Quite a bit has been made recently about Lastings Milledge being a “cancer in the clubhouse.” While this could be true, I think fans are dismissing him pretty quickly based entirely on reputation. It did not help that his arrival meant the departure of Nyjer Morgan, a favorite among fans and teammates (and virtually everyone else that has ever known him). Anyway, Dejan lists the known transgressions in Milledge’s past in the PG’s article on the trade. Let’s take a look at them.
In 2007, Milledge performed on a profanity-laced rap album that prompted one New York city councilman to declare, “He’s lost his mind.”
Does anyone care about this? Is this the first time anyone has ever made a profane rap album? Has anyone ever listened to the vocabulary of an average major league player?
The previous year, he followed his first major league home run with a victory lap of high-fives with Shea Stadium fans.
From what I understand about this incident, he high-fived some fans on his way out to right field the next inning. It was not exactly a Cal Ripken type of victory lap. In fact, this action seems pretty Nyjer-ish.
Going back further, he was expelled from Northside Christian School in Florida amid allegations of inappropriate behavior with a 15-year-old girlfriend.
There does not seem to be much public information on this vague incident. Since I don’t know much about it, I will not claim that it is not a big deal. It very well might be an extremely big deal. Or maybe a high school boy was caught making out with a high school girl in the stairwell. I just don’t see any indication that this incident that occurred when Milledge was in high school will tear apart the clubhouse chemistry.
Milledge opened this season as the Nationals’ leadoff man, but it took only seven games — as well as a 4-for-24 slump and two missed team meetings — to tick off manager Manny Acta. He was sent down to Class AAA Syracuse, with no return trip scheduled.
That 4-for-24 slump is totally irrelevant. I don’t support a player skipping meetings, but if that is the worst thing Milledge has done, I think his attitude issues have been blown out of proportion.
Maybe Milledge will turn out to be a cancer in the clubhouse. I have no idea. What I do know is that I did some pretty stupid things in my early twenties. Most people have. Just because Milledge spent that part of his life as a celebrity in New York City does not automatically make him a bad person.