When Milton Bradley grounded out with the tying run on second in the ninth inning of Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Nationals, the game ended.
But the real story was just beginning because Bradley refused to let it end.
The Bradley saga took another strange turn when the Cubs outfielder claimed the media "twisted" his comments Tuesday and Wednesday about being the victim of racial abuse from fans in Wrigley Field. It all started when Bradley was asked if he was "misunderstood."
"When the perception is out there about what kind of guy you're alleged to be, nobody gets to see when you're in here with 25 guys," he said. "Nobody wants to go talk with guys I played with and get the real story, so a bunch of people come in here for a couple of hours a day and want to ask you controversial questions, knowing you're going to give them a legit answer and twist everything around and make it a story.
"That's to be expected. That's life. That's the life I chose."
Bradley made headlines Wednesday when he was asked if the "hatred" he says he believes is directed toward him is racially tinged. He responded that "America doesn't believe in racism," and said he prays the game is only nine innings "so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home."
Cubs security said there has been no known incident of racial taunting of Bradley, and Bradley declined to give specifics.
So what did the media "twist?"
"Well, you know, there's not really any need to get into it because you can't win in this situation," he replied. "I'm not trying to win. I just go out there and give an honest answer. I don't know why people can't respect that or respect how you feel?
"You can't say that a person's feelings are wrong. That's one thing you can't do. And unless you've been paid $30 million to play right field for the Chicago Cubs, then you can't speak on how I might feel, so you don't know."
Asked again if the abuse he says he has been taking is racially motivated, Bradley replied: "Who knows? Stand out in right field with me one day and you'll see. Put on my Jordans one day and walk around and see life though my eyes. You could never do that. When it comes to issues like this, there's no way you can give a fair opinion because you just don't know, and that's the honest-to-God truth."
Cubs brass would prefer Bradley stop talking about critical fans and making hand gestures to mock fans who boo him. General manager Jim Hendry spoke to Bradley before the game Thursday but declined to comment on the conversation.
Whatever Hendry said, it didn't seem to work.
Bradley went on several tangents, discussing the health-related issues of some relatives and complaining about the media coverage of his controversial remarks, saying reporters "try to make all your focus about Milton Bradley."
He suggested the media talk to Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee or Geovany Soto, calling them "guys who have been here and have the politically correct answers for you. I just try to give it to you straight."
Lee said he never has experienced racial abuse at Wrigley Field, but has "heard" about it from other players. He added it was "unfair" to Bradley if he's hearing inappropriate remarks.
"No one should have to go through that, especially in this day and age," Lee said. "So you shouldn't be subjected to that. Fans are allowed to boo, but when you start getting racist, it's not OK."
Lee said he told Bradley "the best thing to do is let it go, because it's not indicative of his character. It's indicative of their character. So let them be foolish and ignorant, and it shouldn't bother us."
Manager Lou Piniella clearly is tired of the subject, especially given the Cubs' recent struggles.
"Who needs [that]?" he said. "We've had enough problems here with injuries and so forth, that we don't really need any more controversy of any sorts. That speaks for itself."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times