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The Cubs Convention is largely a feel-good session for fans, players, and media, heavy on hype and light on substance, but which element of Cubdom doesn't need an infusion of good vibes after the way last season ended? Yet this year's opening "Media Social" at the Cubs Convention produced one genuinely intriguing moment: the first meeting between manager Lou Piniella and mercurial new star Milton Bradley. (I have nothing to add to Justin Murphy's fine blog post on Bradley last week.)
Piniella, who had come in carrying a glass of white wine and quickly gave the food spread the once-over before handing the glass to Cub media director Peter Chase and getting his interview session started, was just finishing up when who should appear on deck just outside the semicircle of reporters but Bradley himself. "I've never met him," Piniella announced. "I've seen him play, though!" After answering a couple of last questions, he stepped through the reporters and presented himself to Bradley. "What's up, young fella?" he said. "Good seeing you. Nice to have you here." And they shared a big and seemingly sincere hug. One couldn't help thinking here was the Cubs' impending season in miniature: if these two infamously intense individuals complement each other as much as they're already complimenting each other, it could provide the added chemistry the Cubs seemed to lack last year. "First of all, we're very happy to have him," Piniella had already said when the subject of Bradley came up, then cited his hitting ability and on-base percentage. "We just have to keep him on the field." Bradley, for his part, seemed soft-spoken and optimistic when he took his turn with the media. His personal goals this season? "Win a championship," he said matter-of-factly. "That's pretty much it."
If these two get along all season as well as they did at the opening of the Cubs Convention, their intensity could prove infectious. And if not? If they get along more like Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson, or Bradley finds himself having to defend himself from charges of being injury prone? Have fun imagining what happens when these two attain critical mass.