Milton Bradley was arrested on Tuesday afternoon on a felony count of making a “criminal threat.” Details have been sketchy so far (but Hardball Talk is doing a good job of keeping up on the story). “Code section 422” of the California penal code was cited.
With $12 million remaining on the three-year, $30 million deal Bradley signed with Jim Hendry and the Cubs after the 2008 season, Bradley invites many unflattering comparisons to someone who also made the news on Tuesday: Kansas City Royals pitcher Gil Meche, the default ace of the Royals staff when healthy. He announced Tuesday afternoon that he would be retiring, thus forgoing the $12 million Kansas City owner David Glass still owed him.
Superficially, the details are alike, with their ages (32 for Meche and 33 for Bradley) and the near-identical length and size of their contracts, but that’s about it. Meche is retiring because, he says, he doesn’t want to spend another year in the big leagues as a struggling reliever while recovering from surgery. The move is being played by journalists as a move by a man filled with integrity.
In Bradley’s case, the details can’t be much more frightening than they already are. Domestic violence is no laughing matter and, if the DA decides that there is enough evidence to prove the charges, things could go down the drain pretty quickly. But, unless the case leads to conviction, there is a good chance that Bradley will not lose a penny on his contract. Either way, there is hardly room for the word “integrity” in these Bradley stories.
Linking the two players in any way besides their age and contract status is counter-productive and unfair. Their similar contract terms are merely happenstance, as is their age. And the public perception of Milton Bradley is bad enough as it is; people shouldn’t be pouring gasoline on the flames—especially when we don’t know the full story. Comparing Bradley to a clean-cut Meche who is already being touted as a “good guy” for his decision only seeks to harm Bradley while doing nothing but incite controversy.
Until we know the full story behind each player, I hope that we can withhold judgment. There’s a lot to uncover and it serves no one to artificially speed up the process.