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Half baked

Sheffield's attack on Torre, Yankees lacks substance

Posted: Monday July 16, 2007 12:40AM; Updated: Monday July 16, 2007 10:27AM
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In the same breath, Gary Sheffield does not qualify Joe Torre as a racist but questions the way Torre handles black players.
In the same breath, Gary Sheffield does not qualify Joe Torre as a racist but questions the way Torre handles black players.
Nick Laham/Getty Images

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Gary Sheffield was half-right, which is a lot different from Derek Jeter being "half-black.''

Sheffield was right that Joe Torre plays favorites. He favors the players who won him the four rings.

Torre loves Jeter best of all. He'd love him if he was half-green, half-awake or half-in-the-bag. Because Jeter and Mariano Rivera are the two players most responsible for Torre's four rings.

Torre loves Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams and Andy Pettitte, too, because they are the next three players most responsible for the four rings. Torre also loves those five players because they are quiet, professional gentlemen.

I suspect Torre didn't love Sheffield because he is neither quiet nor professional, and I suspect he likes him even less now because Sheffield won't shut up about how Torre mistreated him. And now it's about how Torre mistreated Sheffield because he's African-American and how he mistreats all African-American players.

Torre's favorite person on earth may be Bob Gibson, who is African-American. Torre talks about Gibson even more than Sheffield talks about Torre. Torre can't say enough good things about Gibson.

Torre loves Darryl Strawberry, who helped him win rings. Strawberry also played hard and didn't complain when he didn't always play. Like Jeter and the others who helped him win the rings, Strawberry is a gentleman. And Strawberry disagreed with Sheffield's assessment.

Now Sheffield says Kenny Lofton and Tony Womack feel the same way, and it turns out Sheffield isn't just blowing smoke about Lofton, as Lofton a day or two later agreed with Sheffield that Torre mistreats African-American players. But Lofton had two problems with the Yankees. One was that he didn't play up to his usual standards. The other is that he shared center field with Williams, who, as we know, was one of Torre's favorite players. Torre had a loyalty to Williams. If there was favoritism, he favored the four-time winner.

I am not anxiously waiting to see what Womack has to say, either. If anything, Torre gave Womack too many chances, too much rope. By the time Womack got to the Yankees, he just couldn't play, plain and simple. He was, in fact, one of the worst players in Major League Baseball.

Sheffield, on the other hand, was a star with the Yankees. And he still is. But that doesn't make him a keen sociologic observer, or even a gentleman. Because he is neither.


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