When Gordon Wittenmyer wanted to interview Milton Bradley about a piece he was preparing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Bradley agreed. Wittenmyer was doing a piece set to run on April 15th, or Jackie Robinson Day, about how Bradley was going to deal with the supposedly racist crowds at Wrigley Field. In other words, Bradley was getting set up and baited into saying some crazy black man stuff that would sell papers. In the end, he didn't, but he later accused Wittenmyer of making up quotes. After a week where Bradley zipped his lips and refused to speak to any media, he opened up to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat:
"When I turn around and people are standing at my locker every time, I'm trying to figure out why, because I've already told them I don't want to talk," Bradley said. "That's the only thing -- I never had a problem with the media until I started reading stuff that wasn't what I said.
You can't fight City Hall, man. And you can't expect that every word and every sentence that fall out of your mouth are going to end up in the correct order on the page. Or even if the actual words make it to the page. What will end up on the page is your intent and your attitude. If you've got a chip on your shoulder, they're not going to write puff pieces about your community volunteerism. They're going to magnify every blowup and tear down every slump because that is their job and that is how they put dinner on the table. Look what the mass media did to Roger Maris, or Barry Bonds, or Jose Guillen. Wait, Jose Guillen did that to himself.
Any enemy of the blood-hungry tabloid media is a friend of mine. A certifiable antagonist before he even set foot on the field in Wrigley, Milton Bradley's unfriendly behavior in the friendly confines is the lifeblood of the sportswriter not just in Chicago, but everywhere. The sharks circle waiting for a talented but troubled slugger to bring his brand of crazy into town; it's almost as if the entire newspaper industry in Chicago pounced on Bradley as if he were some sort of newsprint savior. He's not. He's an outfielder. A talented, sometimes injured, pouting, confrontational, and irritable outfielder, but still just an outfielder. He's paid to play baseball, not to be an ambassador to the media or the fans.
But the media won't let go. Wittenmyer wrote an op-ed piece asking for a sit-down with Bradley. This line, however, belies every intention that drives someone paid to cover the greatest sport in one of the most tempestuous cities:
I have no axe to grind with Bradley. I'm certainly not hoping he fails - in fact, his success here would obviously be a great story.
It certainly would, Gordo.