Yesterday, Out of the Ivy, a new Cubs blog that everyone in the world should read, caught a bit of local 670 The Score radio hosts Dan Bernstein and Matt Abbatacola's afternoon show. Abbatacola was filling in for Terry Boers, Bernstein's usual foil. The duo is hilarious and usually on the side of good, but yesterday, Abbatacola went on a bit of a mini-Cubs rant, which Out of the Ivy transcribed. Basically Abbatacola was arguing that Milton Bradley "didn't care all the time." After some pressing from Bernstein, Abbatacola said:
"The guy is a clubhouse jerk and I think he’s just bad for the team. . . . I’m getting things from people that are around the team on a regular basis that just see the experiences of the relationships he’s developing or have developed in the organization. It’s not positive, it’s not good. [...] How do you think that comes across to a guy who’s busting his ass when he sees a guy who gets a big deal contract, wonders why the media wants to talk to him, when he’s done virtually nothing since coming here, and spent more time being injured than not, and is surprised when the media targets him as a person of interest."
Those are sort of serious claims. If true -- and if you think it matters that baseball players get along, which is questionable in and of itself -- they undermine the Cubs' major offseason free agent signing, who they spent a nice little chunk of money on. But who, exactly, is Abbatacola hearing that from? Other players? Coaches? Trainers? Management staff? We know that players have put on public airs about liking him: Carlos Zambrano says he and Milton "relate," and rarely have people thrown the clubhouse jerk label around with Zambrano. Theriot, one of the more relatable players on the team, shares bats and makes bets in the dugout with Bradley. Yesterday, Bobby Scales told ESPN 1000 that Bradley is one of the best teammates he's ever had.
Instead, focus on the latter portion of Abbatacola's blockquote above: "[...] and is surprised when the media targets him as a person of interest." This is more like it. It sounds as if Abbatacola is getting his complaints primarily from media members that Milton Bradley isn't nice to, which, you know, honestly? Milton should be nicer to the media. This is true. It could only help his cause. It's profoundly dumb to alienate the people in charge of disseminating your image to the public; the best thing to do is play nice, answer questions, and make sure everyone has a lovely stay outside your locker for the 20 minutes it takes to answer repetitive questions after a game.
But because Bradley is not nice to the media doesn't necessarily make him a bad teammate. That's an important distinction. Most Cubs probably couldn't care less how Bradley interacts with the media, so long as he shows up and gets his work done every day. Conflating the two -- the way Bradley treats media people, and the way he treats his teammates -- is a dangerous thing, especially where a person's reputation is concerned. We love Boers and Bernstein, and we like Matt Abbatacola, but, well, let's just agree that we all ought to be a bit more careful.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.