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Bradley’s Apologetic, but He Still Needs Help

Walking the Dogs all the way to the finish line....

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For those folks who e-mailed to say it’s wrong to throw a bottle on the field, thank you for that insight. More on you dopes in a moment.

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THE DAY after the eruption of Mt. Milton, instead of immediately driving Milton Bradley to an anger management specialist, the Dodgers had him standing before the media to save Dodger face and his own Dodger career, apologetically accepting a five-game suspension so he can return good as new for the playoffs.

Then the Dodgers took him down the tunnel leading to the clubhouse to stand next to Vin Scully for a taped interview to be used before the game.

Scully announced Bradley’s suspension with Bradley standing beside him -- I presume because Mother Teresa is dead -- and told Bradley it was obvious he had been “pushed over the edge,” and then relayed a line to Bradley he said he liked from a writer [Jim Bishop]: “Only saints want justice; the rest of us want mercy.”

Bradley and Scully parted without any punches being thrown, and then Bradley and I chatted.

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He said I wrote a nice story about him, and I didn’t say, “Never again,” because I saw how angry he can get.

“All this might be a blessing in disguise and bring us closer together as a team,” Bradley said.

Earlier the Boston Parking Lot Attendant told the media maybe “it’s a blessing in disguise” that Bradley flipped out and now he has the chance to be a really good human being -- just in time for the playoffs.

The Micro Manager said maybe “it’s a blessing in disguise” that Bradley went ballistic because now he has a shot to return a new man for the playoffs.

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Makes you wonder if the Dodgers hired someone to toss that bottle on the field so we could have this blessed event to prepare Bradley for the playoffs.

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BRADLEY CHATTED with Magic Johnson by telephone before meeting with the media, and listened as Johnson told him about his Paul Westhead experience, the booing he heard in L.A., the time he pushed a ref and the regret he later felt.

Bradley’s mother, meanwhile, was on the radio lovingly defending her son and telling the audience he has been working to control himself. She said she advised him to break his bat when he got angry from striking out, which explains why he has been going through bats like some people go through toothpicks.

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Bradley has now come to the conclusion, though, that instead of breaking bats, he’ll get professional help for his inability to control his emotions.

(Or then again maybe the Dodgers refused to buy him any more bats).

His mother said that “Milton has been to anger management before,” and after talking to the doctor about what upsets him, “The doctor told him, ‘That would make anybody angry.’ ”

Bradley confirmed he has attended anger management classes in the past, and he said he came away from those sessions, “Thinking I had no problem.

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“I thought I could do it on my own and did for a few months, but things caused me to regress. It hurt when the fans went against me, and I got upset.”

Several people e-mailed to say a fan began heckling Bradley after the error, and with expletives deleted here, Bradley told him to shut up. A short time later a bottle landed more than 20 feet from Bradley, fueling Bradley’s rage and giving him the prop to use to release it.

He said Tuesday was the worst day of his life, and he didn’t sleep all night, which had to make him cranky. I’m sure he was dehydrated, too, but I didn’t see anyone offering him a bottle of water.

“You know how you’ve come to me in the past and asked if I had any regrets about something I did?” Bradley said. “And how I said, ‘No’ each time?”

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(I asked him recently about grabbing his crotch while pointing angrily at a St. Louis pitcher and being caught on TV, and he had said, not once, but two days in a row he didn’t care that kids had witnessed such a thing.)

“I regret this, and I’m sorry,” he said. “All I ever wanted to do was be a Dodger, but I’ve let a lot of people down.”

I nodded.

Then, as he began to leave, he added, “Don’t lose faith in me.”

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THE E-MAIL response to Bradley’s temper tantrum was interesting if not disturbing, and divided primarily into two groups. One batch came from folks who think all professional athletes are prima donnas, insisting Bradley should never again be allowed to put on a Dodger uniform.

That was never a consideration, given his popularity in the clubhouse, his talent as a player and the upcoming playoffs.

Much of the e-mail, however, went like this: “I believe you were too harsh in your comments. I wish other fans had chastised the slob who threw the bottle. Bradley shows passion and that’s welcome after watching the Lakers.

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“I applaud his efforts and hope to see similar intensity as the playoff games progress.”

Someone throws a bottle and they should be arrested -- duh. But the thrown bottle had little to do with the rage that was boiling in Bradley after striking out earlier and dropping the fly.

If it wasn’t a bottle, Bradley would’ve probably gone into the Dodger tunnel and started whacking on the walls with a bat, and somewhere down the road there would’ve been a bottle. Tuesday night was all about Bradley, the anger that sometimes threatens to consume him, and the undeniable fact he needs help.

We already know the guy who tossed the bottle needs help.

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Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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