Since this topic has been mentioned in comments to another entry here, I thought I would offer an opinion on it.
Today, over at SI.com, Jon Heyman wrote the following:
Let’s get this straight: Alex Rodriguez gets ripped like Dean Martin at closing time for casually mentioning that he has played hurt this season — and those close to A-Rod say he weathered a nagging groin injury and food poisoning in Detroit — and yet his long-sidelined teammate Gary Sheffield gets a pass for publicly pledging he won’t play through pain?
Sheffield’s attitude stinks, a fact no one ever mentions. His free pass continues. It’s like nobody remembers he took steroids, either. (Sheffield told SI’s Tom Verducci in October 2004 that he unknowingly took the Clear and the Cream and has denied allegations in the book Game of Shadows that he took injectable testosterone and human growth hormone.) The only difference between Sheffield and his ex-workout partner Barry Bonds is that Bonds is closing in on an all-time record. Yet there’s no criticism for Sheffield, no investigation involving Sheffield, no feds chasing Sheffield.
It’s a wonder the media cut him so much slack. Maybe they fear Sheffield. Or maybe they fear losing him as a quote; you never know what he might say next.
Here’s the deal with Sheffield. In 2004, he was playing on one arm – and gave the Yankees an MVP-like-effort. Gary won over a lot of Yankees fans that year – this one included. And, in 2005, Sheffield had another good season – in fact, he was probably the 6th most effective batter in the A.L. East last year.
This season, Sheffield got hurt in early May – and he tried to come back from that after two weeks on the D.L. But, a week later, the pain was just too great – and Sheffield had to go back on the D.L.
Sheffield has a torn ligament and dislocated tendon in his left wrist. For a right-handed hitter, this is a serious injury – and that’s why Gary has been out for most of the last 4 months.
There’s probably not many Yankees fans with a beef on Sheffeild in terms of his production and effort. Sure, he has a big mouth sometimes. But, in New York, if you play hard and produce, you can get by with a big mouth. The fans loved David Wells when he was here – didn’t they?
Plus, most Yankees fans know that Sheffeild is history, in terms of being a Yankee, in about two months from now.
Face it, Gary Sheffield is old news in Yankeeland. People are not getting on his case for this reason.
Heyman should not try and make Sheffield’s situation to read like Carl Pavano’s situation. Sheffield played hard for the Yankees before he got hurt. And, he played well.
Heyman also paints Sheff as a “me first” player. I will not disagree with that. But, Sheffield’s mistake there is being open about it. Seventy percent of the Yankees are probably “me first” players – but, they just don’t say it out-loud. Trust me, Sheffield is not the first “me first” player in the game – and he won’t be the last. Again, a baseball player ‘only looking out for himself’ is the norm in most cases – and the fans and media will not get on someone for being that way if they produce well on the field. And, in New York, Sheffield was a good producer when he played.
I see no reason why anyone should get on Sheffield at this point.