Of all recent Major League baseball players, the one that I would be least surprised to hear got into trouble off the field is Milton Bradley and now he has lived up to my faith. The former Expo, Indian, Dodger, Athletic (deep breath), Padre, Ranger, Cub, and Mariner, is facing domestic violence charges that carry potential penalties that could lock him up for more than a decade.
Bradley, whose main defense to acting erratically around baseball teams during his 12-year career was that no one understood him, has denied mistreating and threatening his wife five times in 2011 and 2012. Lengthy misunderstanding. Bradley says she made it all up. Prosecutors have alleged that Bradley, who was arrested twice at his house for domestic incidents in 2011, kicked her in the ribs and threatened her with a baseball bat and knife and said he would kill her before giving her a divorce.
It was alleged that another time Bradley began choking her with his hands after she asked him not to smoke marijuana in front of the kids.
For anyone who has followed the arc of Bradley’s baseball career, which apparently ended in 2011 because no team has picked him up since his last hurrah with Seattle, hearing this kind of stuff is no huge shock.
Always seen as immensely talented, Bradley first ran into trouble in the minors when he started a fight that resulted in a seven-game suspension. While with the Indians Bradley was stopped for speeding, but refused to take the ticket and drove away. He was sentenced to three days in jail for this combination. With the Dodgers, Bradley got into a balls and strikes argument with an umpire and threw a tantrum, resulting in a four-game suspension. While with the Rangers Bradley was physically restrained from going to the press box to confront a Kansas City Royals broadcaster.
While with the Cubs in 2009 Bradley was suspended for making contact with an umpire, was thrown out of the park during a game by manager Lou Piniella for beating up a Gatorade container, and then exiled from the team from Sept. 20 on for publicly disparaging and insulting the organization. Milton and I were living in Chicago at the same time and yes, he was a distraction.
Somehow the Cubs suckered the Mariners into taking Bradley off their hands. A little more than a month into the 2010 season Bradley took himself out of a game, then asked the team for help and quietly underwent treatment for two weeks for an undisclosed health problem.
Throughout the years when he was actually on the field, Bradley batted .271. He made one All-Star team with the Rangers in 2008. He once hit more than 20 home runs in a season. He once drove in more than 70 runs.
It is estimated that Bradley collected $48 million in salary during his Major League career and that year by year as each team gave up on him and sent him out of town the next team paid him more and more. He went from $5.2 million with the Rangers to $7 million with the Cubs to $10 million with the Mariners the first year and $13 million with the Mariners in 2011. Tell me how bright owners are again.
Mr. and Mrs. Bradley are going through divorce proceedings. I don’t know how much is true of what she and the prosecutors allege about Bradley’s activities, but I’m rooting for Mrs. Bradley in this case.