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."