I’m sure you’ve heard the story. Milton Bradley was removed from the game last night in the 6th inning, and was replaced for Ryan Langerhans. Usually that substitution would occur in the 9th inning, when the M’s are leading, and wanting to sure up the outfield defense. But that was not the case. It was the 6th inning and Seattle trailed 3-1. Hardly the time to remove your power threat from this anemic offense. The tweets began pouring in by Mariners reporters. Is Milton hurt? Is Wak sending a message? Now, it appears we have found out.
Per Mike Salk:
“The Mariners appear to have a serious problem. Milton Bradley left the team last night in the middle of the game. Bradley apparently left after striking out looking in the sixth inning with the bases loaded.
According to a source, Bradley yelled at the umpire from the bench before being told by Don Wakamatsu to cool it. Wakamatsu said that he would handle the umpire himself. Bradley responded that someone had to say something and that if Wak wouldn’t, then he would.
According to the source, a few minutes later Bradley walked back over to the skipper and said, ‘I’m packing my stuff. I’m out of here.’ And then he left.”
First of all, Milton had absolutely nothing to be arguing with the umpire about. He struck out on a pitch that was clearly a strike, right down the middle. But that’s not the issue. The issue is Milton walking out during the game. If that is true, he committed a cardinal sin, the ultimate act of selfishness in sports. He abandoned his teammates.
Seattle knew Milton’s baggage was part of the deal when he was acquired for Carlos Silva. They knew about his 8 teams in 10 years. They knew about the countless fits of rage, the turmoil he has created in clubhouse after clubhouse. But the Mariners also knew about his bat, his indisputable talent, and the numbers he put up just 2 years ago in Texas. Figuring Seattle could provide the bubble he needs to stay calm, along with Sweeney, Griffey, and Wakamatsu to counsel him through any rough spells, the M’s pulled the trigger on a deal that came with little risk, especially considering the sunk cost from Silva was all they had to give up.
But now, the crap is starting to hit the fan. The M’s are on a skid, and with losing often comes poor team chemistry and lots of frustration. But Milton’s past, and the present situation, are no excuse to walk out during the game, shortly after undermining his manager. I can’t understand a grown man, who at age 32 simply cannot get his act together. You’d think by his 3rd, 4th or 5th chance he might finally just shut up and play baseball. Instead, it appears Milton is back to his old habits, with his temper getting the best of him. I am sympathetic for Milton, despite the millions he makes and the countless chances he has had to change, because he needs help. None of us are perfect, and in fact quite the opposite. Born sinners, we all need help, but a spotlight does not shine bright on us as it does for Milton. I am pulling for him because he can really help this team. But his actions are inexcusable, no matter how much of a fiery competitor he is.
Something must be done if things played out the way Mike Salk has described. You can’t just stick Bradley in the lineup tonight and hope things get back to normal. His teammates don’t deserve that, and neither does Wak, who Milton greatly disrespected. Wak needs to step up and show that this team does not tolerate the kind of behavior he allegedly exhibited last night. Whether he does that by means of a suspension, which I think is most likely, or some other form of discipline. I suspect we have not seen the end of Milton in Seattle. The M’s would have to eat $27 million if they cut him. The first Milton blowup has occurred, to the surprise of no one, and now the M’s need to react before things get out of hand on the field, and off the field.