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Derrek Lee is sick of the Marlon Byrd-Milton Bradley comparisons

Feb 27, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT

Derrek Lee swinging.jpgIt’s been one of the more predictable and boring storylines early in camp, as referenced here and here, and Derrek Lee has already had enough. During an appearance on a Chicago radio show, the Cubs first baseman said the following regarding the Byrd-Bradley comparisons:

“It’s ridiculous,” Lee told Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on ESPN
1000’s “Talkin’ Baseball” Saturday morning. “If it was a white guy who
came over [to the Cubs] would he be [called] the ‘anti-Milton Bradley’?
It just makes no sense. Marlon’s a completely different guy. He wasn’t
traded for Milton. He signed here as a free agent, so why even bring
Milton Bradley’s name into it? It really makes no sense and it’s just,
again, the media trying to make something out of nothing.”

It would be pretty reckless to couple Byrd with Bradley based solely on race, and I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of that in the press. They’ve been stressing the contrast, if anything. I can’t help but think that these comparisons were inevitable, even if the Cubs signed Rick Ankiel or Scott Podsednik, but the fact that the two were teammates in Texas plays into this, at least a little bit.

While this is ultimately a needless distraction, Lee laments that comments by former Cubs Bradley and Jacque Jones could keep other African-American players away from Chicago:

“It’s definitely not a positive when you’re looking at coming to
Chicago,” Lee said. “But I think overall, the positives do outweigh the
negatives and we’re baseball players, so we’re pretty good at kind of
blocking out all of that outside stuff and focusing on in between the
lines. And in between the lines, Chicago’s a good place to play.”

Kerry Wood recently acknowledged that he personally witnessed African-American players who received hate mail during his time with the Cubs, but it would be very dangerous to single out Chicago when we know that this goes on in other places. We just don’t hear about it.

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  8. Mark - Mar 6, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    When I compare Bradley with Byrd, Race has nothing to do with it. It’s only a matter of performance, attitude, and commaradarie with Lou and the rest of the ball club. Bradley can blame Chicago as much as he wants for his poor ’09 performance. He was practically a loner in the clubhouse in the end before the suspension. Marlin Byrd has a great attitude. He encourages the other players to listen to new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo because he knows him and believes in him. He’s probably the biggest center fielder in baseball, but he has speed. And that will keep Fukodome in right where he is more comfortable.

  9. Aaron W - Mar 15, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    Any comparisons between Milton Bradley and Marlon Byrd are made by barstool know-it all’s, uniformed baseball pundits, and sports writers looking in the wrong direction for an angle. Outside of both players being African American and having played for the Rangers when having their career seasons, they are absolutely nothing alike as players or as men.
    Milton Bradley is on his best days a hypercompetitive misanthrope with good .OBP skills. His defense is below average, despite his athleticism, and his knack for winding up on the D.L. ultimately hurts any team that depends on him to field a position. His penchant for wearing out his welcome in every city that he’s played is a testament to his inability to gel with a team. As one scout said of Bradley, “He’s the only high school player I’ve ever scouted that hit a home run and nobody on his bench even stood up or cheered.” In short, Bradley is (to put it kindly) a socially maladjusted player with a fierce prediliction for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in front of cameras and microphones.
    Marlon Byrd, on the other hand, is an outgoing clubhouse presence and a dependable ‘team first’ player. He’s immensely coachable, a plus defender, and has steadily improved his offensive tools. As a #4 OF from 2004-2008, Byrd has been a hard-working gym rat and a student of hitting. Under the teachings of Rudy Jaramillo in Texas, he learned how to drive the ball and take better control of the strike zone. As a defender, he had only 3 errors in 146 games last year. While he may never match Bradley’s natural gifts, Byrd is a better team player and has made himself into a better all-around player than Bradley is ever likely to be.
    Personally, I find the comparisons to be idiotic. They are not comparable players (beyond power production numbers), they were not brought to Chicago for the same reasons, and are not counted on to provide the same type of roles. D. Lee has every right to say whatever he wants about idiotic comparisons about two very different players.

  10. Evergreen - Mar 20, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    Look, Lee is one of the better guys in the game, but really – who ‘compares’ Byrd with Bradley? As near as I can tell, Byrd has been liked & respected as a decent guy everywhere he’s been [of course, we know Bradleys story]. If people are trying to link the two together just ’cause they’re both black, then yeah, that’s pretty dumb. But I dont imagine it happens often, the comparison just doesnt make sense on any level.

  11. Keith_Marine - Mar 23, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    I grew up and worked as an Andy Frain usher while in high school prior to the Marines. I was honored to walk Roberto Clemente to the pressbox (though it took awhile because he shook hands with everybody). Ernie Banks was my hero and Billy Williams and Fergie were right behind him; I wonder how they felt playing for the Cubs and how the fans treated them. Ernie not only wanted to play two, but he signed autographs endlessly, while making a lot less money then he deserved. Loved George Altman and Tony Taylor, too. Everybody, just give it a rest and GOOO CUBBIES!!!

  12. otis - Mar 29, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    hey, it’s not Chicago that’s racist, but Wrigley Field. Wrigley tends to draw a lot of tourists from the midwest and ass clown frat boys who think nothing about spewing garbage after a few beers. Significant contrast on the South Side. White Sox fans have warmly received and celebrated people of color, not just african-americans ( Big Hurt, Jermaine Dye) Latino (Aparacio, Carasquel, Minnie, Magglio, Ozzie) and Asians (Shingo Takatsu, Iguichi) but management, supporting minorities in upper management— Kenny Williams as GM, Ozzie and Jerry Manuel as manager. Contrast the rocky tenures of Dan Baylor and Dusty Baker (who als received hate mail) on the north side, as well as some of the racist crap that Fukudome had to put up with, with racist t-shirts being peddled outside of Wrigley until the team told the vendors to cease and desist. Sure there are racist idiots in every park you get to, but when you start hearing stories about Chicago, note that the incidents have almost always been on the north side. In contrast, the White Sox have tended to draw a working class fan base that’s grown up with other races over the decades— at an average White Sox game you’ll see a lot more Latino and African-American fans, than the frat-boy and trixie fans you see at Cub games.

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