Gaming Milton Bradley

Have you ever lost out on a big contract when your price and service were clearly better than the competition, but the buyer had a grudge against your old management? Whether in the business world or a myriad of other venues, fairness and logic are often trumped by emotional bias.

Milton Bradley is an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, who signed a three year $30 million contract during the off-season. He is having an awful season, batting 80 points less than last year.

I have watched a lot of Cub games this season and observed Bradley’s batting closely. One of the main reasons his stats are way down is that the umpires have it in for him at the plate, so he often finds himself at the pitcher’s mercy in unfavorable 0-2 and 1-2 counts.

I would argue that the reason the umps are abusing him is his career-long behavior on the field. Bradley acts like a bush leaguer when batting, often dropping his bat in disgust or disdainfully flipping it when he strikes out. He is a classless act, but the reality is that these days he is being discriminated against by virtually every ump in the game. My question is, should an ump or referee discriminate against a jerk, or does a jerk still deserve the same treatment as a polite “ambassador of the game” like Derek Jeter?

Every sport has its unwritten rules which are enforced by the players, managers and umps. In baseball, if a pitcher hits or knocks down the star player of the opposing team a quid pro quo will soon follow. If it is done “professionally” the umps will generally ignore it. But a Milton Bradley “bad strike rule,” which happens at most to one player a year, is a tougher call.

I saw the “bad strike” unwritten rule go against the great Robbie Alomar, a potential Hall of Fame second basemen. He spit in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, after Hirschbeck allegedly called him gay during their argument. Alomar’s career went into steep decline after that incident.

Frank Thomas, the fantastic homer hitting first baseman/DH for the Chicago White Sox, supposedly showed up the umps and got the “treatment” for a season.

I ask you, is it fair? Does a person’s attitude, his long-term reputation as a miserable pain in the neck, justify blatant discrimination? Is it fair in this case to the Chicago Cubs or their fans?

We all know life is unfair. A proud and petulant Milton Bradley seemingly never gets a break at the plate. It may hurt is career—but should it?

How would YOU call the close ones on Milton Bradley?

Watch a bad call

Share this post

15 thoughts on “Gaming Milton Bradley

  1. Charlie Kerr

    There are two versions of the strike zone every baseball player, hitters and pitchers alike must be aware of; the strike zone as explained in the rules book and the strike zone as seen through the eyes of the umpires. Very few if any umpires see the strike zone as a perfectly symmetrical geometric shape. The strike zone in the eyes of the umpires is like snowflakes in that no two are exactly alike. Part of hitting and pitching strategy is knowing what an umpire will or will not call a strike.

    The STIKE ZONE is defined by the Official Baseball Rules as “that space over Home Plate which is between the batter’s armpits and the top of his knees when he assumes his natural stance. The umpire shall determine the STRIKE ZONE according to the batter’s usual stance when he swings at a pitch.”

    I watched the video of Milton Bradley. If you freeze the frame at 8 seconds, you see the catcher’s glove is “framed” right on the outside edge of the plate. This is a technique used to create the illusion the ball passed through the strike zone when it might not have. All the ball has to do is intersect any part of the plate. It looks like this pitch broke down and may have actually passed over the back corner. If it didn’t the catcher did a decent job of framing the pitch.

    Bradley is a crybaby, but I do not think the umpires are targeting him. Baseball is a game of failure and Milton Bradley is not mature enough to deal with it.

  2. Steven Horn

    Mr. Bradley should work on his manners at the plate. You can tell by the look in his eyes that he was just taken to the cleaners. Looks to me like a ball way outside. I suppose this is the way the umpires take care of the problem children in the league. If he wasn’t a jerk this wouldn’t be happening to him. Good for the Umps. You have to play nice to stay in the sandbox! Something that he has yet to learn. To bad for the Cubs: Go Twins!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Rob Klauber

    Does that mean the umps didn’t have it in for him last year? I don’t buy it. He’s having a bad year and maybe the 30 mil contributes to that as in

    Take the money and don’t run as hard.

  4. Emily

    I don’t know much about baseball, but in the work world playing nice matters. There’s no doubt in my mind when faced with the choice between two professionals, the sincerely nice one will get a chance almost every time. Few people are willing to put up with bad behavior for long…

  5. Noah

    Interesting Frag. Are you formally accusing the umps of racism?

    You usually don’t hear stuff like that, especially because MLB is so diverse. But who knows. Maybe Bradley being an A-hole who happens to be Black makes the umps more sensitive than a white guy would.

  6. Bob Jones

    Interesting thought, but one problem: that pitch was a strike. I used to log pitches for a major sports statistical company, and my first day I was told, the camera is not straight on the plate. If you pause when the ball crosses the plate, you need to adjust slightly to the right. On the pitch above, if you pause the video at the appropriate time, you will see the pitch is a strike. Of course, because the catcher was set up so far inside, it looks like a ball, because he had to reach across the plate.
    But putting that aside, you can probably find every player getting “squeezed” by an umpire at one time or another. Umpires aren’t perfect, so they do make mistakes at time. Presenting one video clip as evidence of your thesis is not good enough. Show me 10-15 actual missed calls over a period of a month or so, and than perhaps the thesis will hold up.

  7. Bill

    It looked like a strike to me. It doesn’t matter where the catcher is positioned behind the plate it’s where the ball crosses the plate. I would have called it a strike too.

  8. frag

    The guy certainly has baggage but . the umps are paid to be impartial. The game is not about them. You see the refs take over games in football when they could call holding on every play but pick and choose when to blow the whistle. In the NBA you get the Jordan rules which are different than the Ron Artest rules. There may be parallel to the Henry Louis Gates case which Obama injected himself into. This also makes one consider the racial component with the umps being mostly white and Bradley a surly African American Life would be simpler if they just called them straight instead of injecting themselves so blatantly into the game.

  9. Rich

    The pitch was right on the outside of the plate(looks like a strike to me) even though the catcher set up for a inside pitch. The umpire made his call on a close pitch that was well framed by the catcher. I have seen worse calls for all kinds of different players. Milton and the Cubs need to quit crying and play ball.

    Frag you are a idiot for even thinking that this is a racial issue.

  10. Noah

    To Bob Jones— Yes. We only put that one clip up. But that is just one of many many. At least that at bat he didn’t strike out. He hit a sac fly.

    The funny thing is, bradley still has the second highest onbase percentage on the team at 380 or so, which is pretty respectable throughout the league. Of course last year I’m pretty sure it was over 400.

    He’s not getting good calls. But he’s also hitting like (*&()&)(*&! 🙂

  11. Larry A

    I’m a lifelong baseball fan. I have my favorite team and players, but I love the game more than anything. I especially like watching team and players who love the game. I’ve seen a great many minor league games and to see what a player has to endure for years just to make it to the show is discouraging. Players have to endure years of low pay, long hours, hard work and most of the year away from family. If you’re single, it’s a lot easier. For a married man, it would be more than I could bear.

    I don’t begrudge the guys who actually make it and get the big bucks. Theyve earned it. However, to do it with serious attitude is uncalled for. We fans like our heroes and would like to see them do it with style. Our kids are watching them and should learn to take loses is stride rather than with attitude. Life is full of loss, unfairness and generally raw deals. I’d like to see my kids grow up learning to take their lumps and learn from them rather than hating the world for every raw deal that ever comes their way.

    Bottom line….players with bad attitudes should be dealt with in some way or another. If the management of a team will not deal with them, then perhaps it should be the umpires. It’s just unfortunate that a whole team has to pay the price for the attitude of a single player, but such is the world. It works that way in our business world too. I won’t say that it is right or wrong for the umpires to treat a certain player unfairly, but we all know it happens. How that player copes with the situation is entirely up to him.

    In the major leagues, it is whether you win or lose that counts. However, it still matters how you play the game. Do it with style or at least without attitude or suffer the consequences of your actions. I see no reason the major league world should operate any different than the rest of the world.

  12. Mal Content

    When the Cubs signed Milton Bradley they bought a chronic toothache. The guy’s body of work over his career includes more blow ups than the Goodyear Blimp. The team does not have the clubhouse leadership to control his outbursts. They should have dumped him at the trading deadline for a prospect or two and a bag of fungo bats.

  13. Mr. Beef

    The Cubs should pay Milton Bradley with Monopoly money. Pay him $200 when he passes go and then cut him. In business the first loss is often the best loss.

  14. Jim C.

    Are you kidding me Lloyd? If Bradley would step up the plate, he wouldn’t have to reach so far. The catcher can shift his position all he wants, but it shouldn’t alter the call. That ball was cleary over the left side of the bag.

  15. Trashcup

    Give me a break – a guy signs a contract and is making $30,000,000 and now it’s crybaby time? Get real. Time to man-up and play baseball. Umps make bad calls every game. So what? Play the game and quit complaining.


Comments are closed.