Alex Harkaway – For the Review. “And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here.”
This comment, regarding Chicago’s “Lovable Losers,” the Cubs, is something one would expect from a frustrated fan or an angry blogger. Such a statement would never in 100 years be uttered by a Cubs player. Then along came Milton Bradley.
Before the Cubs signed Bradley last winter, they knew he had a troublesome past, to say the least. He has been suspended on multiple occasions for behavioral issues and has instigated nasty confrontations with coaches, umpires and reporters alike. He was even ordered to undergo anger management counseling in 2004 after charging at a fan in the stands.
In other words, Bradley makes Ron Artest look like Gandhi. And yet, the Cubs still considered it prudent to guarantee Bradley $30 million over three years to play for their franchise. Now they have to deal with their latest mistake.
His quote, which appeared in Chicago’s Daily Herald, is sure to enrage every Cubs fan on the planet.
In the interview, he was asked if he had enjoyed his time in Chicago so far. He replied, “Not really,” and then added, “It’s just not a positive environment.” He then went on to place blame on the fans, the media and even the Cubs’ organization. The Cubs promptly responded by suspending Bradley for the remainder of the season.
They are going to have to do better than that. Chicago now needs to send a message and release Bradley from his contract, cost be damned.
No one who has watched him play can deny that Bradley is talented. Last year, he led the American League in on-base percentage and was one of the most feared sluggers in the Senior Circuit. This is what persuaded the Cubs to promise him so much money. However, this is not enough for any sane team to consider trading for him.
His latest comments, combined with his obtrusive contract and history of bad behavior, are enough to make Bradley completely untradeable.
It is time for the Cubs to swallow their pride (and the remaining $20 million they owe him), admit their mistake and cut Bradley loose.
This is a franchise that has already endured the Billy Goat Curse for more than 60 years. It has suffered through the Steve Bartman incident and Mike Ditka’s singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” It has put its fans through enough frustration and heartbreak. Did the Cubs really think that signing Bradley would put an end to this pain?
We are living in an era in which many teams will no longer put up with troublesome athletes for the sake of gaudy statistics. It is time the Cubs jump on the bandwagon and evaluate their next big free agent on character instead of just performance.
Although it will take far more than one move to give this franchise a shot at breaking the Billy Goat Curse and winning it all, at least getting rid of Bradley will make them lovable again.