SEATTLE – I guess I didn’t understand.
I thought that when the Seattle Mariners traded for Milton Bradley last December, they were acquiring the spray-hitting outfielder who had such a good season with Texas a couple of years ago. I didn’t realize they actually were acquiring a backlog of board games marketed by the company of the same name.
Then again, I guess I should have known. After all, they only had to give up Carlos Silva in return.
(By the way, did anyone notice that the Biggest Carlos-er gave up just a run in a six-inning quality start for the Cubs the other day? So he’s the front-runner for 2010 Mariners Refugee of the Year.)
Anyway, since the M’s so far seem to be a little short on amusements – to say nothing of clutch, situational or just plain hitting – it’s a good thing Milton has the goods to keep us entertained. So give the dice a roll and take a ride on the Reading:
•Risk – General manager Jack Zduriencik bets it all on his Ultimate Zone Rating All-Stars being able to catch every opponent’s batted ball in lieu of actually, you know, scoring runs.
•Stratego – At the meeting with umpires at home plate before the game, M’s manager Don Wakamatsu filches the visiting manager’s lineup card and turns in both cards as his own – the other team’s to hit and his to field.
•Bonkers! – In spring training, outfielder Milton Bradley tells a reporter, “If I was a musician, I’d be Kanye West. If I was in the NBA, I’d be Ron Artest. In baseball, they’ve got Milton Bradley. I’m that guy. You need people like me so you can point your finger and go, ‘There goes the bad guy.’ ”
•Shenanigans – In his first week on the job, Bradley splinters his bat pounding it into the ground in frustration after a strikeout and flips the bird to hecklers in Texas.
•Sorry! – “We talked about not fueling the fire,” says Wakamatsu after a sit-down with Bradley. “There’s people going to be looking for him and I understand that, but lead by example. He was remorseful.”
•Operation – Bradley considers amputating his middle fingers to avoid further incidents.
•Clue – Desperately searching for more hitting, the M’s sign a free agent. It’s Colonel Mustard … in the dugout … with a candlestick.
•Candy Land – Though no one dares utter the name “Plumpy,” Ken Griffey Jr. takes a suggestion from teammate Chone Figgins and marks the start of the 2010 season by giving up sugary sodas. Alas, it also seems to coincide with him giving up runs batted in.
•Jenga – Contrary to the usual rules, the M’s add a bat to the stack every time they hit a home run. Their pennant hopes topple over before the tower does.
•Twister – Up close with Ichiro Suzuki’s pregame stretching routine.
•Go to the Head of the Class – After a 2-6 start and an endless litany of “it’s early” or “it’s only one game,” Doug Fister pitches the M’s to a dramatic victory and proclaims, “That’s all we needed. We needed one thing to go right for us and that was it. We’re on a roll now.”
•Scrabble – Can the Mariners make something out of a rack that includes the letters, “DPKBBPBSBWP?”
•Ants in the Pants – In his first postgame meeting with the press as a Mariner, Bradley spins to face his questioners and says, “Let’s get this over with.”
•Don’t Spill the Beans – Bradley teams up with Erik Bedard for his next press availability.
•Apples and Oranges – Now playing with his eighth major league team in 10 years – almost all the stops ending badly – Bradley claims that “it’s easy to come here every day. The guys are great. Top to bottom, there’s support in the organization. That’s something I really can’t say I’ve had my entire career. I just feel like I’m in such a better place.”
•Yahtzee! – After 20 consecutive scoreless innings, the M’s beat Oakland on Tuesday night.
•Connect 4 – The winning hit: a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning by Milton Bradley, who jumps on home plate and clasps his hands skyward in what seems to be mixed gesture of relief and thanks.
•Boggle – “Don’t interpret,” he snaps when asked about it. “It’s personal.”
•The Game of Life – “I think he’s found a comfort level with this ballclub,” says Wakamatsu.