Our reporting relies on your support. Contribute today! 

Help us reach our goal of $250,000. The countdown is on!

Pope John Paul II, who understood the value of television coverage in his many world travels, once explained that if an event wasn’t on TV, it didn’t happen.

He welcomed TV coverage, because that’s how modern-day society filters news.

That brings me to Sunday’s Milton Bradley meltdown with the Padres and the LaDainian Tomlinson-Philip Rivers sideline disagreement with the Chargers.

Maybe before the age of ESPN, the Internet and YouTube, Bradley charging umpire Mike Winters and being thrown to the grown by manager Bud Black, who apparently relied on hockey instincts from his father’s minor-league career, wouldn’t have received so much attention.

For example, in 1998, the Giants’ Charlie Hayes was thrown to the ground by then-manager Dusty Baker as Hayes charged Winters over an incident. Do you remember video being played over and over?

If it wasn’t on TV, in the minds of the public, it didn’t happen. These things have always happened in sports, but we see it more and want to interpret it.

Without the video, maybe Winters doesn’t get suspended, a rare move by Major League Baseball officials. Baseball couldn’t ignore that Padres first base coach Bobby Meacham said Winters called Bradley “a bleeping piece of (expletive).”

The comment understandingly outraged Bradley, but something overlooked in account of the video is Bradley isn’t just being restrained by Meacham and Black. Bradley is physically trying to throw Meacham and Black aside to get to Winters.

Thank goodness he’s so good at hitting a baseball, because imagine what he would be hitting if he went ballistic toiling in the real world.

As for Tomlinson and Rivers, something Jim Harbaugh told me, when he was still coaching at the University of San Diego, about his days playing makes it easy to accept Tomlinson and Rivers when they say it was a meaningless moment of competitive fire.

Milton Bradley Photo: San Diego Padres.

Harbaugh, who played for volatile coach Mike Ditka with the Chicago Bears in the NFL and for equally volatile Bo Schembechler in college at Michigan, once locked tempers with Ditka in a sideline argument caught on TV.

“I only had one sideline incident with him, but it was famous,” Harbaugh said. “To me, it was just a coach yelling at a player. That happened to me 100 times at Michigan. But at Michigan, I just said, ‘OK, coach.’ I didn’t say anything.”

In other words, college kids don’t argue; men do.

One reason Tomlinson and Rivers dismissed attaching significance to the disagreement is he said it happens more than fans realize.

“Across the league, that might have once a weekend on a field where both people are competitive we both hate to lose,” Rivers said.

Another reason is both Tomlinson and Rivers explained what led to their frustration as opposed to saying they didn’t want to talk about something they might want to hide.

“He ran a swing route backside, and they (the defense) dropped him,” Rivers said. “I’m working a two-man game with (Antonio) Gates and missed him over his head. If I get him that ball, it’s a first down. Five minutes later it was forgotten about.”

Added Tomlinson, “You want the other guy to understand your perspective. Sometimes it looks like arguing, but it’s competitive conversation. It wasn’t a problem. We were just discussing a play. I wanted him to look for me on a certain play. I felt they were doing something, reading his eyes. Philip wanted to make it his point clear he has a certain progression. I understand that he has a progression. We talked about it after the game.”

TV showed us what we need to know about Bradley: He’s a man so nuclear he can explode to the point hurting his first base coach and manager, two men trying to defend him.

But TV showed us more than we need to know about Tomlinson and Rivers, two men that went back to work.

— TOM SHANAHAN

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.