Chicago Cubsgeneral manager Jim Hendry blames only himself for the debacle that was the Milton Bradley signing in 2009. He took on the former disgruntled player and didn't mince any words doing so in responding to Bradley's scathing comments about the organization and the fan base in an ESPN interview on Tuesday.
"We moved on a long time ago," Hendry said on Wednesday. "We moved on in St. Louis [when the team suspended Bradley for conduct detrimental to the organization on Sept. 21] and knew that would be the end of Milton's days here. I think we are all brought up in life to accept responsibility when we fail, and also to judge people [by] how they act and how they carry themselves when things don't go well."
The Cubs were well aware that Bradley was not fitting in with the team long before his suspension in September. According to a major league source, the Cubs tried as early as July to trade Bradley back to one of his former teams, the Texas Rangers.
Bradley's comments to ESPN included a shot at Cubs fans and the problems playing in Chicago as an African-American who underperformed. Bradley said unless you are a Hall of Fame-caliber player such as Ernie Banks or Andre Dawson it's difficult to play at Wrigley Field.
"I don't believe that," Hendry said. "Obviously, I'm not a player. I wasn't good enough, but we have a lot of players from a lot of countries and a lot of nationalities that love playing here. I think it's a total way out when you don't perform up to the expectations that were expected of you to blame it on a variety of different excuses."
Bradley raised the issue of hate mail and wondered how mail without postage gets to players in the clubhouse.
"I get mail all the time from people at the front desk," Hendry said. "In this case our organization, our public relations department, our front office, our manager and his staff couldn't have bent over backwards more than they did for the entire season until the ending in St. Louis. To call out other things like that, nothing was ever reported at the time [by Bradley]. It's 12 months later. It seems a little late for that."
Hendry was asked if the organization will continue to deal with Bradley's comments.
"We're going to put that behind us today once and for all," Hendry said. "That's why I'm saying what I'm saying for the organization, our players and our staff. We hold our heads highly. [Bringing Bradley to Chicago] was obviously something that didn't work out. But there was a total 100 percent outstanding effort to make it work and to deflect that on anybody in our organization is just wrong."