Otto Greule Jr
From the "plus ça change..." department comes news that Milton Bradley has been charged with abusing his estranged wife and could face up to 13 years in jail if convicted. (This means he could potentially be released barely in time to hear the Blue Ribbon Committee's decision about San Jose.)
Following Bradley's career, and now life, is like watching the train wreck of an especially talented train. Bradley was so talented that each time he wore out his welcome with a team there was a new team willing to believe they possessed the unique blend of clubhouse chemistry that could tame Milton's demons.
Like clockwork came the early declarations of victory, including quotes from teammates feigning bewilderment that Bradley couldn't find a "home" elsewhere because he was a model teammate, great guy -- in fact, Insert Name Here had taken Milton under his wing and that seemed to help Bradley turn the corner. And then things just didn't quite work out and Bradley was on to his next team.
Until now, anyway. No one was clamoring for Bradley's services come 2013 when he is now facing not the Nippon Ham Fighters as his next option but quite possibly the Los Angeles County Jail Felonies. Their colors are orange and orange. It's a sad story for everyone involved, right down to the fact that domestic violence is no joke. Kicked water coolers and flung bats or words aimed at umpires are one thing; unfortunately, Bradley's temper catches up to him in the real world too and that's a whole other matter.
I always had mixed feelings about Milton Bradley's volatile baseball career. No question he brought on his own troubles. At the same time he was subjected to vicious taunting by fans who knew he couldn't resist the bait and who also knew they were positioned, in the bleachers, where their taunts could reach Bradley's ears but where Bradley could never reach them.
In a sense, the relationship between Bradley and fans was like the Cowardly Lion: Bradley was the lion and the fans were the cowards. I never liked that. It was like poking a lion with a stick when he's in a cage and you know he can't get to you, knowing full well that the lion is wired to attack when bothered. When you also could have stood back and just admired the lion's beauty and left him alone to battle his nature on his own time. And there was plenty of beauty in Bradley's game, as he was a legitimate "5-tool player" when he made it onto the field.
Ultimately, though, no matter how hard it may be for us we are responsible for finding a way to manage our rage no matter where it comes from or how deep it runs. Every team that thought it could handle Milton Bradley was wrong, and the city of Los Angeles looks to be the latest to say "Sorry, we're gonna have to give up on you too." Just sad all the way around, really.