Milton Bradley, we hardly knew ye.
Only 5 ½ months into the first of what was supposed to be three seasons for the Cubs worth $30 million, the oft-slumping, more-oft-distracting Bradley was suspended by the Cubs for the rest of the year over comments he made to the media in recent days, culminating with an interview with the Daily Herald Saturday in which he took shots at media, fans and even the organization.
The chances of him returning to the team next season reside somewhere between those of the team making the playoffs this year and Hack Wilson being named NLCS MVP next month.
With that in mind, we look back on the Life of Milty as a Cub, in quotes from the 40-RBI man himself:
``It's just a great honor for me to be able to stand up here today and say I'm a Chicago Cub. I want to do a little wordplay on Lou Gehrig's speech about being the luckiest man. I don't believe in luck. I believe in blessings. And I consider myself the most blessed man on the face of the earth today.''
-- Jan. 8 at his introductory news conference.
``It's definitely a challenge, but I think at this point in my career and life, I'm ready to accept that. I've matured. Will I make mistakes? It's a possibility. I don't expect to make as big of mistakes as I've made in the past. But this is just a new chapter. I can turn the page. I can close a lot of the book that's been written. And start a new one.''
-- Jan. 8, same news conference.
``You might catch me on a day and I might blow you off. But hopefully that's few and far between.''
--Feb. 15, his first day at spring training camp.
``It's a home finally. I've been kind of a rent-a-player for the most part over the years. I'd have a good year somewhere and the next year some younger guys were coming along, or they're trying to cut some payroll, and I'm always the guy to go. ... So to come here and feel I'm where I can get comfortable and relax a little bit, that helps.''
-- Feb. 15, same spring training interview.
``I feel like 30 million bucks.''
-- April 23, in comment to reporters over shoulder after tense back-and-forth with media that ended homestand-long boycott of media because of Sun-Times story he said he didn't like.
``Basically, for me, I talk to people I like. I don't particularly like the media, and the media doesn't like me. So let's not pretend we're buddies or you're trying to do anything for me. If anything you hurt me more than help. So I don't see any benefit of really talking to the media. That's just how I feel. That's how I've always felt.''
-- April 24 after GM Jim Hendry had a closed-door session with Bradley, in part to encourage him to deal better with media.
`` `We're going to get him any time we can. As soon as he gets two strikes, we're going to call whatever and see what he does. Let's try to ruin Milton Bradley.' ''
-- May 23, characterizing the way umpires treat him.
``You tricked me the other day. I was venting to you a bit and you made a big article about it. You won't trick me again.''
-- May 25, to the reporter who quoted him talking about the umpires.
``I have too much respect for you to respond to that.''
-- June 26 in response to manager Lou Piniella calling him a ``piece of [crap]'' after Piniella kicked him out of a game at Sox Park for trashing the dugout.
``I'm better for it. When he says something, it's not just the tone or the exact words, but I listen to the sentiment behind it.''
-- June 27, on Piniella, before the game, after a meeting with Piniella in which the manager apologized for his comment but laid down the law.
``I played in L.A., and I thought L.A. was over the top, but this is a whole different level. It's fanatic fans. It's constant cameras and things. It's a lot more than you expect. But this is what I signed up for, so I can accept that.''
-- June 27, after the game.
```It's a beautiful thing, because I've got time to be the player I want to be and work through this rut and get there. And I've got the support of teammates, and the manager and the GM. They stand behind me. So I know I'll be able to work through it.''
--June 30, on whether he regrets signing a three-year commitment with the Cubs.
``You have to just be able to accept that fact ... that at some point in time, no matter who you are you're going to struggle, and it's how you overcome it and when you overcome it, that defines you. This is my moment.''
-- June 30.
``You can mark it down. I'm going to be hitting for the rest of the year.''
--July 12, before starting the second half 2 for 14 and finishing the season at .257 - .234 left-handed -- with just 40 RBIs and a .205 average with runners in scoring position.
--July 20, in a one-word reply he repeated four times in response to various questions about whether he had ever considered scrapping switch-hitting because of his left-handed struggles, whether he would ever consider it, whether he had ever done it and whether he could imagine a scenario in which it might make sense.
``It went. That's all I can elaborate.''
--July 20, during the same interview, on how it went working with Piniella on his hitting.
``I'm not shocked. This year's been an uncharacteristic year for myself, so I don't know what kind of report they've got. But I know I've had some trouble with some balls in the sun, forgot the outs one time. But the cannon's always there.''
--Aug. 8, when asked if he was surprised that Colorado's Dexter Fowler tried to score from third on a shallow fly to right the night earlier.
``It's not a revelation. I can hit.''
--Aug. 10 on starting to get hot at the plate.
``Write it however you want. If you want to give Lou credit for putting me in the 2 hole, and I start getting hits, you can do that. If you want to say that eventually Milton Bradley's a good hitter, so he's going to hit, and just be patient, then you can write that. Whatever you want to write. I don't have an opinion. I just play.''
--Aug. 10 on whether being moved to the No. 2 spot in the lineup was an influence on hit hot streak.
``It's hard to be comfortable. When I go home and look in the mirror, I like what I see. My family's there. I have people I can talk to who are very supportive in spite of everything and all the adversity and hatred you face on a daily basis. But I'll be all right; I always have [been].''
--Aug. 25, when asked postgame whether he was feeling more comfortable (at the plate).
``America doesn't believe in racism. ... I'm talking about hatred, period. ... All I'm saying is I just pray the game goes nine innings so I can go out there for the least amount of time as possible and go home.''
--Aug. 26 when asked to clarify the ``hatred'' remark a night earlier.
``It's not an issue. It's nothing brand new. It's nothing that just started when Milton Bradley came here. It's the same stuff [the Sun-Times] wrote about in the beginning of the year. This is not like a surprise or a shock or brand new to me or anyone else. You know what I'm saying? It's the way it's been.''
--Aug. 26 when asked to elaborate on the racial nature of the abuse he was receiving.
``I'm always the story, whether I hit .500 or .100. Somehow, some way, everything revolves back to me. I guess I'm kind of a big deal or something. People like talking about Milton Bradley, not to my face, but only behind my back. ... Sure don't like it when you tell the truth.''
--Aug. 27, in a rambling, vague postgame media session resulting from the remarks the previous two days.
``People that come in here for a couple hours a day and want to ask you controversial questions, knowing you're going to give them a legit answer, and twist everything around and make it a story - that's to be expected.''
``Stand out in right field with me one day and you'll see. Put on my Jordans one day, walk around and see life through my eyes. You can never do that. When it comes to issues like this, there's no way you can give a fair opinion because you just don't know. That's just the God's honest truth.''
``And unless you get paid $30 million to play right field for the Chicago Cubs, then you can't speak on how I feel, because you don't know.''
``USA Today is the only legit source of news to me. If it ain't in USA Today, it don't really matter to me.''
``Strange as it seems, [with other] teams you play mostly night games. Here you have to get up at 8 [a.m.]. It's an adjustment for your body. It's an adjustment to get ready and revved up.''
--Aug. 28, attributing his slow start at the plate this season with Wrigley Field's high number of day games.
``What else you got?''
--Sept. 17, in a phrase he repeated six times to questions during bizarre postgame media session after taking himself out of the game because of a sore knee.
``Not really. It's just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment. There's too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. Everything is just bashing you. You go out there and you play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it. It's just negativity.''
--Sept. 19, when asked by the Daily Herald simply whether he had enjoyed his first season in Chicago.
``And you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here, because it's negative.''
--Sept. 19, in same interview.
--Sept. 17, ending that bizarre one after Thursday's game.