Must-click link: “This is what domestic abuse looks like”

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Former big leaguer Milton Bradley was a combustable presence on the field and a violent man off of it. We knew this because we read the news reports of his multiple arrests and controversies. Anyone who remembers him will remember him as a bad guy.

But even if we knew that he was a bad guy, we probably didn’t think too hard about how bad a guy he was. I think we do that with most athletes who get in trouble, actually. We think of players as good seeds or bad seeds and think the good guys are generally all alike and the bad guys are generally all alike. But we don’t think too hard about the specific behavior which gets a guy labeled a bad seed. Especially guys who aren’t in the game anymore. Was he the drunk guy or the guy who was caught with the prostitute? Was he the guy who got in the bar fights or the guy who hit his wife that time? It all blends together to some extent. They aren’t important people to our daily lives. They’re just jocks and entertainers.

Sometimes, however, we’re reminded of just how bad a seed someone can be. Today we’re reminded of how bad Milton Bradley is in the form of this article in Sports Illustrated. It’s not an editorial. It’s not an argument against him or a profile of him. It’s nothing more than four pages setting forth legal records, and straightforward testimony — interspersed with some factual context from the news — about his abuse of his late wife, Monique Bradley.  Some of it is her testimony in legal proceedings or affidavits. Some of it are Bradley’s own statements. All of it paints a horrifying picture of what life was like for Monique Bradley and her children as a result of Milton Bradley’s violence, threats and abuse.

If you go back and Google Bradley, you quickly learn of his arrests for beating and attempting to strangle his wife. His eventual conviction for domestic violence, which included battery, assault with a deadly weapon and death threats. You learn that, in September 2013, Monique Bradley died at the age of 33. This is all information that, even if we forgot or never knew, we can quickly ascertain without much effort. We can obtain basic information like this about all of the other bad seeds too. And then we can, as we so often and somewhat understandably do, forget what few details we know and go on with our own lives.

But after learning the details of Milton Bradley’s violence as set forth in this article, it’ll be much, much harder to forget them. And much, much harder for anyone who reads them to casually dismiss the next athlete we hear of who commits an act of domestic violence as one of the many bad seeds around, worthy of no more scrutiny than the other bad seeds.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.