The self-proclaimed Kanye West of Major League Baseball is ready to change his ways.
Left fielder Milton Bradley returned to the Seattle Mariners last week following two weeks on the restricted list after he told the organization he needed help in dealing with personal and anger issues.
“I don’t have all the answers, Bradley said last Wednesday in a clubhouse meeting room before the Mariners took on the Toronto Blue Jays. “I’m not saying I’m cured. I’m working ever so hard, and I’m committed to this process. It’s going to be an ongoing thing. It’s the best thing for me. I’m glad I took this time.”
Since Bradley’s Major League debut in 2000 with the Montreal Expos, the book on the 32-year-old has been he’s a five-tool player but lacked the maturity that was needed to take his game to the next level. Bradley has just one All-Star appearance under his belt when he hit .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs for the Texas Rangers in 2008.
During eight stops in his 10-plus seasons in the majors, Bradley’s anger issues have made him a cancer in every clubhouse he’s set foot in. From tearing his ACL after San Diego Padres manager Bud Black had to restrain him during a altercation with an umpire to confronting a Kansas City Royals television announcer in the press box that was critical of him during a broadcast, Bradley’s antics and anger issues not only overshadowed his ability on the field but were embarrassing to the sport.
After wearing out his welcome with the Chicago Cubs in 2009, Bradley was traded to the Mariners in the off-season for pitcher Carlos Silva. Seattle knew they were taking a risk on Bradley, but with veterans like Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark Sweeney in the clubhouse, the Mariners thought the ticking time bomb wouldn’t explode.
Not only did Bradley explode, he did it before the start of the regular season, getting tossed in back-to-back Spring Training games in March. After getting off to a slow start with a .214 average and only two home runs, he decided to seek help.
Bradley has known that he needed to seek professional help after burning bridges with his friends, family and teammates.
“I wanted to take some time out, get my thoughts together, and just speak to someone and get an understanding from somebody unbiased,” Bradley told ESPN.com
This isn’t the first time Bradley has received treatment for his anger management. The Dodgers ordered Bradley to receive treatment after he slammed a bottle in the stands in the direction of a fan during a game in 2004. He received a five-game suspension for his actions as the Dodgers were in the stretch run of a pennant race.
“It’s always been like my validation, my worth as a human being is that I’ve been a good baseball player,” Bradley said. “That’s a bad way to look at it, but that’s just how I’ve looked at it. I just really had this hopeless feeling when I wasn’t playing baseball well. “I know when I start thinking about not living anymore based on the fact that I’m not playing baseball well, that’s when I know I need to take a step back.”
Not many professional athletes will admit the pressure to succeed affects their actions on and off the field. Instead of being baseball’s scapegoat, Bradley should be applauded for speaking out publicly about his personal issues and receiving treatment to not only better himself but improving his relationship with his teammates.
From this point out, Bradley is worthy of a clean slate assuming he continues to seek help and limits his outbursts to a minimum, which means no more incidents with fans, umpires, or managers.
“Because I’m a big guy, a 210-pound, 6-foot baseball player, I’m strong and can hit a baseball a long way,” Bradley said. “But I’m still human. My heart still pumps the same blood as everyone else. I have feelings and emotions, and my feelings are deep and strong.”
Kanye couldn’t have said it better himself.