• Inside Power

    Posted by on March 25th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    InsidePower.jpg

    To be candid, when I was first presented with an opportunity to review “Inside Power” (by Gary Sheffield with David Ritz), I accepted it not because I was attracted to learning more about the story of Gary Sheffield. I already knew that Sheffield was one of the all-time twenty-five best right-handed batters in the history of baseball. And, I knew that Sheffield was as hard-nosed as a real life “C-Note” Franklin. Therefore, I felt that I knew everything that I needed to know about Gary Sheffield. More so, rather than being driven by interest, I accepted the chance to read “Inside Power” because of my personal (and habitual) reflex/willingness to read almost anything baseball-related.

    However, I must confess that, as soon as I began to read “Inside Power,” I found myself become rapidly engrossed in this book.

    In this autobiography, Sheffield tells his story – starting at the age of four, where he was hard pushed by his grandfather, step-father, and uncle (Dwight Gooden) to be tough and to excel at baseball. And, the story runs through his days in Little League, the Minor Leagues, and all his stops in the big leagues. Along the journey, Sheffield shares his take on dealing with racism, collusion, violence, the media, Bud Selig, Wayne Huizenga, Bob Dailey, Tommy Lasorda, Barry Bonds (and BALCO), George Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, Joe Torre (among others).

    In “Inside Power” we also learn how Sheffield, who had four children with four different women before he turned 30-years old, found religion and settled down with DeLeon Richards (who, along with former teammate Terry Pendleton, has become a major factor in how Sheffield now lives his life).

    There is much to be found in this book. Even the name “Gary Sheffield” has a story to it. Gary’s mother is Dwight Gooden’s older sister. She married a man named Harold Jones and took his last name. However, before she married Jones, she became pregnant by a man named Marvin Johnson – a pregnancy which led to the birth of “Gary Sheffield.” Where did “Sheffield” come from? While she was pregnant, Gary’s mom was planning to marry a man named Lindsay Sheffield. When Gary was born, his mother listed “Sheffield” as the last name on his birth certificate to match the name of the man she planned to marry. However, the Gooden-Lindsay marriage never happened – and, after the break-up, Lindsay was killed. So, as Gary writes “My father’s name is Johnson. My mother’s name is Jones. My grandmother and grandfather’s name is Gooden. And, I’m Sheffield, named for a man, killed in a robbery, who I never knew.”

    There’s plenty of intriguing tales such as this one in Sheffield’s book. “Inside Power” is a very quick-read, yet, it is attention-grabbing. I was pleased to have read it – and do recommend this book to any baseball looking to learn more about the complex life behind one of the greatest baseball hitters in the modern history of the game.

    Comments on Inside Power

    1. MJ
      March 26th, 2007 | 9:25 am

      Steve – does the book get into specifics about his time in NY beyond what we already know he’s going to say about Steinbrenner (cold and heartless) and Torre (a company man)? If we’ve read the NYPost pre-review, is there anything else we didn’t get re: the Yanks?

      The way you describe the book, it sounds pretty interesting. But I’m not a big fan of Sheff’s so I’m going to sit this one out…

    2. March 26th, 2007 | 9:38 am

      ~~~does the book get into specifics about his time in NY beyond what we already know he’s going to say about Steinbrenner (cold and heartless) and Torre (a company man)? If we’ve read the NYPost pre-review, is there anything else we didn’t get re: the Yanks?~~~

      There was some good stuff in there. He said that Cashman offered him a deal for $4 mill a year when he was a FA – and when he flipped, because he was already making $11 mill a year, Doc told him that was the Yankees M.O. – - Cashman would make a low-ball offer and the Stein would come in and make the real deal. (If will be interesting to see how this changes now with Stein being ill.)

      He also went into detail on how the Yankees use some of the media as puppets and how they leak info on players to help with things that they are trying to get done.

      As far as the players, he loved Posada and Mo. He said that A-Rod tries too hard and that Jeter is what you see: always upbeat and speaking in cliches, even with the other players.

      He did paint the Yankees players as a group who would talk about the siutation of playing for “Steinbrenner Inc.” while they were alone, say, at dinner – but, once they were back in the clubhouse, with the media, it was back to “say nothing bad about anyone” (out of fear).

      Reading the book, you came away with the vibe that the media, and the way the Yankees run the team as a business, don’t make for the best environment for the players to be relaxed.

    3. MJ
      March 26th, 2007 | 1:11 pm

      Reading the book, you came away with the vibe that the media, and the way the Yankees run the team as a business, don’t make for the best environment for the players to be relaxed.
      ————————————

      To be expected, I think. Between the team’s success over the past 10 years, the rise of bloggers/new media paying attention, plus the agenda-filled writers/radio guys, I don’t think it’s a shock that the players aren’t relaxed as they might be in KC or Denver. I don’t know that the Yanks could run their business differently, however. What other team has the same obstacles and faces the same scrutiny or has such a big bullseye on their backs like the Yanks do?

      I’m curious to know which media-members are puppets. Heyman of SI? It certainly can’t be the NYTimes or Daily News, both of which may as well be from New Hampshire or Maine with how slanted their perspective is…

    4. March 26th, 2007 | 1:41 pm

      Sheff didn’t name names in the media. But, he gave examples of how the media asked him about things seconds after they happened with Cashman, Torre, etc., which leads you to believe that they were tipped off before it happened or within seconds after it happened.

      There was one story, where Sheff said he left a meeting with the Yankees, at the Stadium, and there was an ESPN truck outside the Stadium waiting for him, and the reporter was asking him about things in the meeting – where there was no way they would have known about them unless they were tipped.

    5. singledd
      March 26th, 2007 | 2:58 pm

      Lots of people don’t like Sheff, but I have a lot of respect for him. On the field, he led by example. I will miss his bat this year.

      The truth is not always well accepted, even by those who ask for the truth.

    6. MJ
      March 26th, 2007 | 4:22 pm

      I don’t think merely telling the truth is that admirable a quality. I think it’s how you tell the truth, and even why you tell the truth that are more valuable traits (in my opinion). Acting in self-interest is just fine – we all do it – but passing that off as nobility or integrity 100% of the time? Nah, I’ll pass on Sheff being the example I’d want to show others…

    7. March 26th, 2007 | 4:49 pm

      Sheff sorta touched on this in the book – meaning that he said guys like Doc Gooden (for a while) played the role that owners/media wanted the see, sorta like Jeter does now, and, I guess A-Rod…rather than be/say the way they would if they didn’t care about who it pleased or not. He’s implying that it doesn’t matter what other prople think, he’s going to say what he wants/feels.

      In a way, *to me,* this is the Manny/Bonds vs. A-Rod/Jeter thing. Manny and Bonds do whatever they want, and get killed – whereas A-Rod and Jeter try to do the “right thing” and still sometimes get crap for it. Maybe it is better to be like Sheff, Manny, etc., and just do your thing?

      Yeah, it’s not better for PR, but, in the case of a guy like A-Rod, maybe he would sleep better at night and then be a better player? Sorta like the reason why he came out with the Jeter thing, supposedly, right?

    8. Raf
      March 26th, 2007 | 6:05 pm

      Maybe it is better to be like Sheff, Manny, etc., and just do your thing?
      ===========
      Certainly. No doubt in my mind.

      You see, people will say what they want to say, whether or not whatever it is they’re saying is true. So why should I care what people think? Who are they to even think that their opinions are worth anything to me?

    9. JeremyM
      March 26th, 2007 | 6:38 pm

      Maybe Jeter really is like that? Seems to be the case to me. I know a lot of guys that are kind of boring, by-the-book, don’t-rock-the-boat guys. Jeter seems to be that way, only with supermodels on his arm.

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