Tuesday, September 22, 2009
By suspending Milton Bradley for the rest of the season, Jim Hendry made an important statement: there is a line--albeit one that is very hard to cross--when it comes to things you can get away with in a Cubs uniform. Perhaps this step will lead to a change in clubhouse culture.
Zambrano refused to hydrate himself for years, and nothing happened. He told the media he's not a huge fan of doing his abdominal and core workouts, and nothing happened. It took Piniella three years to stop cowtowing to the World's Worst Leadoff Hitter. And Bradley was treated with kid gloves all season despite disrespecting the media, fighting with his manager and generally acting like a spoiled brat who didn't get his favorite toy even though Piniella has sent him and his 12 HR and 40 RBI out to right field nearly every day.
After taking himself out of Saturday's game, refusing to pinch-hit and arguing with hitting coach Von Joshua, combined with recent comments about "negativity" surrounding the team and hoping each home game goes only nine innings so he can get home as quickly as possible, Hendry finally decided enough was enough. His most recent comments don't constitute his worst offense as a Cub, but they were the proverbial straw that broke the Cub's back.
With Hendry laying down the law, his teammates taking Hendry's side, and the Tribune asking if Bradley is the worst free agent signing in Chicago sports history, the Milton Bradley Experiment is officially over, having exploded into a million little Milton pieces. But Hendry's real work will begin in the offseason when he tries to unload as much as he can of the $21 million left on Bradley's contract. Hendry has worked some magic in the past, but this is going to be like trying to sell cancer to a healthy person.
Speaking of healthy people, Milton Bradley is not one. I'm not trying to be funny--I think Bradley has some serious issues. He always thinks everyone's out to get him and he turns every molehill (even ones that are seen only by him) into a mountain. When I mistakenly said before the season that he might add some much needed personality to the Cubs' clubhouse, I thought he was a character who would say what was on his mind. I didn't realize his mind was a bit warped and that NONE of the things on his mind were EVER positive.
So Hendry made a big mistake by signing Milton Badly, and now he faces an uphill battle in his attempt to rectify the situation for next year. At least he's taken a step in the right direction, boosting clubhouse morale by removing this cancer for the remainder of the season.