Milton Bradley (above) said he started seeing a change in the culture of the A’s clubhouse in spring training, from the manager’s office to the training room to the players, and he knew he wasn’t going to be long for the place.
“I was pretty honest with them when I left,” Bradley said Friday night before the Padres, his new team, met Barry Bonds and the Giants. “I told them I had more fun playing baseball in Oakland than I ever have … last year.
“This year, though, it just wasn’t the same, not only in the clubhouse but on the field. It just seems like everybody ” the coaching staff, everybody ” was afraid of their own shadows. Everybody’s scared to death of Billy Beane. Not me, though, and people could see that.”
Among other things, he said the A’s general manager treated him so rudely the day of the trade, he was nearly pushed to physical violence.
“I ran into him in the hallway when I came in for treatment,” Bradley recalled. “He points his finger in my face and tells me, ‘I need to talk to you in my office, and if I don’t see you before you leave, your bags are packed.’
“Prior to that meeting with Billy the last day, the way he talked to me in that hallway was reason enough for him to get his teeth knocked out,” Bradley added. “So I told him and everybody else before I went in there, ‘You better get your paramedic on duty, because if he talks to me crazy again, we’re going to have a problem.’ I’m a man. Nobody’s going to talk to me that kind of way.”
Bradley maintained the A’s started becoming a cloak-and-dagger operation almost from the moment Ken Macha was bounced out of the manager’s office, that streams of information about players and clubhouse chatter were being absorbed by someone and being relayed straight to Beane.
“It was just one of those situations where you knew somebody was talking behind your back about something,” he said. “I’d say things out loud in the clubhouse on purpose, because I knew it would get back to Billy. I don’t know what you call it, there was a pipeline going on there.
“So I’d say things on purpose just to see if Billy would bring it up to me, and he always did.”
Bradley said that whenever he would have a meeting in a clubhouse office with Beane or Geren, the two men brought in first-base coach Ty Waller to be part of it.
“You’ve got one black coach, you’ve got to call him into the office to talk to me?” he said. “He (Waller) wouldn’t have anything to do with the meeting and didn’t have anything to say, either, but he had to be in there. Why? I don’t know. Were they afraid of me? Were they afraid I was going to start a fight? I’ve never fought anybody in my life.”
The SF Chronicle’s Vlae Kershner dismisses Bradley as “a hothead who is showing his bitterness at being cast aside”. That said, I’m not about to discount the possibility there is a racial aspect to the way certain players are labeled and demeaned by management and media alike. But enough about Shea Hillenbrand. Milton Bradley’s playing for a contender, while Beane’s A’s are just a Dan Haren sore arm away from claiming last place in the NL West. And for those who suspect Bradley will soon wear out his welcome in San Diego, just remember that playing for a lot of teams didn’t stop Gaylord Perry (another victim of racial prejudice) from reaching the Hall Of Fame.