Bradley's star-crossed Friday
If things weren't going so badly, Milton Bradley and his Cubs teammates would almost have to say his Friday gaffe would almost be funny.
The Cubs' enigmatic right fielder's pass into the right-field stands as the Twins' Brendan Harris made a mad dash from first to third base didn't really factor in the final score, but it did show a general lack of concentration that exacerbates the mediocre baseball the team has played all season.
For his part, the manager, Lou Piniella, was perplexed.
"I'm sure he's somewhat embarrassed," Piniella said in reference to Bradley's forgetting there was one out instead of two. "I've never seen that before. The only thing we can go over is how many outs there are. It didn't cost us a run, but it's embarrassing the person when it happens."
Adding to the star-crossed day for Bradley, was a bad base-running play, getting tagged out on a ground ball to the Twins' Joe Crede as Bradley ran haphazardly from second to third base.
"I just made a mistake today. I've never had that happen before," Bradley said in reference to throwing the ball into the right-field stands. "I guess I'm in the bloopers with Larry Walker now. There's worse people I could be linked with."
(Walker caught a fly ball in mid-2000 down the right-field foul line and then handed it to fan thinking it was the third out of the inning. When he realized there was only one out and a runner was tagging up, he grabbed the ball back from the fan and threw it in, adding to the hilarity of the blooper.)
As for Bradley's running play, he had this explanation.
'The ground ball went to Crede. It looked like he wanted to go home with it," Bradley said. "But when he saw me [running] he just took the out and we got the run. It was a weird play."
Bradley's job, however, on that play, was to stay at second base. He was the potential tying run with only one out. As for him losing the ball in the sun on Jason Kubel's fly ball in the seventh, it also cost the team a run.
To Bradley's credit, he answered every question thrown his way with sincerity after the game. Bradley laughed at himself for his contribution to the all-time baseball bloopers reel. As for the fans, they really caved in on Bradley, booing him the rest of the game. Once again, Bradley stood up and took it like a man.
"I mean, that's life," Bradley said. "These people have high expectations for me and I have high expectations for myself."
The intimacy of Wrigley Field has gotten to a lot of great pros in the past. Bradley admitted his concentration was off trying to placate the fans. I asked him after the game if playing in Chicago has been a different experience than what he imagined it would be.
"Not really," Bradley said. "I never played where there was a packed house every night and every day. There were a lot of Twins' fans, so I was looking for somebody to throw the ball to, and there were Twins' fans everywhere."
Bradley is not what's wrong with this team. A lack of productive at-bats is what is adding to a team underachieving on offense.