I go on vacation and the Dodgers take advantage -- naming the Screaming Meanie president of the team in the dark of night. I know if I was going to give my wife a promotion, that's the only time it would happen.
I'm fine with that, of course, because now Tom Lasorda will spend all of his time sucking up to her, leaving me alone to work for a change.
I go on vacation, though, and Milton Bradley and Jeff Kent get into it, and without me there to egg on two of my favorite characters. Bradley & Kent, now there is a fascinating pair, so volatile that the Micro Manager met with them in Florida, all right -- but separately.
Bradley doesn't like Kent, and Kent doesn't like anybody.
Bradley doesn't believe Kent knows "how to deal with African Americans." Kent said, "I take offense to that. That's just absolutely pathetic if it comes from his mouth."
Bradley said Kent has been a nag, criticizing him all season long until it became too much to take last week. We're talking progress here -- unless we hear differently, nothing was thrown.
"If somebody says to you, 'you're an idiot,' and laughs and walks away," Bradley said, "and comes back the next day and says 'you're an idiot' and looks you in the eye, and comes to you again and says 'you're an idiot' and stands there looking you in the face, pretty soon you're going to take that seriously."
Bradley said he was told by Jim Tracy, Paul DePodesta and Frank McCourt that he was the leader of the team. I'm guessing they told the same thing to Kent.
"If you're going to be a team leader, then you need to mingle with the team, associate with the team," Bradley said. "You can't have your locker in the corner of every clubhouse [when] we go on the road. You can't put your headphones on and sit in the corner and read a motocross magazine. That's not a team leader."
Bradley said when he tried to give a high five to Kent in Florida following a win, Kent declined. "How mature is that?" Bradley said.
Kent, meanwhile, said it never happened.
KENT, AS Bradley noted correctly, is in his own world. He prepares for a game like live ammo is being used, maintaining he learned how to conduct himself watching the grizzled veterans before him. He believes he leads by example, and if sitting alone in front of a locker looking like someone has just run over your cat ever catches on, I'll have to find Lasorda and ask him to tell me a few stories.
Kent leaves a lot to be desired in bedside manner. It's unclear if he has problems with African Americans, cantankerous columnists or just all human beings in general. His idea of celebrating after a home run is to touch home plate.
Bradley is raw emotion. He's the guy most likely to dig up home plate and fling it to the fans in victory. He also wants to be loved. You challenge Bradley, criticize him or reject him and he's going to strike back -- most likely going over the top.
He has made tremendous progress this season controlling the ugly side of his emotion, beginning the year as one of the Dodgers' best and most charismatic performers.
The chip on the shoulder, while a little smoother, remains, though. "That's all I do is get criticized," he said, and when I reminded him the media gushed about his play earlier this season, he said, "it was 100-1 -- negative to positive."
The world is against Milton Bradley, or so he still seems to think.
THE OBVIOUS solution, of course, is the Dodgers' "Kiss Cam" if we can only get the two lugs sitting together in the same time zone.
Kent can play on the same team with Bradley because he knows they don't ever have to talk. Bradley said he can play with Kent because he's the best second base option out there, and why wouldn't he want to play with such a good player?
"I watch him on the field and follow in his footsteps," Bradley said. "As far as off the field, he has no clue about leadership."
The Micro Manager tried to toss all this off as just another clubhouse squabble Tuesday, which would have satisfied the media, but Bradley insisted on making it a racial issue -- something he has done before when pressed to explain his behavior.
The "white media" he said, cannot get into his head, and so therefore it is incapable of understanding him. And yet, "in this case right here," Bradley said, "race is not an issue," so then, I asked, why bring it up?
He mentioned it twice in his initial remarks the day he and Kent had their run-in, and continued along those lines Tuesday. He said there is a "pattern of things" that suggests Kent does not know how to deal with players from different ethnic backgrounds.
He said Kent said nothing to racially offend him in Florida, but he said there have been "off-the-cuff remarks" in the clubhouse all season that have offended him. "They are funny to Jeff and Jeff Foxworthy, but not to Milton Bradley," he said.
He said, "there's always race in everything. You see, that's another thing, white people never want to see race with anything. There's race involved in baseball. That's why there is less than 9% African American representation in the game. I'm one of the few African Americans that start. I've been the only African American [until Edwin Jackson arrived] with the Dodgers."
I asked if he was trying to suggest the Dodgers were trying to keep the number of African American players in check, but he said no. He said the white media, though, portrays African American players differently. He said white players are "intense" or "fiery," but when "Milton Bradley does [something], he's a problem, he's a head case."
That's interesting, giving Kent and Bradley something in common after all, because Kent has maintained all season that he hasn't been portrayed correctly by the media.
\o7T.J. Simers can be reached at email@example.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.