(Long Island, NY) There are reasons why talented athletes are traded numerous times during their career. Especially ones that have lifetime numbers of a .298 batting average, almost 500 home runs and over 1,500 RBI.
Gary Sheffield was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1986 and traded to San Diego in 1992. One year later, he was on his way to Florida, where he actually lasted five-plus seasons before being dealt to Los Angeles in 1998. He was on the move again in 2002 when the Braves traded for him. In 2003, he signed with the Yankees as a free agent and was dealt to Detroit this past off-season.
Now he has gone on television and made ridiculous accusations. HBO’s “Real Sports” aired on Tuesday evening and included Sheffield’s ranting and raving to Andrea Kremer, which were ‘highlighted’ by the slugger claiming that Yankees manager Joe Torre treated him and the other black athletes differently than their white teammates.
Sheffield claimed that during team meetings, Torre would single him out in public while calling white players in his office for criticism. The inconsistent Sheffield did not call Torre a racist, but made his implications quite obvious.
“I’d see a lot of white players get called in the office and treated like a man. That’s the difference,” said Sheffield to Kremer.
When asked about Derek Jeter, the controversial slugger that he was not “all the way black.” Maybe Sheffield has forgotten that the Yankees have treated two players with kid gloves and gave them second chances. Those players? Former Mets Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, who just happens to be Sheffield’s uncle.
Torre is one of the most respected men in the game of baseball and Sheffield is well known as a malcontent and clubhouse cancer. When he was signed, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner went against his manager and general manager, Brian Cashman, and negotiated with the outfielder himself.
Perhaps Torre did not want Sheffield on his team and felt that he would do more bad than good. That has nothing to do with his race. It has to do with his big mouth and ability to breed controversy everywhere he goes. Also, during that off-season, the Yankees were interested in fellow free agent outfielder, Vladimir Guerrero, who eventually signed with the Angels. Guerrero is a difference maker and has won the AL MVP and Home Run Derby since then. If Torre wanted him instead of Sheffield, it should come as no surprise to anyone.
Sheffield should stop worrying about what was and start dealing with the present. Cashman did him a favor dealing him to the defending AL champions. And Sheffield is enjoying a very productive season, batting .311 with 22 home runs and 62 RBI in 86 games. The Tigers are also in first place of the AL Central, with Cleveland right behind.
How long before he wears out his welcome at Comerica Park? Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland knows Sheffield from their days in Florida together and may have a secret way of taking care of business in the clubhouse. Leyland is similar to Torre in the way that both have been around then game for a while and respected throughout. But sooner or later, the man called ‘Sheff’ will step on his ‘you-know-what.’