Pity Milton Bradley. For a soul so troubled his entire career to end up playing in the most miserable baseball city in the league seems like nothing but bad mojo. Back on May 4th, Mariners skipper Don "Waka" Wakamatsu, sensing that Milton was emotionally coming apart at the seams, pulled him from the game. Bradley immediately packed up his gear, left the clubhouse, and sped home.
Since that point, Bradley was put on the team's restricted list as he tried to sort through his emotional distress. He sought counseling for suicidal thoughts, and although he's returning to the Mariners now, he'll continue to get the professional help he needs and so many others shun (cough cough Papelbon cough).
Bradley sat down with Mariners beat writer and fellow sad-sack Geoff Baker for a one-on-one interview in which Bradley revealed what happened the night he hightailed it outta Safeco:
"I got home and my heart was pounding," Bradley said. "It was just one thing after another that night. I couldn't get it to stop. I felt like I'd been down this road before, where everything keeps happening and leads to something else and you can't control it. I just wanted it to stop."
For the first time, Bradley knew that wishing his problems away wasn't going to solve anything. He needed to get away from baseball and find a professional to confide in about the anxiety that tightened his chest and crept into his voice with alarming frequency.
"When you start feeling that the only way you can end it is to kill yourself, that's not a healthy feeling," Bradley said. "So, I needed to get away, to step back for a bit. There are too many people I care about in this world to let things go down that road."
It's a great interview and we must salute Geoff Baker for being perhaps the only journo around who could properly commiserate with an emotionally disturbed star. But my favorite nugget from the hourlong chit-chat was this:
One of his fondest memories as a ballplayer comes from the 2008 All-Star Game, when Bradley met Derek Jeter. Soon after, out on the field for the Home Run Derby, he felt his cellphone vibrating in his pocket.
"I answer it and it's Jeter," he said. "He was calling and personally inviting me to this party he was having afterward. He's like 'So, you going to come?'
"That was cool," Bradley said. "I mean, he might have been calling everybody, but he made me feel like the most special person in the world."