More Games By Milton Bradley

Padres manager Bud Black restrains Milton BradleyNo doubt you heard about the latest games being played by Milton Bradley. As if it weren’t bad enough that his team was being wiped out of the Wild Card by being swept at home at the hands of the Colorado Rockies, and as if it weren’t bad enough his big feet knocked teammate Mike Cameron out of the game, Milton Bradley had to have a meltdown with an umpire, get kicked out of a game, likely suspended, and in the process injured his knee while being wrestled to the ground by his manager Bud Black.

But that’s not all. In this latest episode in the drama that is Bradley’s life gets even nuttier — his manager, his first-base coach, and the Padres General Manager are all blaming umpire Mike Winters for the incident.

The situation as reported by the North County Times (I’ve taken the liberty to bold some of the more questionable details):

The incident started in the fifth inning when Bradley was called out on strikes by home-plate umpire Brian Runge. Runge told The Associated Press that Bradley “flipped the bat right in front of me, about 5-10 feet from me.”

When Bradley came to bat in the eighth, Runge questioned Bradley about the bat toss.

“I asked him if he had thrown the bat at me the time before,” Runge said. “He said ‘No.’ I told him I didn’t think he did.

“(Bradley) said, ‘Did (Winters) tell you that I threw at you?’ (Bradley) started to point at Mike.

“I said ‘No, no.’ I then threw my hands up and told him to calm down.”

When Bradley reached first base after lining a single to center, he confronted Winters.

“I asked the first-base umpire if he said I had thrown my bat, and he said he did,” Bradley said. “I asked him why, and he started yapping at me.

“Then someone in the crowd yelled ‘You suck’ to the umpire, and I pointed at him (the fan).

“That’s when (Winters) called me a (multiple-word expletive). He kept talking. Meacham was right there. It was ludicrous.

“I went after (Winters), but I didn’t want to hurt him. The crowd was loud by this point, so I went up to him so he could hear me.

“He should be reprimanded for this.”

After the game, the mild-mannered Meacham was as upset with Winters as Bradley.

“In 26 years in the game, I can honestly say that was the most disconcerting conversation I’ve heard between an umpire and player,” Meacham said. “It was so bizarre.

“I can’t tell you the umpire’s exact words, but it was something like ‘You play, and I’ll umpire.’ It was like he was trying to agitate Milton.

“But I can tell you, Winters absolutely used foul language. The way he spoke to Milton was so angry and vindictive.

“It got to the boiling point when he called Milton a name. That’s when I stepped on the field. His tone was so angry and ridiculous. It smacked of racism.

Milton did a great job of holding it together.

Meacham said that when the umpires got together to discuss the situation “Winters lied” about what happened.

“Todd Helton (the Rockies’ first baseman) is the only one not involved who knows what happened,” Meacham said.

Tracked down in the family room deep in the bowels of Petco Park, Helton was cautious.

“I know I’m the impartial third party here, but I don’t want to get in the middle of it,” Helton said. “Let’s just say, it was a very interesting situation.”

Bruce Froemming the second-base umpire Sunday and the crew chief, who is retiring after 37 years in the game and was honored by the Padres before the game, refused to make Winters available to the media.

“(Bradley) got grumpy with Mike Winters,” Froemming said. “He has been around a long time. Winters told him to knock it off, and he continued it.

“There is no covering up what (Bradley) did. He had to be physically restrained. We’re not going to put up with it.

“If he wants to talk, we’ll talk.”

The same incident, from another point of view; this from the Press-Enterprise:

“I have never hurt nobody,” he said. “When does the harping on me stop? All I do is go out there and try to play baseball hard. I think I’ve done everything in my power to do things the right way.

“He’s going to file a report. If he tries to say that I did anything wrong whatsoever, it’s completely ludicrous. Now because of him, my knee’s hurt. If he costs me my season because of that, he needs to be reprimanded.

“I’m going to take some action. I’m not going to stand pat and accept this because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Bradley said.

Padres CEO Sandy Alderson used to work in the commissioner’s office, where one of his duties was overseeing umpires.

We’re not going to sit by and see an umpire bait a player,” Alderson said. He added that if the commissioner’s office concludes the situation was handled appropriately, “I’ll be shocked.”

First base coach Bobby Meacham said Winters provoked the fracas.

“They way he responded was so bizarre,” Meacham said of Winters. “I can’t tell you exactly the words he said, but it was like ‘Hey you just play baseball and I’ll umpire.’ It was almost like he wanted to agitate Milton.”

Meacham said Winters cursed at Bradley.

“I was just appalled. That’s why the game stopped,” Meacham said. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”

Meacham said the language was not racial, but “the whole tone angered me so much, like I’ve never been angered in 26 years (of baseball). It was ridiculous and unfair.”

Bradley had to be helped off the field. He was to be examined Sunday night and was expected to join the team today in San Francisco.

Black wouldn’t discuss what he said to the umpires.

“We’re trying to win ballgames and when guys are passionate about their play sometimes you see arguments and you see passion shown on the field,” Black said.

Here’s one more, from SignOnSanDiego:

Then, shortly after Bradley arrived at first base via a single, he and Winters were exchanging barbs that, according to Padres first-base coach Bobby Meacham, were inflammatory on the umpire’s part.

Bradley said Winters called him “a (expletive) piece of (expletive).”

Said Meacham: “In my 26 years of baseball, that was the most disconcerting conversation I have heard from an umpire to a player. The way Winters responded was bizarre. It was almost like he wanted to agitate the situation.

“I was appalled. That’s why the game stopped.”

Meacham moved toward the foul line and turned toward Winters from the distance of about 10 feet.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Meacham. “Milton did not use foul language. The umpire, absolutely. He called Milton a name (apparently after Bradley had pointed in the direction of a fan who was booing Winters). That’s when I stepped on the field and said, ‘You cannot do that.’

“Even before that, I was saying this is wrong, this is ridiculous. The name that Winters called Milton, had he said it to me, I would have rushed him. No one is going to take that.”

Asked whether what Winters said had racial overtones, Meacham, who, like Bradley, is black, replied, “It smacked of that tone.”

After reading these rundowns on the events of Sunday afternoon in San Diego, I don’t know where to begin in trying to understand the insanity. And what’s more bizarre — Bradley’s blowup, Meacham’s support of Bradley, Bud Black’s support of Bradley, or Alderson’s hinted support of Bradley? Or is the racism / not racism issue the most bizarre?

Maybe I’m crazy, but it appears to me that the San Diego Padres’ management has gotten sucked into Milton Bradley’s warped sense of reality. They appear to agree that Bradley was “baited” by the umpire. Apparently, throwing a bat in the vicinity of the home plate umpire after striking out is “OK”. Apparently, mouthing off about the issue two innings later to the first base umpire is also “OK”. Apparently, listening to the fans in the stands rather than focusing on the game is “OK”. And apparently, completely losing your cool to run after an umpire is “OK” as well (as long as you “don’t want to hurt him”, but merely want to make sure he can hear you).

It’s amazing how a player’s batting average and homerun prowess can turn an entire organization’s morals go off the deep end. How a team can take on an individual’s personality, and insulate themselves from the pain of failure by simply blaming others, and removing their own responsibility from a situation. Heck, there’s even some evidence that San Diego has bought into Bradley’s lifelong paranoia about racism, and that the whole world is against him — though the articles cited seem to be conflicted about whether Bobby Meacham felt Mike Winters was being racist or not. (I, for one, am having a hard time trying to find the racism in calling someone a “f**king piece of sh*t”. But what do I know … people don’t say things like that to me. Further, Meacham might need a hearing aid — I heard plenty of foul language from Bradley on the replay on MLB TV. Oh, wait, maybe he meant Winters was speaking while standing in foul territory?)

Does the San Diego Padre organization realize how ridiculous it looks right now? That the entire team looks like a bunch of infants to the rest of the world? Anyone who watches the video of the game can see very clearly that Milton Bradley started the incident. He rapped a base hit up the middle and then immediately badgered Mike Winters. A video close-up of Bradley taking his lead easily caught a string of expletives that the worst lip-reader could figure out. Maybe at that point Winters was jawing at him, but that didn’t mean Bradley had to respond. Had Bradley been focusing on the game, rather than at what Winters was (or wasn’t) saying, he’d have taken second base easily on a pitch in the dirt to Josh Bard, but he was too busy carrying on his conversation.

It’s absolutely possible that Mike Winters lost his cool. Most of the time, I am in agreement with the idea that umpires have too-large egos lately, and that they bark too much with the players, and that they shouldn’t be noticed by the spectators. However, in this instance, you can’t give Winters all the blame (if any at all). It wasn’t Winters who struck out a few innings before, and it wasn’t Winters who threw the bat toward home plate umpire Brian Runge. And it wasn’t Winters who held the bat-throwing incident bottled up for two innings, and it wasn’t Winters who initiated the conversation between the two. No, in all those cases it was Bradley, who once again can’t comprehend why the rules that apply to everyone else in MLB must apply to him as well. Why can’t MLB simply ignore the rules when it comes to Bradley? Doesn’t big, bad, white MLB know that Milton has special needs, and should be treated differently? It’s just not fair!

Sadly, the Padres think they are doing a favor for their slugger by supporting him. Nothing could be further from the truth. By supporting Milton Bradley’s loss of control, they are vindicating him and his infantile view of the world that he thinks revolves around him. The Padres agree: the rules apply to everyone else, but not to Milton Bradley.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Brad September 24, 2007 at 4:06 pm
    I think you’re taking a fairly one-sided perspective on the issue here, and as probably the only San Diego reader of this blog, I feel compelled to throw some alternate viewpoints in there 🙂

    Firstly, I loathe Milton Bradley. I truly hate that he’s on my team. I love what he’s done at the plate, but he’s a guy who likes to be loud and likes to gloat, and thats just not my style. Also, apparently he thinks beating his wife in the offseason is the way to keep in shape (which, if nothing else, his propensity for injuries tells us is not a good idea).

    Having said that, it’s worth noting that if causal guys like me really dislike him, imagine the rest of the league. Bradley’s shit is tolerated by teams a lot, and he’s pretty much been a good boy so far on the Padres. Keep in mind that this is a team with Trevor Hoffman and Greg fucking Maddux – this is a team with tons of character and leadership in the lockerroom. Anyway, from what I hear, he’s been a good boy and has tried to turn it around.

    So, last night’s game. There is absolutely no excuse for a player putting his own pride and arrogance over his team (at the most crucial moment of the season, no less) and going after Winters. I can think of virtually nothing that an ump could say that would warrant Bradley getting in his face like he did.

    BUT – Lets be fair here. Before you are so unnecessarily quick to become a hater of Bobby Meacham, Bud Black and the entire Padres organization here – give them a chance.

    Do you really think that all of these people made up this whole conspiracy to protect Milton Bradley’s image? What in the universe kind of galactic power could help his image?

    If it had been just Bradley there (suppose at second base or something, maybe at the plate), I would have a much less muggy picture of the situation. But Meacham’s record of what happened is pretty convincing:

    From the SD Union Tribune:

    [quote]
    Said Meacham: “In my 26 years of baseball, that was the most disconcerting conversation I have heard from an umpire to a player. The way Winters responded was bizarre. It was almost like he wanted to agitate the situation.

    Meacham moved toward the foul line and turned toward Winters from the distance of about 10 feet.

    “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Meacham. “Milton did not use foul language. The umpire, absolutely. He called Milton a name (apparently after Bradley had pointed in the direction of a fan who was booing Winters). That’s when I stepped on the field and said, ‘You cannot do that.’

    “Even before that, I was saying this is wrong, this is ridiculous. The name that Winters called Milton, had he said it to me, I would have rushed him. No one is going to take that.”
    “I was appalled. That’s why the game stopped.”

    [/quote]

    Meacham’s record of what happened paints a pretty clear picture that Winters’ conduct was pretty damned inappropriate.

    Does that mean that Milton was right to get in his face? No, No, No, and No a hundred more times. But I feel your post is unfairly one-sided and discounts the credibility of too many people. I’m forced to wonder if you feel wronged by the Padres in some way, because you’re essentially calling Black, Bradley and Meacham all liars for no real reason that I can see.

    To be sure, theres more than one person who was wrong in this situation. I’d suggest you maybe look at the situation from something other than such a decidedly anti-San Diego perspective. Bradley’s a hotheaded idiot, but it sure seems like there was more to it than that.

  2. joe September 24, 2007 at 4:32 pm
    Hey Brad, thanks for the alternative viewpoint.

    I will agree that this post was entirely one-sided; it was intentional.

    No, I’m not calling the Padres, Black, and Meacham liars — I do however believe that their view of reality has been warped because Bradley has hit them into the Wild Card race. And that’s too bad, because it sets a bad example for kids and it justifies Bradley’s continued out-of-control behavior. This is a guy who has continually had problems with society’s rules, and has major emotional and mental issues, yet instead of getting help, he is further hurt.

    Bradley, on the other hand, I DO call a liar, based on his statement “I didn’t want to hurt him, I just wanted to get closer to him so he could hear me.” I really doubt he only wanted to be heard, based on the way Bud Black had to keep him away.

    I’m not anti-Padres, in fact, I have a very objective point of view seated on the East Coast, totally removed from the situation. The Padres mean little to me one way or the other. So no, I don’t feel wronged in any way by the Padres, and hold no prior judgments of the organization.

    Meacham’s comments are not a “pretty clear picture”. They are the comments of one person whose allegiance is to the perpetrator. I’m watching the video of Bradley right now and can see him mouthing f-bombs like there’s no tomorrow while he’s leading off first — but Meacham claims Bradley “did not use foul language”. What?

    Here’s a possibility: maybe Meacham was so focused on THE GAME — i.e., the pitcher’s move, the situation, etc. — that he blocked out Bradley’s expletives. Maybe if Bradley had been focusing on the game as well, none of this ever would have happened.

    Was Winters in the right for continuing the conversation? Probably not — but the only one who really knows is Todd Helton. The point is, there never should have been a conversation. As stated in my article, Winters wasn’t the one who made a scene and threw his bat in a fit of rage after striking out — this was a situation created by Milton Bradley’s inability to control himself. But everyone on Bradley’s side is losing sight of that fact, and removing the fact that Bradley is responsible for his own actions.

    I’m an old-school guy … so I don’t have much patience for players who openly berate umpires, bark about calls, and make animated displays to show up the umps (including my own team … for example I HATE when Paul LoDuca does his little whiney act on balls and strikes). It doesn’t help the team, and it is the mark of a selfish player. So you’ll have a hard time convincing me that Winters was the reason for Bradley’s meltdown.

    I do, however, apologize for making it seem like I had something against the San Diego Padre organization. I only call ’em as I see ’em — and in this case I see sour grapes. The entire situation could have easily been avoided had Bradley focused on playing baseball, rather than whether or not this ump said that to the other ump. The more I read about the incident the more it sounds more like high school girls than MLB.

  3. isuzudude September 24, 2007 at 4:53 pm
    Bud Black should join the UFC. His powerslam take down of a guy almost half his age was mighty impressive.
  4. joe September 24, 2007 at 6:04 pm
    And twice his size!
  5. Brad September 24, 2007 at 8:04 pm
    Thanks for the thorough reply.

    I’ll concede that, like any other team, Meacham will have a bias towards Bradley. But to think that all he has said to the media is totally false is a step I just can’t take. I have to believe that at some point in the conversation (which I agree shouldn’t have happened in the first place) said something inappropriate. Milton has his lead off of first base ready to play the game and then turns around randomly – it doesn’t make sense that he’d turn around unless there was a single thing that was said.

    Another issue – did you see him make a scene when he “threw his bat in a fit of rage after striking out” ? I didn’t see that happen at all, and apparently the home plate umpire didn’t see it either, because he was told by first base ump that it happened.

    At this point, since everybody’s trustworthiness is in question, I don’t want to believe that he “made a scene and threw his bat in a fit of rage” when nobody saw it. Hell, the Padres announcers are generally fair and regularly point out Milton’s flares – if it was as egregious as described, I think we would have seen something.

    Theres been a lot of discussion on Gaslampball comments about this, and Helton was brought up. Interestingly, if he’s smart he wont’ say anything to the media and will instead tell his story to the commissioner (if Selig has the balls to even care about this kind of incident anymore). Hopefully what really happened will be reflected in punishments.

    For Bradley, apparently it’s the same old Bradley. He put himself above the team and really screwed his team for it. I’m not saying he was provoked, but certainly I think that the umpire acted out of line (assuming you can believe at least some of the what the Padres have said). Of course, players on the field shouldn’t be quite so excitable (or anywhere near Bradley’s antics).

    Either way, it’s a pretty sorry situation. I’m sad to see that Bradley lost his cool in such a downright stupid in inexcusable fashion. Up until now, his small antics like reacting to Philly fans booing him and what not were pretty minimal. As I said, I’m no Bradley fan, but he was building a case that he could try to come back and be a level headed guy. Last night, he really lit that hole thing on fire.

  6. joe September 24, 2007 at 9:17 pm
    Brad, thanks for coming back with another reply. This is good stuff.

    Again, I’m not calling Meacham a liar — but I do believe he may have missed some of Bradley’s part of the conversation. And from the video, I clearly see Bradley call Winters over — it occurred immediately after he rounded first, and before they cut to the “Coors Cold Blast”. Winters was standing in his usual spot, a good 10 feet or so behind the bag, and Bradley called him over. When they had initial words, it didn’t look like Winters said anything to incite a riot, and walked away calmly. As Winters backed away, you could see Bradley’s mouth running a mile a minute, no doubt in earshot of Winters (who should NOT have had rabbits’ ears, but apparently did).

    Maybe I’m wrong about the thrown bat — but then why did it become such an issue? Why in the world is Bradley questioning Winters about what he’s saying to Runge? Who cares? It “smacks” of severe paranoia.

    As for the Padres announcers, god bless them I think they’re great but I think it’s absolutely possible they missed something after the Bradley strikeout. After all, they originally surmised that Bradley was having words with Helton. That’s not a knock on them, because after all they’re way up in the booth and can’t see/hear everything — merely pointing out that it’s entirely possible they missed something.

    Anyway, I do have to agree — a sad and sorry situation. Not the kind of thing you want to see at a ballgame. The crazy thing is, Bradley’s what? a .270 career hitter? Not even 90 career HRs? Why does team after team put up with him like he has Manny Ramirez talent?

    My sincerest respects to you and all Padres fans. This is a terrible way for an otherwise fun season in San Diego to be concluding.

  7. Brad September 24, 2007 at 10:09 pm
    I agree that it is unlikely that Bradley wasn’t doing some degree of cursing (though, I admit that my opinion of the guy is in the gutter as it is). And certainly, that is a bit of a knock against Meacham’s gleaming description of Milton’s actions.

    The way I understand it was that Unge approached Milton during his at bat and started the obvious conversation with him. Apparently he asked him if he threw his bat at him (Winters told him that Bradley did in the previous inning). Even right there, I’m wondering why the home plate ump even bothered to “ask” Milton if he threw his bat. What the hell is any batter going to say – “Yes, Blue, I threw it at you but unfortunately it missed.” So, Milton being Milton instead of a “take one for the team” teammate, he quizzes Winters about it first chance he gets. He’s jarring away, and we figure it’s Milton so he’s probably cursing, so Winters curses back. What is this, High School homeroom? Were they going to take out rulers and drop their pants next? The whole thing stinks 🙂

    And you’re right, of course the Padres announcers could have missed something – yet more question marks on the situation 🙂 I personally don’t think Winter’s comments were racially motivated, but thats mainly because it is Bradley involved. To be sure, I don’t expect umpires (or anybody else) to tiptoe around Bradley because he’s a firecracker or anything like that. But certainly, if there is something that needs to be discussed between an umpire and player, there has got to be a better way to do it than bickering back and forth calling each other pieces of shit. I think we can all agree on that point, regardless of who started the cursing.

    As for Bradley’s statistics, he’s been awesome.

    As a Padre, Bradley hit .313 / .414 / .590 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 144 AB. Basically, he’s been on a total tear, far above his career numbers. I remember when we first acquired him, I thought that the negativity of his antics and attitude would outweigh his offensive production; surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. Obviously, his issue is being laughably prone to injury and straight up stupidity.

    Anyway, this has been somewhat cathartic. My thanks for the civil discourse, I always greatly appreciate the willingness of bloggers and writers to back up their posts by following up in the comments!

    And by the way, can I just say: thank Christ you guys don’t play the Phillies anymore! I’d rather see the Mets atop the NL East than the Phillies anyday 🙂

  8. joe September 24, 2007 at 11:37 pm
    Brad, thank YOU for posting. This would be a really, really, really boring blog if it were just my hot air being posted. If you notice there are no “One Way” signs on this site.

    You’re right — the whole thing stinks, including the behavior of both umps. Bleh.

    As far as the NL East goes, you can say that again. I just hope the Mets can lose less than the Phillies over the rest of this week. And if the Padres can somehow get past this debacle … well, it would be a nice pitcher of lemonade (something my second-grade teacher said about being handed lemons). Who knows, maybe the Bradley thing turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it will cause the other players to come together, and/or allow someone like Sledge, Mackowiak, or Brady Clark to come out of nowhere and get hot at just the right time. Stranger things have happened.

  9. Brad September 26, 2007 at 1:40 pm
    For the sake of following up, Winters was suspended for the rest of the season by MLB.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3037237

    This is in no way a vindication of anything Bradley did – he’s still responsible for acting like a goddam buffoon and hurting his team – but it is an indicator that Winters was not without some blame (unless you don’t believe MLB [a disbelief which, to be fair, wouldn’t exactly land you in an insane asylum]).

  10. joe September 26, 2007 at 2:16 pm
    Thanks for the update.

    We must wonder if MLB really investigated this issue with any kind of effort, or was this simply a savvy PR damage control move to put closure to the issue and bury it before it became a bigger mess?

    Whatever, who cares. As you and I agree, the entire situation stinks, from Runge to Bradley to Winters. Everyone loses.