If I was a Cubs fan, I might not feel this way. And if I was a man, I know I would not feel this way. But as a woman and an impartial observer, I was fascinated by the confrontation between Cubs manager Lou Piniella and his “star” rightfielder Milton Bradley this weekend.
I put star in quote marks because Bradley has not played this season like someone paid $30 million for three years is expected to perform. The Cubs knew they were taking a chance in signing him because Bradley, for all of his wondrous talents, has a long history of acting like a deranged two-year-old in need of a nap.
But the part that really interested me was how much the two men acted like women this weekend – or at least like women are often stereotyped.
I will not stereotype because I learned in journalism school that this is not a good thing to do. And also because it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as what I am going to do instead, and that’s to project how I and most women I know would act if we were in the same situation.
The problem started when Bradley, after flying out against the Sox on Friday (the day after being benched for poor performance in Detroit), threw his helmet in the dugout and smashed the water cooler.
OK, this part is a little hard for me to envision for myself or any woman I know since women, as a general rule, do not resort to smashing and throwing. For example, when I strike out repeatedly in softball, I usually come into the dugout and apologize to all of my teammates for being so bad, and if no one consoles me, I will start making excuses like the pitcher is putting too much spin on the ball or I can’t find a bat that isn’t way too heavy. Suffice to say, I do much more talking than smashing.
Next, Piniella ordered Bradley to take off his uniform and leave the ballpark, after which Piniella said Bradley mumbled something under his breath. That’s when Piniella followed Bradley into the clubhouse and yelled at him, “You’re not a player, you’re a piece of s—.”
Piniella was angry not just because Bradley has not been hitting this season, but because he’s a monumental pain, getting ejected and suspended for arguing in his first Wrigley Field at-bat; complaining that umpires pick on him; continuing his reputation for nursing seemingly minor injuries; and flinging helmets when things don’t go his way.
I am not going to say women do not say things we wish we hadn’t. I’m guessing there are even women in management positions who have resorted to cursing at an employee who has been as big an annoyance as Bradley has. I think, again not to stereotype, that most of us would be a little more clever than Piniella in his choice of words, but that’s being nit-picky.
One of the things that set Lou off was that someone – and he accused clubhouse workers at Sox Park – gossiped to the media about his verbal assault.
I suspect it was Bradley who blabbed to one too many people about what Lou said, and that’s what got back to a Sun-Times reporter. But this would not happen to most women. Why? Because we have all learned that when saying anything gossip-worthy in a public place – good or bad and no matter how far from your home base – you always take a long look around first, lower your voice and use made-up names.
Before Friday’s game, Bradley told Tribune reporter Paul Sullivan that he was not bonding with his teammates.
“I had a good rapport with [fired hitting coach Gerald Perry],” Bradley said.” I trusted Gerald and I could talk to him, and he’s gone. I think I clicked with [ex-Cub outfielder Joey] Gathright and he’s gone. So you just kind of feel like you’re on an island, and trying to stay afloat.
“The teammates, they’re there and they say all the right things, but it’s just [small talk]. . .
“I’m really not a guy who’s seeking any attention. I’m not seeking to be noticed . . . I just want to be part of a group and fit in and just love and be loved. That’s the basis of what I am . . . Maybe years ago I might have thought I wanted all this, but I really don’t want all the attention.”
OK, first let me just say that if a woman in a prominent position making $30 million said something like this publicly, she would be ridiculed in every newspaper, Internet blog and People Magazine for weeks, perhaps months. Let me also say that if Bradley was a woman, most women I know would consider her one of those whiny, needy, extremely annoying types that make you change aisles when you see her heading your way behind a grocery cart.
Bradley’s teammate, Derrek Lee, called Bradley at home that night after the fight with Piniella, reassured him that all of his teammates liked him and urged him to come early to the game the next day and not to sulk.
If he was a woman, Lee would be heading up the most troublesome committee on the PTA, the kind of woman I could never be because I lack the patience. I would be much more likely to hurl expletives, a la Piniella, than to call Bradley and reassure him after that display.
The next day, Piniella apologized to Bradley for cursing at him, and told reporters he felt badly all evening.
“We won a ballgame yesterday and I didn’t enjoy the win at all,” Lou said. “I had dinner with my wife last night. It was on my mind all night. . . . It really took the joy out of winning a baseball game.”
This would be about the point where, if I was playing the Lou part, my husband would tell me to forget about it, that everything would be fine. In other words – he would be completely irritated that I would dwell on a silly argument all night and allow it to ruin dinner.
Piniella took Bradley into his office where Bradley said the two “shed some tears.”
“He didn’t feel good about the situation and neither did I,” Bradley said. “We had a heartfelt talk and we’re both the better for it.”
And finally, a female moment I can relate to.