Milton Bradley Finally Gets It

So, the Mariners are now without Milton Bradley, which you had to figure would happen at some point this season. Still, there are two remarkable things about the whole saga.

After being pulled from the game the other night and leaving the stadium in a huff, Bradley met with team officials the following day and admitted that he needs help. That’s amazing. Think about it. Here is a guy who has had trouble at every stop in his career, making about $10 million this year, finally coming out and admitting he has emotional problems.

And with that, it made me root for Milton Bradley. How many athletes have we seen who never get it, who go through life with a misanthropic sense of entitlement? Lawrence Taylor, anybody? It took a while for Bradley, but if he finally realizes that his problems might not be everybody else’s fault, then I wish him well.

The other remarkable part of the whole thing could be found in a story from The Associated Press:

Joined by fellow speakers Wakamatsu, Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mike Sweeney, Bradley stood before students and teachers at Lakeridge Elementary school in south Seattle and openly discussed what motivates him.

The man who in March told The Associated Press he was baseball’s Kanye West interrupted himself at one point because he was getting overcome with emotions during an impassioned five-minute talk to students on the Mariners’ annual education day.

“I grew up in Long Beach, Calif., me and my mother,” Bradley said softly through a microphone while in front of a stage in the school’s lunchroom. “She worked in a grocery store, checking out groceries every day, 40 hours a week. Every day she’d come home, get the mail. She’d get in the same chair with the bills. She’d put in one pile the bills she could pay. In another pile she’d put the ones she couldn’t pay. Bill collectors would call. I saw her fall asleep in that chair.

“I saw that every day. That was my motivation,” to reach the major leagues.

Then, Bradley who recently complained that no one ever asks him where he’s from, what he’s about shrugged. With a previously buzzing student body nearly silent and teachers watching intently, Bradley said through glistening eyes: “I’m kind of getting a little emotional right now, because this is my heart.”

Then he waved his hand over the kids.

“The whole world’s ahead of you,” Bradley said. “Someone in here might change the world. Motivation is what’s most important.”

As Bradley sat down, Sweeney hugged him. The five-time All-Star then gave Bradley’s back a comforting pat. The slugger smiled.

After the school event, Sweeney said the Mariners are going to help Bradley.

“The way we’re going to do that is just, to love on him,” Sweeney said. “His track record shows he’s had some ups and downs. But we can embrace him and get him to click the way he did in Texas (in 2008, Bradley’s All-Star season).

“He’s a beautiful man, with a beautiful heart.”

That’s a bit deeper and a bit more profound than what we normally see in the world of sports. Although I can imagine a bunch of 7-year-olds wondering what the heck he was talking about. Can’t you picture some second-grader telling their parents that the Mariners came to school and trying to answer the question, “What did they talk about?”

So best of luck to Milton Bradley. I hope he gets the help he needs.

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