Daily scoop (cont.)
Posted: Monday July 16, 2007 12:40AM; Updated: Monday July 16, 2007 10:27AM
Sheffield's time with the Yankees was marked by four things:
1) The usual hard hitting and clutch base hits;
2) An embarrassing association with BALCO (don't forget, he's the guy who FedEx'd cash to BALCO -- is that because he thought he was getting Ben-Gay?);
3) A propensity to say dumb things (it's actually gotten worse since he left the Yankees, since, as a Yankee, he limited his dumb comments to the subject of how much more money he wanted); and,
4) A knack for loafing after balls hit to right field, which he did about as often as he hustled after them.
Torre consistently played Sheffield, and he consistently defended Sheffield (at least he did publicly). Torre had so much faith in Sheffield that he even played him at first base during the playoffs when Sheffield shouldn't have been playing first base for even a high school team.
Sheffield's litany of specific complaints about Torre appears to boil down to "a couple of meetings'' when Torre called out Sheffield. One time came after one especially egregious case of loafing, the other was either over more loafing or Sheffield failing to be on time. Rather than hail Torre for waiting to call him out until he had loafed for two straight years, Sheffield apparently decided this was an unforgivable act.
Sheffield's evidence is that Torre didn't call out the other stars, whom he treated "like men.'' Of course, the other stars are consistent hustlers like Jeter, Posada and Alex Rodriguez. When it came to loafing, Sheffield was in a class by himself.
But Sheffield thinks he does no wrong. In his mind, he is a great hustler. Maybe this stems from the fact that his previous managers -- and there have been many of them, since he's been traded more times than any Hall-of-Fame talent in history -- may never have said a thing. They just watched and delighted in Sheffield's hitting, and let the loafing go. Torre did, too, for two years.
But eventually, he had to bring it up. He had no choice. Sheffield's loafing had become embarrassing. So he made an example of Sheffield at a meeting or two. For that, apparently, he is a racist. (Although, in Sheffield's confused world, Sheffield said Torre is just a mistreater of blacks, not racist.)
Sheffield sees racism around every corner. He thinks MLB is racist for having more Latins and fewer blacks in the game than they used to. He thinks Torre is a racist for mentioning a mistake or two he made when he made about a hundred more. He sees racism everywhere, which is a shame because it diminishes real racism, which does occur in baseball.
Sheffield sees himself as a great player, a great leader and a great humanitarian, not to mention a hustler. And while he's moved from city to city, he's always resided in Fantasyland.