Milton Bradley’s Flash Flared at Every Stop of Career
By Christrian Petrila
There are some players that fans wish had never worn their favorite team’s jersey. Whether it was for lack of production or the player was just plain unlikable, fans will do their best to deny the fact that this player ever suited up for their team.
For many Indians fans, that player is Milton Bradley.
Bradley’s career with the Indians production-wise wasn’t bad. In 209 games over three seasons, Bradley hit .286 with 19 home runs and 94 RBI. Considering the Indians acquired him for Zach Day – a pitcher who made zero appearances for the Indians – those are phenomenal numbers.
Unfortunately for Bradley and the Indians, his off-field issues far outweighed the positives he would bring to the plate.
In 2003, Bradley was on the disabled list when he was pulled over for speeding. Bradley refused the ticket and sped away from the police. Despite pleading innocent to speeding and fleeing charges, he was still sentenced to three days in jail. Things didn’t get better for Bradley once the next season started.
After he didn’t run out a popup in a Spring Training game, Bradley was banned from Indians camp. Just before the start of the 2004 season, he was sent to the Dodgers in exchange for Franklin Gutierrez and Andrew Brown after manager Eric Wedge requested he be traded.
Bradley was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1996 and spent parts of five seasons in the minors, putting up consistent numbers at all levels. Finally, he made his debut on July 19, 2000 against the New York Mets. In his debut, he gave Expos fans reasons to be excited, as he went 3-5 with an RBI. The rest of that season wasn’t as promising for the young outfielder. He would only hit .221 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 42 games. The next season didn’t start out much better for Bradley, as he hit .223 with one home run and 19 RBI in 67 games with the Expos. Montreal decided to send him to the Indians in the aforementioned trade for Day.
After wearing out his welcome in Cleveland, Bradley played a couple seasons in Los Angeles. Filling the center field role of the recently departed Dave Roberts (last week’s Flash), Bradley put together one of the best seasons of his career. He hit .267 with 19 homers and 67 RBI in a career-high 141 games en route to the postseason. In St. Louis’ four-game NLDS win that year, Bradley hit .273 with a solo home run accounting for his only RBI. The next year was promising for Bradley, as he hit .290 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI. However, a torn patellar tendon and ACL ended his season and Dodgers career prematurely. That offseason, he and Antonio Perez were traded to Oakland for Andre Ethier.
Bradley played in 115 games for the A’s between 2006 and 2007. His numbers were respectable, as his average in that time was .279. He also hit 16 home runs and drove in 59 runs. In the 2006 playoffs, Bradley struggled mightily in the ALDS, hitting just .077 with his only hit being a home run. He picked it up in the ALCS, but his .500 batting average and two home runs weren’t enough to help the A’s prevent getting swept at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.
Halfway through the 2007 season, Bradley was traded by Oakland to the San Diego Padres for Andrew Brown. Yes, the same Andrew Brown he was traded for three years before. His time in San Diego was the briefest of any team he played for throughout his career, but it was arguably the most memorable. In a Sep. 23 game against the Rockies, Bradley tore his ACL after manager Bud Black had to restrain him when Bradley tried going after first base umpire Mike Winters. After just 42 games, Bradley’s career was over. Not only that, but the Padres would lose the dramatic one-game playoff to the Rockies after the Bradley injury.
Bradley signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers after the 07 season. It was in 2008 when Bradley put together the greatest season of his career. He hit .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI as he was chosen to his first and only All-Star Game.
In 2009, Bradley signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. He certainly didn’t make any friends within the friendly confines. One of the memorable moments was when Bradley caught a fly ball and flipped the ball into the stands thinking the side had been retired. However, it was only the second out and both of Minnesota’s baserunners were allowed to advance two bases. He also made comments on how it wasn’t a surprise that the Cubs hadn’t won in 100 years and that he felt uncomfortable just playing for the Cubs. Bradley was one-and-done in Chicago, as they shipped him off to Seattle for Carlos Silva.
Bradley’s time in Seattle was far from glamorous. In 101 games with the Mariners, Bradley hit just .209 with 10 homers and 42 RBI. The Mariners released Bradley on May 16, 2011.
That was the end of Bradley’s MLB career, but not the end of his news making career. Just this January, Bradley was charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism and dissuading a witness from making a report. If he is found guilty, he could face up to 13 years in prison.
Thus ends the sad tale of Milton Bradley. He was a player with an enormous amount of potential, but his temper got the best of him too much.
Photo: Associated Press