As well as losing all benefit-of-the-doubt in Chicagoland, those comments caused Jim Hendry to finally, mercifully suspend Bradley for the remainder of the year. This probably wouldn't have happened if the Cubs were still in the hunt for a playoff berth -- Bradley is finally hitting well, at least -- but they aren't, so it did.
Bradley has no one to blame but himself.
First, his quotes, in case you haven't heard them three or four times already:
Bradley, scratched from Saturday's lineup with a sore left knee, was quoted as saying "you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here." [...] "I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment," Bradley told the newspaper. "There's too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. "Everything is just bashing you. It's just negativity."
Hendry, perhaps ironically emboldened by just how bad the Cubs are this year, decided to bench Bradley for the rest of the season, and he got all defensive in doing so:
Hendry was surprised to learn that Bradley wasn't enjoying Chicago after seeking a deal with the Cubs in the offseason."That's why it was so disconcerting to hear about negativity," Hendry said. "It's a great place to play. Great ballpark, great city, greatest fans in the world. That's just something that's intolerable to me, to blame the fans and the other things that were blamed."
For his part, Bradley probably did have a negative experience in Wrigley Field a few times this year. No doubt he heard a few racist comments. No question the media was tougher on him than if he had been hitting well. No question that the Chicago media tends to overanalyze each Cubs game as though a World Series berth hinges on every out. That stuff's all true.
But if Bradley didn't know any of that before he came here, if he thought it was going to be all fun in the sun and relaxed summertimes at Wrigley, then either he has the worst agent in the world or he just wasn't listening. Cubs fans are intense. Each year that passes without a World Series gets more intense. Each year that passes without a World Series in which a fan favorite utility man was traded to accomodate a left-handed free agent signing, and that free agent signing doesn't hit a single ball for like the first two months of the season ... well, you get the idea. If Milton doesn't understand why he had difficulty here, he just doesn't get it.
At the end of the day, that seems like the most probable conclusion. Milton Bradley defenders, few though they were, have almost entirely renounced him. It doesn't work in Chicago. Bradley will be traded, and that will be the end of that, but in the meantime Cubs fans can wonder what happened even if there's not much wondering to do. The reasoning is pretty simple: Milton Bradley is sort of crazy. End transmission. End season.
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.