August 14, 2007

YOUR MILLEDGE MAY VARY:

Loud, proud and unbowed: Mets' Milledge says he can't help but be impetuous, spirited self (JEREMY COTHRAN, 8/14/07, Newark Star-Ledger)

The 6-0, 205-pound Milledge is a five-tool super-talent who has had scouts, managers and baseball executives salivating over him since he was a high school star in Florida -- hence the attitude that oozes cockiness. That carries over to the playing field, the place Milledge views as his personal stage for providing jaw-dropping entertainment.

"Even though it's a job, you've got to have fun," said Milledge, who is batting .309 and has made several highlight-worthy catches as the Mets' fourth outfielder. "It's a long, long season."

Meanwhile, the locker catty-corner from Milledge's belongs to another player who also struts through the clubhouse -- gleaming with five-figures' worth of diamonds, designer T-shirts with "Urban Prince" stenciled on the chest and personalized, detailed greetings as if he were the president of the Dominican Republic.

"Dime loco! Que lo que?" Jose Reyes often shouts in Dominican slang to his Spanish-speaking teammates. (Translation: Tell me something, crazy dude. What's going on?)

Any comparisons between Reyes and Milledge are purely superficial. Both are hip and gregarious, quick to flash megawatt smiles. Both have a love for urban culture and have an affinity for rap music. Milledge, who is black, produces hip-hop on his own label; Reyes has collaborated with several reggaeton artists. They often walk toward the batter's box to the sound of bounce-worthy songs they have helped create.

But unlike Reyes, Milledge can't catch a break. His style of play has made him a target for opposing pitchers, who get their message across with 90-plus fastballs aimed at various body parts, and for some members of his own clubhouse, who stick to pointed comments or sharply written notes.

Billy Wagner exacerbated that point recently when he declared that "he would have drilled" Milledge for his on-field antics against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 24, when Milledge comically waved John Maine home after the pitcher hit his first career home run.

"There's a time and place for excitement: a game-winning home run, a big hit," Wagner said. "I don't know. I come from the age where you're supposed to act like you've been there before. You put that bull's-eye on yourself when you jump around and celebrate."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 14, 2007 9:11 AM
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