Milton grows up

They love Milton Bradley in Oakland. He had a much more enjoyable time with the A's this year than he ever did alongside Jeff Kent in the Dodgers clubhouse. Dodger fans would probably be surprised to learn that after the A's playoff loss to the Tigers this weekend, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins singled out Bradley as Oakland's leader in guts and clubhouse class.

One of baseball's toughest men was moved to tears. Sitting at his locker, a towel draped over his head, Milton Bradley had been crying. His eyes were blood-red as he finally turned to face the media. He handled a most difficult interview session the way he handled the American League Championship Series -- intensely, professionally, without fear.

We all have memories of spectacular postseason performances in defeat. Such names as Henry Aaron, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Frank Robinson, Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson come to mind. So many others. I can't recall many more inspirational than Bradley's this postseason, and Saturday's Game 4 in particular.

As much as he tried, Frank Thomas could not carry Oakland through this series. In a sea of futility, on a team coming to life only in the final, desperate moments, Bradley took the responsibility upon himself. Along the way, he became more of a man. He found his most pleasurable experiences, by far, in a baseball uniform. To have all that, and to have given his best in defeat, moved the man to tears....

"I just feel I was made for this," Bradley said through those reddened eyes. "The pressure. Giving it all you have. It was such a great ride. Most fun I've ever had in baseball. Best team I've ever been with. Maybe someday I'll smile, and be happy, over having played well. Right now, it hurts."

The Dodgers should be kicking themselves for not finding a way to help Bradley take this step forward here in his hometown.

October 16, 2006 12:21 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor
 

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