OK, by now you've heard about Milton Bradley's meltdown, or as those neophyte pun-dits at ESPN termed it, "Miltdown". The gist is that Bradley threw a bottle into the stands after it was thrown on the field in his general vicinity. You may have also heard that Bradley was suspended for five games, the remainder of the Dodger's season, as a result of his actions.
I did not get to see the play until tonight because of the time difference. I had read plenty about it though and it ran the gamut though the majority came down hard on Bradley.
Here's what I saw:
First, Bradley dropped a fly ball apparently in the lights that allowed the Rockies to go ahead 3-0 in the top of the eighth. I say apparently given Bradley's body language on the play and Vin Scully's play-by-play, good man that Scully. Anyway, Giovanni "Ribisi: Carrera, the Dodger pitcher, practically threw a temper tantrum on the play.
As the next batter dropped a single to center to lengthen the lead to 4-0, the camera cut to Bradley, who had picked up a bottle in the stands. Scully didn't know whether it was glass or plastic, but he was vehemently castigating the unknown fan for throwing it.
Bradley, already upset over his misplay, walked to the right-field bleachers and after engaging one fan briefly, slammed the bottle apparently onto the concrete floor of the stands.
Bradley's teammates quickly had him backpedaling toward the dugout. En route he was ejected very quickly from the game. He removed his jersey and as he approached the dugout was greeted by the fans, who were booing the ejection. Bradley, however, in his fit of pique thought they were booing him and he swung his arms wildly up and down, which only served to excite the fans more, apparently in his favor. A Dodger quickly hustled Bradley into the dugout and up the runway to the clubhouse. The Dodgers came back to win 4-3 anyway.
Throughout Scully was sympathetic to Bradley, who was, so it would seem, the target of the offending item. I thought that Bradley slammed the bottle more in frustration than revenge, since it was not directed toward any fan (in sharp contrast to Frank Francisco's chair flinging a couple of weeks ago).
Actually, I think it's odd that so many are comparing the incident to the anticlimactic Jose Guillen flare-up the other day that got him suspended for the rest of the season and postseason. The issues are clearly more akin to the Francisco scrum. First, Guillen was insubordinate to his manager. No fan was involved at all. This is a chain-of-command issue, and for some reason sports take this more seriously, like the army courtmarshalling soldiers for disobeying orders.
The Francisco and Bradley incidents both involved fans. I consider this a much worse violation for many reasons. First, it opens the club up to a lawsuit for liability whether or not it can be proven. Second, it's about the worst PR move on the planet. It's like an ad against baseball being wholesome family entertainment. Heck, you can't even take your kid to the stadium without worrying that some player, let alone the inebriated jerk sitting next to you, will accost you. It also opens the player up to a civil suit, again as in the Francisco case.
In the Bradley case, he was provoked by a fan physically attacking him in his own stadium yet. Francisco was just attacked verbally. Also, Francisco directed his aggression at a group of fans with a pretty harmful object, a folding chair, as if it were a wrestling match. Bradley threw the bottle, it appeared to me, at the ground, and those plastic bottles are distributed to fans for the precise reason that they do less damage than conventional glass bottles.
Basically, I thought it was a bad incident all around and that Bradley deserved to be suspended. The whole incident seemed a bit overblown, however, probably due to the heat of the pennant race. I am surprised to what extent Bradley was demonized for his actions though.
I think the fine is fair. The Dodgers will not be hampered by it in the playoffs but it is for a substantial enough time to send Bradley and the rest of the players a message.
Bradley has seemed contrite since the incident and has said that he will seek help to deal with his anger. That's the right approach as far as MLB is concerned, and it actually would help the very talented but mercurial player.
Should the Dodgers collapse and let the Giants, who trail by three games with four left to play, win the division, the Dodger faithful should do to the miscreant fan, whom I heard was apprehended, what the Cubs did with the Steve Bartman ball this spring training. He'd blowed up real good.
[Mike's Baseball Rants does not advocate violence except in the punchlines of jokes. Warning Happy Fun Ball should not be thrown or touched in any way.]