So finally the truth comes out: Milton Bradley’s troubles with the Cubs had little to do with the fans, dugout tirades, arguments with Lou Pineilla, or even tossing a ball that was in play to a fan (oops). Nope, we should have guessed that it had to do with a problem much more common to major leaguers: Preschool taunting.
Rushing to his defense in an interview on a Chicago radio station, Bradley’s mother, Charlena Rector, says that her son was distracted this season because his 3-year-old son had been encountering racism in preschool. I’ve always said it: The mean streets of Miss Nancy’s Room 7 aren’t all Graham Crackers and nap time. If you cross the wrong people they will &%$! YOU UP. Read more…
It’s not often that injury news takes us completely aback, but that’s absolutely the case over in Pullman tonight. One slightly mentioned aspect of last weekend’s game pitting Washington State against Southern Methodist was WSU’s tailback, James Montgomery, suffering an apparent knee injury. Not that those aren’t serious, but, y’know… they happen.
But one thing that doesn’t usually happen is a potentially fatal injury that nobody recognizes immediately. That’s what apparently befell Montgomery during the game; after the game, he reported increasing discomfort with the knee, and went in for surgery on Sunday morning. It probably saved his life.
Years from now, when sports historians try to come up with a blueprint for big-market failure in baseball, they’ll take a long, hard look at the 2009 Cubs. For the large amount of money poured into the season, nearly all of it was invested in a few aging players, while the lower half of the roster remained below average. The result? An embarrassing failure of a season, 11 games back of the Cardinals with 15 games to play, and a disturbingly bleak outlook on the next few years.
(”You will regret this. Wait, I mean “won’t.” Wait, no, you actually will regret this.”)
While Alfonso Soriano’s precipitous drop in quality and albatross of a contract are the scariest omens for the team going forward, no personnel move from 2009 seems to have backfired as badly as the signing of Milton Bradley. Bradley, long known for letting his emotions get the best of him, has put forth one of the worst seasons imaginable for someone getting regular at-bats in the middle of the order: .257, 12 HR, 40 RBI. Blame the Cubs for not getting on base in front of Bradley if you’d like, but to get regular at-bats in the middle of the order and come away with 40 RBI on the season is an impressive accomplishment… if perversely so.
And thus a perfect storm of screwyous builds; the Wrigley fans frequently boo Bradley, Bradley’s play suffers, he’s dealing with a sore right knee that’s keeping him out of games… if there’s ever a time to get a choice negative quote out of Bradley, now’s the time, right? Yes indeed, friends… now is the time. (UPDATE: the comments just got him suspended for the rest of the year).
Some people might think that Chicago Cubs fans feel deprived. Despite a robust payroll and high expectations, the team is wallowing in mediocrity, mired in second place behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Then, of course, there’s the whole 100-years-and-counting thing. Fans of another team might be morose or angry.
But why be so upset when mediocrity can be so damn entertaining? The Cubs have two of baseball’s most, um, colorful characters in Lou Piniella and Milton Bradley. The two loudmouths have taken turns running off their mouths all season, much to the delight of impartial observers. Now they’re taking their unintentional comedy act to the next level as Piniella has announced he’ll be serving as Bradley’s close personal life (and hitting…OK, maybe just hitting) coach.
Perhaps Lou Pinella could have used some of that pot he admitted to having smoked after watching yet another meltdown by one of his players last night. Not surprisingly, it was Milton Bradley who was the instigator this time, flinging his batting helmet in disgust and tossing a Gatorade cooler around the dugout after a bad at-bat in the team’s game versus the Chicago White Sox. (And what do baseball players have against Gatorade? If Tiger Woods ever walked into a MLB dugout, he’d probably be clubbed to death on sight.)
(Lou Pinella was shocked that this guy lost his temper.)
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder in sports crime - O.J. Simpson still hasn’t found his wife’s killer but we can’t be assured that Dirk Nowitzki’s baby momma didn’t have something to do with it - former NFL linebacker Eric Naposki is arrested for being the gunman who killed Newport Beach (Calif.) millionaire William McLaughlin. If you’re looking for more information on him, don’t check his former teams. The Patriots have already spiked his former alumni player page.
According to the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, Naposki — who was the paramour of McLaughlin’s girlfriend, Nanette Johnston — shot McLaughlin six times in an infamous 1994 slaying that sent shockwaves through the Southern California socialite circles and the medical aristocracy, since McLaughlin was the man who invented the process to separate plasma from blood.
Then again, who saw the Magic win coming, either? After watching Cleveland breeze through its first two playoff series, sitting at home while waiting for the Celtics and Magic to finish beating each other up. When they finally returned to action on Wednesday, they jumped out to a lead, though that didn’t do anything to give them a win. No, instead, the Cavs dropped their first game of the playoffs, raising serious questions over whether the cast around LeBron James can keep up with Dwight Howard and a Magic team that looks more and more playoff tested.
Speaking of basketball, the Lakers are still in the playoffs, but they’re hardly the biggest basketball story going on in their own city. Ok, maybe they are the biggest story in L.A., but the Clippers are stealing some of their thunder, for good and bad reasons. First, they win the NBA Draft Lottery for the right to pick Blake Griffin. Then, less excitingly for fans of the red and blue (are any left?), is this incredibly damning portrait of owner Donald Sterling, who looks like a bigger and bigger racist with each article that gets published.
The most recent accusations were lobbed by ESPN The Magazine, which we tripped across via DEADSPIN, and they go into scary detail about his slumlording and overt racism in granting the right to live in his shantytowns. Here’s your gratuitous over-the-top pullquote, courtesy Mr. Sterling’s written records themselves (no one told him about this new invention called a “shredder”?)
When Sterling first bought the Ardmore, he remarked on its odor to Davenport. “That’s because of all the blacks in the building, they smell, they’r enot clean,” he said, accoding to Davenport’s testimony. “And it’s because of all the Mexicans taht just sit around and smoke and drink all day. He added: “So we have to get them out of here.” Shortly after, construction work caused a serious leak at the complex. When Davenport surveyed the damage, she found an elderly woman, Kandynce Jones, wading through several inches of water in Apartment 121. Jones was paralyzed on the right side and legally blind. She took medication for high blood pressure and to thin a clot in her leg. Still, she was remarkably cheerful, showing Davenport pictures of her children, even as some of her belongings floated around her.
Can’t David Stern steal back the top pick? I mean, top media market aside, is it really worth putting a talent like Blake Griffin in L.A. if it means helping Sterling make money? We’re certainly not sure it is.
Meanwhile, it was only a matter of time until the floodgates about Milton Bradley conspiracy theorists came out of the woodwork. Well, consider them here to stay, after two radio hosts on Chicago station THE SCORE debated whether Bradley was a good contributor for the Cubs. Not surprisingly, the takes of the two hosts were vastly different, though the boiled down to once major concern: Is Bradley a clubhouse cancer? Or is he just infairly maligned by the media?
The issue at heart is a legitimate one, since the media continues to trot out a ditribe about how Bradley brings only negatives to a team. According to analysis from MOUTHPIECE SPORTS, which we’ve always heard and read as well, Bradley is actually known as a terrific teammate, by Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Theriot and, most recently, Bobby Scales.
That sure makes it seem like Bradley is the victim of unfair media criticism, though who really knows with a guy so volatile he rips an ACL while arguing a call at first base. Not third or home, first. Yet that in itself seems to prove that he’s got a lot more passion that he’s getting credit for, so we’re not sure what Matt Abbacatola was talking about. Do you?
Speaking of Theismann, we’re sorry, but we can’t get enough of this whole Keyboard Cat fad, and if we don’t use this now, we’ll never get a chance to. Sure it’s macabre, but then there’s a cat! Playing a keyboard!
SI decides hockey is just relevant enough to compile a list of the sports most rugged players. Thanks SI. Of course, it is a pretty solid list, considering the fact that Owen Nolan is near the top. That’s all we needed to know.
As evidenced by Wednesday night’s Pittsburgh Penguins’ romp over the Washington Capitals, not every Game 7 in hockey is something special. But let’s face it - most of them are. And when you throw overtime into the mix? It’s about as good as it gets. It’s drama that you cannot turn away from - at any second, the game and the series could be over with one thunderbolt.
So it was that the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins skated at the end of the first overtime in their Game 7 in Boston, looking for all the world like they were going to a second extra period - or more. And then out of nowhere, a shot was flipped towards the net, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was unable to control the rebound, and winger Scott Walkerpounced to put the puck in the net for his first career playoff goal to end the game 3-2 and the series.
And the fact that it was Walker who scored the series-winner had to hurt Bruins fans doubly, since he was the person who sucker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward near the end of Game 5. According to NHL rules, Ward should have been suspended for Game 6, but the league rescinded the suspension after a hearing on Monday. So he went from almost breaking Ward’s face to definitely breaking the Bruins’ hearts.
(Of course, even though it was a Game 7 overtime winner, it arguably wasn’t as impressive or as cold-blooded as how the Hurricanes scored two late goals to send the New Jersey Devils packing in Game 7 of their first-round series. If I’m the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, I’m doing everything I can to close them out early.)
The Detroit Red Wings’ Game 7 victory over the Anaheim Ducks didn’t go to overtime, but it sure had its share of drama. Detroit went up two goals early, only to see Anaheim claw back to level the score at 3-3. But Dan Clearyscored with three minutes to go to give the Red Wings the go-ahead goal and Detroit’s defense was able to make it stick, setting up a Western Conference Finals match-up with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Oh, you say that you prefer NBA Game 7s? Well, you’ll have your chance for satisfaction soon enough, as two teams fought off elimination to earn one deciding game. In Orlando, the subtle message that Dwight Howard sent to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy through the media (i.e. “quit being an idiot and get me the ball”) must have sunk in, as Howard had 23 points and 22 rebounds and the Magic forced a return trip to Boston with an 83-75 victory over the Celtics. None of which apparently excited Orlando fans to show up, as there were “patches of empty seats early in the game.”
No wonder Commissioner David Stern was at the Lakers vs. Rockets game. And speaking of late-arriving - someone might want to tell the Lakers that Houston is in a different time zone, because they clearly aren’t showing up for games there until it’s too late. Much like in Game 4, Los Angeles put themselves in a huge hole they never could get out of, at one point closing an early 16-point deficit to two points but finally running out of steam and falling 95-80 to force a Game 7 at Staples Center. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets wait and rest.
Here’s some more sports news to digest while I try to figure out how to be part of “Bike To Work Day” when I work from home.
Your daily Brett Favre Update Despite Any Real News: Chris Mortenson and Ed Werder combined mind powers to let us know that Favre consulted noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews to see if his bicep injury could be fixed without surgery. Which means that he’s definitely going to play for the Vikings. Or definitely not. Or whatever.
Major league umpire Paul Schriber had to apologize for touching the Tigers’ Magglio Ordonez while guiding him away from home plate following an argument over balls and strikes. The folks at BOOTLEGGER SPORTS aren’t buying this touchy-feely stuff, and they’re using “Bull Durham” as Exhibit A:
Milton Bradley: still crazy, but his suspension for bumping an umpire has been reduced from two games to one. And Rick Morrissey of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE suspects that the Chicago Cubs are OK with his insanity.
Ignoring perhaps the most important sports maxim ever — that games are decided on the field — Lou Piniella is getting somewhat desperate to turn the Cubs into winners (or at least lovable losers). Sweet Lou is convinced the problems are all in their heads.
Piniella is turning to proven winners like Phil Jackson and John Wooden, and a number of sports psychologists, to settle Chicago’s mental turmoil. The signing of free agent Milton Bradley immediately invalidates any of Piniella’s strategy.