Yes, yes...I know. Milton Bradley is gone and good riddance. Why must we ever speak of him again? I don't know. Why do people feel the need to look at train wrecks? Why do people watch soap operas and read tabloids? Despite ourselves, we can't avert our eyes. And no matter how much we're glad he's gone, the intrigue of Bradley's personality and his surrounding environment is difficult to ignore. It isn't even a week into the season in Seattle and we are seeing the same cycle repeat itself. Seattle has been going through the same song and dance that the Cubs did -- and continues to do -- as we speak. I'm quoting Seattle GM Jack Zdurencik and Manager Don Wakamatsu throughout this post (as well as Seattle baseball writers), but you'd be hard pressed to find much difference between what they have said and what Hendry and Piniella said at similar points last season.
The Milton Bradley Steps are all too eerily familiar...
1. He's the hitter we need - This stage revolves around Milton Bradley's on-the-field skills, particularly at the plate.
"We were in search of a middle-of-the-lineup guy for quite some time," (Seattle GM Jack) Zduriencik said.
2. He's not such a bad guy, he's just misunderstood. - Every team that acquires Bradley claims to have looked into his background and seem to come to the conclusion that he's okay.
From The Oregonian's Aaron Fentress: Seattle's GM characterized Bradley's fire as a passion to win. He said he got nothing but good reports on Bradley going back his minor-league career a decade ago. Zduriencik specifically relied upon the input from two former coaches of Bradley: current Mariners bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, who was with Bradley in Oakland in 2007, and performance coach Steve Hecht, who had the outfielder in Texas in 2008.
3. This time it will be different.
"It's a new day, new way for this guy. What we know is that he is a good person, that he is a very intelligent guy, that he has a strong desire to win" Zduriencik said.
4. Bradley professes love for his new city and team
Again, from Fentriss: Zduriencik said Bradley told him Friday morning, "When I saw the Seattle thing I said, 'OK, this would be fun.He realizes where we're headed here, and he wants to be a part of it"
5. The Trouble Starts
As you are probably aware, Milton Bradley has been ejected from 2 spring training games and recently gave some Texas fan the bird. He is also off to a 1-22 start. Coincidentally, he started 1-25 with the Cubs.
6. The enablement: It's not his fault.
"To me, it's almost like a witch hunt," Wakamatsu said. "It's almost embarrassing to me that egos get in the way and [Bradley] doesn't even get a chance."
...which is sometimes combined with...
7. Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil
From Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times regarding Bradley's alleged gesture toward a Texas fan: I asked manager Don Wakamatsu about it this morning. He said he hadn't seen a video of the incident, but would speak to Bradley about it once he did. GM Jack Zduriencik, when shown the photo, said he had no comment.
8. The excuses
From Jim Street of MLB.com: Wakamatsu thinks Bradley is trying too hard, putting pressure on himself to carry the team, which lost five of the seven games on the road trip.
From Baker: The bottom line is, Bradley is being constantly baited by the fans in these opening games.
9. The Band-Aid Solution
Again from MLB.com's Street: In a move that might reduce some of the self-imposed pressure Milton Bradley has been experiencing, manager Don Wakamatsu dropped the struggling switch-hitter down a few notches in the lineup for Monday afternoon's regular-season home opener against the Athletics.
10. The False Hope
"We talked a lot about him relying on us to alleviate some of that pressure he's putting himself," Wakamatsu said. "I think he is starting to trust people in this clubhouse and he'll be fine."
There are two steps left...
11. The Last Straw and the Unceremonious Dumping...
The Cubs dumped Milton Bradley for a guy Seattle was so eager to get rid of, Carlos Silva, that they even pitched in $9M to seal the deal. That's a net gain of $5M for the Cubs. How long before Seattle pulls the plug and finds a sucker...er..taker for Bradley.
12. The Truth Comes Out.
Haven't heard the honest truth (yet) from Seattle but since the steps and quotes are so similar anyway, here's one from Jim Hendry to give you a sneak preview of what's to come from Seattle...
"It's time for Milton Bradley to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for his unsuccessful season."
It's only April but Seattle is almost near the end of the Milton Bradley Cycle. But the allure of Milton Bradley's numbers and promise; coupled with human nature and it's compulsion to forgive and believe that they can be the ones to "fix" him and provide him with a better home, may just mean the cycle is doomed to repeat itself. One thing for sure, we'll probably still keep watching.