So the Dodgers win another with five in the bottom of the ninth inning (again, amazingly), and should be steeling for the playoffs. Instead, the story line from last night is the rupture in the Dodger Stadium faithful's relationship with good hit-no brain outfielder Milton Bradley. Sportswriters have been waiting all season for the kid with the baaad rep to self-destruct, so when he left his position and walked to the right field railing to jaw at abusive fans, T.J. Simers reports, "up in the press box everyone in unison said, 'uh-oh.'" Bradley got madder and wilder, then as he was booed off the field by his hometown fans, he stripped off his Dodgers jersey and cap and gestured at the angry stadium. Bill Plaschke's take in the Times:
After what happened Tuesday night in front of stunned fans at Dodger Stadium, he may now be finished for the regular season, and perhaps forever as a Dodger, and it's hard to argue otherwise.
Steve Dilbeck's column in the Daily News:
"It should be the end of his season. The end of his career with the Dodgers."
Bradley was no calmer in the clubhouse. He slammed a door that struck a security guard, and snarled at a Daily News reporter: "Don't say anything to me. Leave me the (expletive) alone." The team vice president finally escorted him out. He'd be missed big-time if the Dodgers get to the playoffs, but even if the league doesn't suspend Bradley, owner Frank McCourt may be forced to do something. After all, just down the freeway, the Angels this week conspicuously kicked a crucial hitter, Jose Guillen, off the team for similarly being a jerk. Jon Weisman's take on the Milt-down, as a DN headline writer put it: "It frustrates me and breaks my heart all at once." Steve Springer's account in the Times.
The incident, by the way, began with spectators verbally abusing Bradley and tossing a plastic bottle his way. That may not excuse or even explain his explosion, but as a side note: a few hours before the game, ex-blogger Howard Owens emailed—in response to yesterday's item about fans leaving the stadium early—that he too left in the 8th inning of a recent game.
"Why? Because we feared for our safety. Dodger fans are getting out of control. There were three fights in the stands that night. Friendly rivalry has become a lost concept in Dodger Stadium."
Owens is Director of New Media at the Ventura County Star.
* Continued Wednesday: More readers are writing in about their bad experiences in the stands at Dodger Stadium. Also, it was last September that Mark Antenorcruz was killed by another fan in the parking lot after a Giants game. Go here to read the comments his family and friends posted at L.A. Observed. ** Meanwhile, the Dodgers and baseball have decided to manage the incident this way: Bradley is suspended for the rest of the regular season, he has apologized and won't appeal, and he has admitted to a "problem with anger." He'll seek treatment. The spin will have worked if the fans embrace Bradley in the playoffs; if he's booed continually, the Dodgers can try to trade him before next season. The worst case, I suppose, is they collapse and don't make the playoffs, and the fans blame Bradley's temper for taking his bat out of the lineup. If that happens, I'd bet the Bradley era in L.A. is over.