I have a problem with Barry Bonds. I dislike the guy’s act entirely, but can’t fully explain it. Now, having read previous articles, you may think you know why I feel the way I do. But I’d bet you’re wrong. Hell, I don’t even know why I feel the way I do entirely. And with as big as baseball is to me, it’s something I think about a lot.
See, I’m completely against steroids in baseball. I don’t really care about steroids in other sports because I don’t care about other sports nearly as much as baseball. It’s that simple. Sure, steroids are bad in all sports, but I have no emotional attachment to other sports like I do baseball, so I don’t waste my energy on it. So steroids are a big reason why I have an issue with Barry Bonds. But there was always the issue of his attitude. We’ve all heard the stories. I don’t know if they’re true, but they affect me just the same. He’s not a nice guy. So I have a bias against him from the start. Is that fair? Am I basing my arguments against Barry on the possibility that he’s an ass?
Enter Milton Bradley.
Why do I have completely different feelings for a guy like Milton Bradley? By many accounts, he’s just as big of, if not more of, a jerk as Barry. He’s had run-ins with the law, run-ins with fans, and run-ins with fellow players. There’s not much one can do to defend the guy. Yet, I like him. I like him much more than I like Barry Bonds. In fact, I’ll summarily dismiss Bonds to my friends as an arrogant ass and all-around bad guy. But when someone tries to do the same to me with Milton Bradley, I protest and call them out as uninformed. Why?
The easy answer is to say that I’m naive and human. That may even be the right answer. I don’t know. The tougher answer might be that I have some sort of soft spot for a guy who continually tries to better himself. If he’s making an attempt, who am I to bash him for it?
When Bradley had the incident with the bottle, he ripped his jersey off as he left the field. That’s often seen as major disrespect to the organization. He was pissed at the fans and the Dodgers for not having his back. Right or wrong, that’s how it was. He was pissed. And he took grief for it. But early the next season, when Bradley went deep to win a game for the Dodgers in the late innings, he stomped on home plate and pulled on the “Dodgers” on his jersey. He yelled something about it at the time; I can’t recall what. But he was showing what he felt about the team then. The team, and Paul DePodesta, stuck up for him when he was brutalized in the press. They kept him around and began to build around his talents, which are pretty good. Milton Bradley saw that and appreciated it. He was trying.
So is that all there is to it? If a guy attempts at redemption, we cut him slack? It always seems like people care when a convicted murderer apologizes for what he did. I’ve always felt that didn’t matter. But maybe it does matter. Maybe we want to believe that there is good inherent in folks, and their apologizing shows it.
But this is baseball.
I like Milton Bradley as a player. I don’t like Barry Bonds. Barry Bonds did steroids. I don’t know if Milton Bradley did. Barry Bonds is allegedly a pretty bad guy. Milton Bradley seems to be a worse guy. But Milton has come clean and tried to correct himself. Barry continues to blame the world for his problems.
I am pained when I see Milton Bradley struggle in his baseball life as well as his non-baseball life. But I’ll be damned if I tell you I don’t love to see Barry struggle to hit, like he is now, and hope that he crashes and burns in a way we’ve never seen before off the field. That would just be so damn entertaining.
So what is it? What makes it impossible for me to feel any sympathy toward a guy like Barry Bonds? Why do I feel so much sympathy toward a guy like Milton Bradley? I don’t think it’s the color of their laundry. But maybe it is. I guess I’ll never know the answer.
If only I could just stop thinking about it so damn much.