Don’t Worry About Milton Bradley’s Ejections

Mar 24, 2010, 4:07 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:51 pm

By Mike Salk

It’s been a week now since Milton Bradley was ejected from consecutive games for allegedly arguing balls and strikes. It appeared in both cases that Bradley did not act in such a way as to deserve the ejections so everyone started wondering why they occurred. Was it umpire retribution? Was Bradley’s bad reputation preceding him? Did he do something we didn’t see or say something we couldn’t hear?

After some investigating, it appears as if Bradley may have gotten caught in a typical spring training perfect storm.

According to people in baseball, the days of umpires targeting specific players is over. The league has succeeded in making the umpires keep their grudges out of the ejection process. What’s more, Bradley hasn’t had a specific umpire run-in in over two years. So it makes no sense that he is being targeted in spring training now.

Instead, consider this:

Umpires at spring training games are often a mix of major leaguers and guys from the minor leagues looking to move up. In fact, it is understood in baseball that big league players try to get away with as much as they can with the minor league umpires, even in spring training. They know who is behind the plate and the ump’s background, even when the games don’t count.

Furthermore, the minor league umpires know that they are being evaluated for possible promotions. They need to show that they are in charge of the game on the field and they need the respect of their colleagues as well.

When you put that together with Bradley’s reputation for trying to push limits, should it come as a surprise that of the two umpires that tossed him, one was a minor leaguer and the other made his major league debut last year?

Both umpires (Jon Merry and Dan Bellino) are products of the Pacific Coast League (AAA). Merry is still there, Bellino worked the big leagues for the first time last year. It would reason that Bradley tried to get away with a little extra and both guys over-reacted in an attempt to prove they could not be intimidated.

So what should we conclude here?

I’d say this is good news. If Bradley wasn’t the target of a mass umpire conspiracy, then he shouldn’t be at any particular risk of being tossed in the regular season. And what’s more, he took both ejections without blowing a gasket – a good sign that he is under control and feeling comfortable in the environment created in the Mariners’ clubhouse. That works for me!

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Don’t Worry About Milton Bradley’s Ejections