David Brown

Answer Man: Milton Bradley talks labels, torn ACLs, dominoes

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Rangers coach Gary Pettis strolled around the visitors clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field and noticed a rather informal-looking game of dominoes being played. "Did you see how many points Milton dropped last night?" Pettis asked. He only got curious looks. "Thirty," Pettis said. The story spread and was repeated several times by the time manager Ron Washington came by. "The man took you all to school," Washington said. "You're just a bunch of little schoolboys. He schooled you."

Class around the whole league is in. Bradley rebounded from an infamous ACL injury this past September with a passionate vengeance that made him an All-Star for the first time. Bradley's reputation for losing his cool precedes him like nobody else in baseball — it's part of why he is playing for his sixth team since 2000. However, the fit seems right in Texas with Josh Hamilton and Washington, who appreciates Bradley's effort, production and — no kidding — interpersonal qualities. Bradley's personality has a documented dark side, but, for a change, a slice of the bright side is revealed in this week's Answer Man.

Q: The picture you took of yourself and Josh at home plate between swings at the Home Run Derby; did it turn out?

Milton Bradley: Nah, it was just like a white blur. I was hoping to get a nice little picture but when I checked it, it was just a big, white blur.

Q: Did you sneak any sentimental artifacts out of Yankee Stadium?

MB: No. I mean, I thought about it but I'm not a thief [laughs].

Q: You've been running baseball academies in the L.A. area for several years — are you as motivated now as you ever were to do so?

MB: It was a lot easier to do stuff with it when I was playing in L.A. In the off-season I still try to get out and do as much as I can. This off-season, I was pretty much rehabbing my knee the whole time so I didn't have a whole bunch of time to do it. It's always fun, though, and I always feel an obligation to help the youth who come from the same area as I come from.

Q: Are the academies doing what you want them to?

MB: Definitely. I've got some pictures of some of the kids with me. Maybe down the road we can do something like that in Texas. I'm still getting acclimated to Texas and used to everything.

Q: Let's say you made A LOT of money. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Carl Icahn kind of dough. Billions. What would you do with it?

MB: Make sure the inner-city youth has something constructive they could be doing instead of getting out there getting into trouble and getting involved in gangs and drugs and all that stuff. ... I'd just invest and do something positive. I'm not about owning a bunch of fancy stuff. I've got enough to support my family, so I'm fine.

Q: Do you wear No. 21 because it's half of 42?

MB: Yeah. I got 21 my first year in rookie ball and I've tried to have it ever since.

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Q: What's the secret of dominating at dominoes?

MB: You've just got to get control of the board. Whatever you got in your hand, you've got to make sure that's not the end so you can always play.

Q: When did you get good at it?

MB: It was actually in the last couple of weeks. I wasn't very good at dominoes. I know how to play, but I would always go for the points. I didn't know how to play defense. Now I understand everything that's involved.

Q: Did you pick up your tactics from watching others, or did you go online into a domino Web site?

MB: Just from observing and watching, actually, Pettis. Pettis, he was teaching some of the other guys who didn't know how to play at all, and I picked up the stuff from watching him.

Q: My high school's most famous alum is Gary Cole, the guy who was Mike Brady in the "Brady Bunch" movies (also Bill Lumbergh in "Office Space" and Kim Possible's dad). How does that compare with Long Beach Polytechnical High School?

MB: [Smiles]. We've got a ton of famous alumni. Billie Jean King, Snoop Dogg, Cameron Diaz, Tony Gwynn. That's just to name a few. It's definitely the home of scholars and champions [laughs].

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Q: Have you gotten to hang with Snoop Dogg?

MB: No, I never have. It's one of those kind of things where I'd definitely be interested in doing that (hint, hint). He seems like he's got a good personality and would be a fun guy to hang around.

Q: What's the cutest thing your 2-year-old has done lately?

MB: Just probably, when a song comes on the radio, he hears it and will start [groovin'] and singing part of the song. That's pretty cute.

Q: When you visit your mom, what do you look forward to most?

MB: She lives only like 20 minutes from me in Long Beach — I live in Redondo Beach — but when I see her I just look forward to her smiling and maybe some home cooking [laughs].

Q: Jeffrey Hammonds told you in an orientation that basically players will get a label and it sticks to them forever. What does your label say?"

MB: "Contents in package are not as they appear" [laughs].

Q: Does your label have an expiration date? You can't scratch off this label, like on a beer bottle?

MB: Probably not. It's there.

Q: So, if your label is misleading or wrong, what actually are your ingredients?

MB: I definitely got some cayenne pepper. Sugar. Everything has high fructose corn syrup in it. Distilled water, maybe, I don't know.

Q: What's it like working for Chuck Norris?

MB: (Not having any of it) Chuck Norris? What's that, what's that question?

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Q: Walker, Texas Ranger?

MB: Oh. It's been one of my better baseball experiences. Coming to Texas, I really didn't know what to expect. I knew Wash, so that was the familiarity. He made it comfortable for me. It's taken me some time to warm up to it, but I'm definitely enjoying myself.

Q: You've been traded twice for A's pitcher Andrew Brown. Is that legal?

MB: [Smiles]. I guess so! I finally met him this spring training and he told me, "Hi, I'm the guy you've been traded for twice. I was like, "Hey, nice to meet 'cha [laughs]."

Q: What will happen in the November presidential election?

MB: Hopefully, the country decides we need a change, we need something different, and makes it happen.

Q: How will the country be different in four years?

MB: Hopefully, we'll be able to get some gas for less than $4 [a gallon]. And our troops'll be home from Iraq. And terrorism won't be as much of a threat.

Q: Do you think we miss Tupac as much as an actor as we do in music?

MB: He definitely had a lot of potential. He was a person of intense passion. He wrote thought-provoking lyrics. I think he poured everything into what he did and he "became" the character. He's gone too soon.

Q: Who introduced you to Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead"?

MB: I never read that. Somebody wrote that it was my favorite book. I never even read it [laughs].

Q: Are you an NBA fan?

MB: Lakers.

Q: Sorry about the Finals. In the context of being a baseball player, what do you think of what's going on with the refs?

MB: I think it's disappointing. When people look at baseball, they think, "Oh, steroids." When the ylook at basketball, people might think the refs are crooked when there's a bad call here or there or a non-call here or there. I think the NBA took immediate action and did what they had to do to fix that.

Q: Did [ump] Mike Winters apologize to you for making Bud Black tear your ACL?

MB: I don't need an apology — and Bud Black didn't tear my ACL. It tore on its own. I wasn't in contact with anybody when I went down. That's been misconstrued. I don't think Mike Winters is a bad person. I think it was one of those days where, obviously, he had some things going on personally. And it probably was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Q: You and Hamilton call yourselves "The Risk Brothers"?

MB: Somebody wrote, on ESPN in spring training — I go online to see it — and the site has a picture of me and Hamilton and the headline, "Worth the Risk" or whatever. And I said, I don't think there's a risk in taking on two five-tool players on your ballclub. That's all reward [laughs].

David Brown is a regular contributor to Big League Stew and writes Morning Juice, which runs Monday-Friday in the a.m. Answer Man is a regular feature on BLS.

Previous Answer Men:
Hunter Pence - April 10 • Justin Morneau - April 17 • David Wright - April 24 • Erin Andrews - April 25 • Andy Van Slyke - May 1 • Derek Jeter - May 8 • Bob Uecker - May 15 • Bert Blyleven - May 22 • Torii Hunter - May 29 • Joba Chamberlain - June 3 • Larry Bowa - June 13 • Zack Greinke - June 20 • Kerry Wood - June 26 • Huston Street - July 10 • Josh Hamilton - July 15

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