When I saw that the Chicago Cubs had signed Milton Bradley to a lucrative free-agent contract last offseason, I thought to myself, “Why?”
From a baseball standpoint, his three-year, $30 million deal made no sense. Yes, Bradley was coming off of a year during which he batted .321 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs in a mere 124 games. But that was with Texas, playing in the ultimate hitter’s park in the midst of the ultimate hitter’s lineup. Throughout the rest of his career Bradley was, well, Jeffrey Hammondsâ€”a solid, good, OK corner outfielder who fits in nicely at No. 6 or 7 in the lineup. But the Cubsâ€”being the Cubsâ€”were enticed.
I’ve interviewed Bradley several timesâ€”first when he was an Expo, then later on with, I believe, the Indians. He was a novelty when he first came up, because of his board game moniker, as well as the fact that he was battling Peter Bergeron (Where have you gone?) for a roster spot. His problem, like many athletes, is that he sees himself one way (I’m the best!), yet the reality is strikingly different. Bradley seems to believe he has power to his voice; that, like Ali, Joe Louis, Shaq, etc, he can say things and people will listen closely. Not true. The men I just listed are listened to because they’re, eh, smart. Bradley is just a dope. Every year he can be counted on to say two or three truly inane statements, then cower when they don’t go over so well.
Thing is, the long-suffering Cubbies should have known this. Jim Hendry, the club’s GM, is no moron. He’s a wise baseball man who has brought the Cubs back to life (well, sorta). But signing Bradleyâ€”d-u-m-b.
Just plain dumb.