October 27, 2006
This baseball fan appreciates a player who can tolerate injury, strike fear into a pitcher, hit home runs consistently, and change positions to help his team. Gary Sheffield has played through pain, got hits off big name pitchers, switched from right field to first base for the Yankees after coming off the disabled list, and has 455 career home runs. With that said, he needs to be traded, and fast. Jim Baumbach of Newsday reports that the Yankees are planning to just that, trade him.
In baseball, there are many "unwritten" rules. You don't make the third out at third base, you don't swing on a "3 and 0" count, you don't steal bases when you're five runs ahead, and you don't criticize Joe Torre when he's your manager. Following the Yankees early ejection from the playoffs after their loss to the Detroit Tigers, Gary Sheffield was quoted in an article by Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY as saying "We were worrying about all of that stuff, and we still had a game to play. If I'm on the other side, and all of a sudden they're putting Rodriguez eighth and putting me or Jason on the bench, you wonder what's going on. Those guys [the Tigers] were asking me about it. I think it boosted their morale. It gave them confidence they didn't have."
One can either agree or disagree with that statement. But what should be universally accepted is that no matter where Joe Torre batted Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, or anyone else for that matter, after game one, the Yankee's bats fell silent. That's what the Tigers sensed. They knew that their pitching was better than the Yankee's pitching; and everyone, including baseball players, know that in the post season, pitching matters more than hitting. You don't blame a Hall of Fame bound manager for the shortcomings of the entire team.
What makes Sheffield's comments distasteful is his timing. Immediately after the Yankees elimination from post season play, it was reported by Bill Madden of the New York Daily News that Torre's job was on the line. Reporter's everywhere smelled blood in the water while George Steinbrenner mulled his longest tenured manager's fate. So what did Sheffield do? He threw Joe Torre to the sharks. His statement reeks of poor sportsmanship.
As reported by Baumbach, the Yankees are going to pick up Sheffield’s $13 million option in order to trade him. Sheffield finds himself in this untenable situation due to his ineptitude while acting as his own manager. Having failed to have a no trade clause included into his contract during his negotiations with "The Boss", Sheffield now has no say in where he winds up. It seems that the "Sheff" cooked up his own "just dessert". Which team he ends up on is up to Brian Cashman. When he gets there, he can waggle his tongue all he wants, much the same way he waggles his bat.