Thursday, June 12, 2008

Into the Minds of Gritty & Clutch: Vol 1 -- On Racism, Tempers, and Forgiveness

The following is a transcript of Gritty and Clutch's reaction to the Milton Bradley / Royal Announcer Ryan Lefebvre story.

In it you can observe the inner workings of our brilliant minds as sports reactionaries, as well as our feelings as fans.

Of course, this was edited for clarity, accuracy, and readability where possible.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think:

[Gritty] [11:57 AM]: Milton Bradley Upset at Criticism of Temper, Spontaneously Explodes (attempted an attack on Ryan Lefebvre last night!!)

[Clutch] [11:59 AM]: Seriously? Wow.

[Gritty] [11:59 AM]: SERIOUSLY. Ryan compared him to Hamilton last night, saying something along the lines of "look how he [Hamilton] turned himself around...Bradley could learn something from him"

So immediately following the 11-5 royals debacle, Bradley bounds up 4 flights of stairs to confront (attack) Lefebvre, and is barely restrained by both his GM and his Manager. SERIOUSLY. I guess some time after that he was in the clubhouse balling his eyes out

[Clutch] [12:01 PM]: I just read the news report of it. First of all, Ryan Lefebvre's comments are rather prickish. Like, a lot prickish.

[Gritty] [12:01 PM]: Really? Did you hear/read the transcript?

[Clutch] [12:02 PM]: I'm reading what Ryan said he said. Lefebvre said all he was doing was complimenting Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and how he turned his life around. “He (Hamilton) has been accountable for his mistakes and how the baseball world are rooting for him, and Frank (White) and I were having a conversation about it’s a shame that it doesn’t appear Milton Bradley has done the same thing in his life.” Something smells foul about that entire comment anyway.

[Gritty] [12:03 PM]: I'm not sure how that's prickish, but I might be missing something. I heard it in context and it really didn't sound bad.

[Clutch] [12:04 PM]: Josh Hamilton had a cocaine and alcohol problem! Milton Bradley has a temper.

[Gritty] [12:04 PM]: The allusion was in regards to making amends for his mistakes.

[Clutch] [12:04 PM]: It's pretty obvious the implications of why America cheers for Josh Hamilton, when all he's really done is not do anything bad recently.

[Gritty] [12:04 PM]: He's gritty.

[Clutch] [12:04 PM]: Abso-freaking-lutely. They both just play baseball for a living. Milton Bradley actually hasn't done anything wrong this year except argue with an umpire heatedly.

[Gritty] [12:05 PM]: And ...

[Clutch] [12:05 PM]: And somehow he's compared to an ex lying, jail-dodging coke fiend? Of course he overreacted, but the whole thing screams racial bias and you know it.

[Gritty] [12:06 PM]: I hear ya for sure on that. I wish we could read the transcript it REALLY didn't sound like that in context.

[Clutch] [12:07 PM]: Me too, actually, but even Ryan's explanation of it still has me seething.

[Gritty] [12:07 PM]: Really?

[Clutch] [12:07 PM]: To me, yes. It's condescending and non-sensical. It's a shame he hasn't been able to turn his life around? That's pretty freaking bold.

[Gritty] [12:07 PM]: I'm not picking up on it, and I’m usually hypersensitive to race issues.

[Clutch] [12:07 PM]: Because he argued with an umpire and got in a fight with Jeff Kent?

[Gritty] [12:08 PM]: The original verbiage was "something that Bradley could learn from."

[Clutch] [12:08 PM]: Learn to smile and be white? It was ludicrous to compare the two in the first place.

[Gritty] [12:09 PM]: ...they're both baseball players on the same team, how dare they be compared?

[Clutch] [12:09 PM]: Something that Bradley could learn from? Gross and condescending. Sure, not "storm to the press box" gross or condescending.

[Gritty] [12:11 PM]: I can see why that would be taken out of context, but it isn't tripping my trigger at all. But i actually heard the passage this morning on the radio.

[Clutch] [12:11 PM]: It doesn't hurt that I think Ryan Lefebvre's an idiot. And I'm kind of a Milton Bradley apologist.

[Gritty] [12:12 PM]: And i have man crush on him!! And I dislike Bradley!! Ok so now we know our own biases let's meet in the middle.

[Clutch] [12:12 PM]: My question for you is, why do you dislike Bradley? Because he's angry?

[Gritty] [12:12 PM]: For his antics. I don't like any players, regardless of race, that treat the fans that way.

[Clutch] [12:13 PM]: What exactly has Bradley done to the fans?

[Gritty] [12:13 PM]: Haven't you heard of the water bottle incident?

[Clutch] [12:13 PM]: I remember that now. That seems relatively minor to me. I mean, it's not like Vince Coleman and his firecrackers. Either way, nothing actually happened. Yesterday, I mean. We don't actually know what Milton Bradley is going to say or do to Ryan Lefebvre if he gets there.

[Gritty] [12:15 PM]: That's a great point. Maybe he just wanted a hot cup of soothing tea?

[Clutch] [12:16 PM]: Obviously it's going to be a heated, emotional exchange.

[Gritty] [12:16 PM]: Perhaps he'd like to wax nostalgic about funny names and how they both got them?

[Clutch] [12:16 PM]: Don't be like that. Think of this.

[Gritty] [12:16 PM]: ...

[Clutch] [12:16 PM]: Outside of throwing a water bottle ... who has Milton Bradley attacked? Like actually physically struck?

[Gritty] [12:17 PM]: Well, I’m not sure that he ever has honestly.

[Clutch] [12:17 PM]: Exactly.

[Gritty] [12:17 PM]: Who can argue with that?

[Clutch] [12:18 PM]: Well, you can say he's a hotheaded jerk that acts like a child, and you'd be right. But if he's white, he's Billy Wagner. Just a consummate competitor, despite the fact that he's constantly throwing fits and his teammates under nearby busses.

[Clutch] [12:21 PM]: I think the thing is, is that Milton Bradley is obviously far from perfect. Heck, he doesn't even seem to be a GOOD guy. But to accept black athletes, we almost expect them to be perfect it seems.

[Gritty] [12:21 PM]: Really?

[Clutch] [12:21 PM]: It's hard to say, and I think it depends on the sport. But Milton hadn't done anything this year. And Hamilton hadn't done anything this year. One was a coke fiend; one has a temper and threw a water bottle.

[Gritty] [12:22 PM]: I think that most of us are hypersensitive when it comes to some of these things.

[Clutch] [12:22 PM]: And who's supposed to learn from who here?

[Gritty] [12:22 PM]: I dunno, man.

[Clutch] [12:22 PM]: Oh, it definitely touches my buttons.

[Gritty] [12:22 PM]: Right, and me too but this one doesn't do it for me. We really need that transcript.

[Clutch] [12:23 PM]: I'm really upset that he wanted to respond, because he really only proved them right. But I do see his point, even before I knew what happened.

[Gritty] [12:23 PM]: Why does that upset you?

[Clutch] [12:24 PM]: Because it takes away from a subtle message that, while unintentional, is harmful. That they want to like Hamilton, and they don't want to like Bradley.

(Food break. Gritty grabs a pathetic excuse for a Hot Pocket and momentarily enjoys it. Clutch pretends to work.)

[Gritty] [12:25 PM]: Let's pretend, just for the briefest of moments, that both are raceless, deal?

[Clutch] [12:26 PM]: Okay.

[Gritty] [12:27 PM]: One of them almost ruined his life with addiction to narcotics, but eventually conquered that and is having a great statistical year. Right?

[Clutch] [12:27 PM]: Sure.

[Gritty] [12:27 PM]: Okay. The other hasn't really done anything illegal, but has a history of being a bad teammate, a significant temper issue, and has been traded multiple times because of it (comparison to Jose Guillen appropriate here?).

[Clutch] [12:30 PM]: The bad teammate thing is questionable.

[Gritty] [12:31 PM]: Okay, strike it from the record.

[Clutch] [12:31 PM]: Jeff Kent notwithstanding.

[Gritty] [12:31 PM]: He has a significant temper issue that directly correlates to being traded from multiple teams, with the issue being visible to fans, other teams, umpires, and the media right? (and his own team)

[Clutch] [12:38 PM]: I would agree with that. But, all you have to do is read what you wrote again for both of them.

[Gritty] [12:41 PM]: So I read both of what I wrote again and I ask is it not clear why one would be rooted for and one would be despised, the racial issue obviously contributing?

[Clutch] [12:42 PM]: It depends on how you sell the story of the first. I could write it as an entitled scumbag who was above the system because he had talent.

[Gritty] [12:42 PM]: Well, if you call him a wife-beating drug dealer that murders children and hates puppies... ooh that's good. I think i'm saying that illegal NON-PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING drugs and dealing with addiction is a much softer sell than, "man struggles with family issues and deals with temper on the field".

Both can be sold either way but one is clearly more digestible by the public and being white --gritty-- helps. One, addiction, is a solo journey that can crush dreams. The worst impact on the team is that the player isn't available, costs the team money, team loses because of missing talent.

[Clutch] [12:46 PM]: (pretending to work)

[Gritty] [12:46 PM]: The other, temper, is a public journey experienced by all, especially when on film, and comes with zero back-story. The public has no idea why he's so upset at everyone and has sided against him because he's not just blowing up at umpires or teammates, but now fans and announcers.

The worst impact on the team is that the player becomes a locker room "cancer," costs the team future calls from the same offended umpire, builds up an anti-fanbase, gets suspended, potentially gets traded, costs the team money, team loses because of missing talent.

[Clutch] [12:50 PM]: Let's take it outside the confines of a baseball field And tell me what happens if you stand in front of a judge and say you bought a kilo of cocaine. And if you threw a water bottle.

[Gritty] [12:51 PM]: Ok. In the interest of keeping it sane…let's pretend the judge is the [crowd of] fans behind the right field wall. There's no debate which is more legal (or less) but clearly one is less understood by the public.

Look at the love affair with Robert Downey Jr. ...

[Clutch] [12:52 PM]: And we don't actually know the details of Josh Hamilton's story.

[Gritty] [12:52 PM]: ... but then how much Russell Crowe is hated.

[Clutch] [12:53 PM]: Who knows? Let's ask this: how does the public feel about Doc Gooden or Darryl Strawberry?

[Gritty] [12:53 PM]: We do know that he wasn't on camera doing them.

[Clutch] [12:53 PM]: At least not on the camera of a nationally televised baseball game, anyway.

[Gritty] [12:53 PM]: Strawberry is forgiven. Lawrence Taylor is forgiven.

[Clutch] [12:54 PM]: I gotcha.

[Gritty] [12:54 PM]: Michael Irvin is forgiven. Terrell Owens is an asshole. See what I mean?

[Clutch] [12:54 PM]: But I'm not sure that's the real measure of whether someone's a decent person or teammate or not.

[Gritty] [12:54 PM]: Of course not.

[Clutch] [12:54 PM]: Basically, we're okay with what they do as long as they entertain us and smile for the cameras.

[Gritty] [12:54 PM]: But that's not the debate, brother.

[Clutch] [12:54 PM]: Because at the end of the day ... It's entertainment.

[Gritty] [12:55 PM]: Right. Drugs > Tempers.

[Clutch] [12:56 PM]: Would be my guess that he's obviously extremely sensitive and not very good at dealing with being a public figure. That's really obviously his biggest flaw. I'm not sure I'd do so well either.

[Gritty] [12:57 PM]: In the interest of conclusion, and because I’m a sadist, let's go back to the original comments by Ryan Lefebvre. Ok, he was saying that Hamilton had "turned his life around" and is now loved by the public, something "Bradley could learn from." here is where I think we stand:

1. Stupid comparison, probably subtly (subconsciously?) racist.
2. The public loves people that overcome challenges.

[Clutch] [12:59 PM]: "There was no incident," Daniels said. Upon returning to the clubhouse, Bradley screamed at teammates and broke down in tears. "I'm tired of people bringing me down," Bradley said.

"It wears on you. I love you guys, all you guys. I'm strong, but I'm not that strong. All I want to do is play baseball and make a better life for my kid than I had."Several of Bradley's teammates consoled him after he calmed down.

[Gritty] [12:59 PM]:

3. Drugs off screen are easier to forgive than temper issues on screen.

And yeah, I read that.

[Clutch] [12:59 PM]: That doesn't make you like the guy just a little more? And makes me realize that he's really screwed up.

The funny thing is? The Milton Bradley spontaneously combusting article sounded hilarious. I wanted to write it so bad.

(Sometime around here one or both of us pretended to go back to work, while the other started writing another article. Hmmm)


  1. Notes:

    1. Jason Whitlock has a great article regarding the story. Go read it.

    2. In the effort of full disclosure, Clutch has revealed that he once drafted Bradley to his team on his copy of MLB THE SHOW, and he did amazingly well.

    3. Anybody that is suggesting that Hamilton is currently a better player than Bradley only need compare their OPS.

    4. The full text of the remarks in question are now available and really help to put this in perspective.

    5. Bradley has since said "I only wanted to introduce myself..." which makes my having-tea comment a littler less funny. Or more.

  2. Actually, it was an Out of the Park simulation league back when he was with the Dodgers. But yeah.

  3. There was something else I wanted to fully disclose, but I can't remember what it was. :(

  4. Cool article. I like the style you guys use.

    The thing is, this isn't a race issue. Milton Bradley is a big-time jerk. Regardless if he's black or white, he's bad for the game. His antics are uncalled for. He's known to be an anger-filled moron, with past altercations with fans, umpires and fellow teammates.

    Anyway, keep up the good work guys.