on what I'm trying to do here. My teammates are behind me and the more reporters get in my face, the more I talk, the more things get written the way I don't say them or they're taken out of context, and that's when you lose teammates and you lose fans. The best strategy for me has always been to not say anything.

"I can sit here and think about the questions I'm going to get and the perfect answer to come up but when it comes to that time, and somebody throws a question at you, just the way they ask it or the question, might make me look perturbed at the question they're asking. I just prefer not to talk. I told Peter [Chase, media relations director] and everybody, and they suggested I talk. But I just don't want to do it.

"When I turn around and people are standing at my locker every time, I'm trying to figure out why because I've already told them I don't want to talk. That's the only thing -- I never had a problem with the media until I started reading stuff that wasn't what I said.

"I never had a problem in my life until I started playing baseball. All of a sudden, there are all these things. I just want to be me. I just want to be that guy who plays baseball and enjoys his teammates and has a good time. That's what I do."

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8 Comments

Although I agree Bradley has questions that need to be answered... your story about the racial remarks at Wrigley was bad timing and something really unecessary... Cubs were playing good ball... it was Jackie Robinson day... just too many things going on.. for such a lack of facts piece of writing...

I have been to over 100 games at Wrigley and never once heard someone yell something racist.

"I never had a problem in my life until I started playing baseball. All of a sudden, there are all these things. I just want to be me. I just want to be that guy who plays baseball and enjoys his teammates and has a good time. That's what I do."

Hey Milton... comes with the $10million 2 year contract. Talk to the reporters... The fans that pay your salary want to know. Are you hurt or just not hustling? Should be an easy answer.

I will agree with Ryan. I think that the article you wrote about racial tensions in Wrigley field was mis-timed, and really kinda unnecessary.

To be honest, I don't have a problem with a player not talking to the media. I myself would be annoyed with the constant badgering that players receive from the media. For some reason you reporters feel like you are entiled to answers. If a player doesn't want to talk, it's like they slapped your mom or something. If a player doesn't want to answer a question, move on to the next player.

Instead of calling or making an attempt to talk to Bradley, here you are, Mr Wittenmeyeron, writing an article calling him out. This issue, between you two, if there really is one, could of been taken care of out of the public. It appears to me, and several other people I've talked to, that this is just a sad attempt, by you, to bait Bradley into some type of confrontation.

Like I said...Sad

Technically, you are probably right that you did not misquote Milton Bradley. But the headline of the story and the direction you went with the story did not correspond to his quotes. Just like the photograph you ran of Milton Bradley the day he signed did not correspond to quotes from him or Cub officials.

If you want to go with the argument you did not misquote him, why don't you explain how you took the quotes from Milton Bradley and manufactured your April 15 story about racism?
Please also explain what was the motivation of running the story and the headline on Jackie Robinson day? Was it your idea personally or a sensationalistic atttempt by Sun Times editors to sell papers?

What a lame attempt by you to try and turn this into something more than it is. Could you be any more obvious in your attempt to bait Bradley into some sort of confrontation or argument.

I could care less if Bradley is or isn't talking to reporters. All us fans care about is how he plays. Bradley talking to you or not talking to you, has no bearing on if the Cubs make the playoffs. Him answering the same ole tired questions that you reporters come up with, doesn't affect the Cubs winning in the playoffs. So why would you think we, the fans, care about what Bradley has to say about an article you wrote.

As much as you would like to think that we actually care about you and your writing, as a fan I care about the Cubs, and them winning the World Series. That's it. You reporters need to quit trying to interject yourself into the equation.

Hey Gord ... lighten up. Milton Bradley is what he is. Focus on the present and report the daily news about the Cubs. He's looked rough in the field so far, shown a good eye at the plate but isn't locked in yet, has shown his red ass, and is banged up. We're not even a month in yet! Shelve the obvious antagonism of Bradley and move on to the bullpen, D. Lee, and Soto.

This is what you were waiting for though. The prospect of a guy like Bradley not performing would bring us racists out to jeer. What will Bradley do? You've already set the stage for the bigger picture in our society that the bleacher folk with rope in hand are waiting to lynch any colored folk that can't perform. Your insight into this racist underworld of booing fans at Wrigley is ...

"I never had a problem in my life until I started playing baseball."
What does this idiotic comment even mean? Haven't most pros played their whole lives, starting with little league? Has been unhappy since he was eight years old?

Hey Cub's fans. Firstly, I'd like to say that I'm a Die-hard Athletic's fan. Secondly, it is sure refreshing to read a blog with that doesn't have a clear thought process in their responses, intelligent comments, nor massive grammatical errors. I am forced to stop reading A's blogs due to the quality of the respondents.

I like Milton Bradley very much as a player when consciously keeps his mind right. He can be a very dangerous bat and an above average outfielder, when he plays the field. In his short 115 game tenure in Oakland, he played right field 111 times.

Milton is in the wrong baseball market to be productive. In Oakland, as well as in Texas, he was in a market that did scrutinize players very harshly. Milton can't handle adversity and that carries over onto the field. Milton could hardly handle our small contingent of media reporters. A good case in point would be Bonds in S.F. until the whole BALCO scandal came about. He was a media pariah throughout his Giant's career.

There is a lot of truth to Milton regarding past history that has been written that can't be overlooked, nor refuted. Past examples would include his "use" of the media to air out his disagreement with Jeff Kent about not running hard to score on a double. That should have been kept in-house. He was traded shortly afterwards to the Athletic's because Ned Colletti knew that the feud was going to cause a fissure in the clubhouse. Who did the A's trade you ask? Andre Ethier. The GREAT Beane was bamboozled. His GENIUS now questioned. Milton Bradley placed on the D.L with an injured shoulder due to a clubhouse disagreement(unconfirmed, yet believable). Milton Bradley designated for assignment by the A's because he was not fully healthy and was notified in a meeting that he will be splitting time in the field for the duration of the season. "Whoa is Me" Milton sulks and gets traded to the Padres in a "get whatever we can get" trade. Who did the A's get you say? Andrew Brown. A career prospect, who ironically was traded for Bradley when the Dodger's made a trade with the Indians. I can understand Milton being unhappy since it was his walk year and heavens forbid he won't get that 3 year, 30 million contract he would get in the future. He was on the DL 5 times during his short 115 game tenure with us. Now he has a 3 year contract. I can only wonder how many times he'll be on there knowing he's secure for 3 years. I won't even get into the mandated Anger Management sessions he was required to take.

In all fairness. He is a very good player. He laid it all out in our play-off series with Detroit. His disappointment after the series was heart felt and sincere. He spoke for the whole team in those tearful moments. I wish only the best for Milton and his career with the Cubs. Chicago is a passionate baseball town and is very critical of their players. I can only hope that Milton becomes a man and acts accordingly.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on April 23, 2009 10:25 PM.

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