He didn’t play last year and was pretty clearly done anyway, but yesterday Gary Sheffield made it official and retired from baseball. Which, of course, leads to the question that is always asked when a player of stature retires. Hall of Fame?
I think the answer here is yes he’s deserving, but no he’s not going to make it. Not by a longshot.
His resume is damn solid. Way better than many players who are already in the Hall, as he himself noted in the story linked above. He was a nine-time All-Star with a career line of .292/.393/.514 and 509 homers. He didn’t lead the league in anything too many times and was never an MVP, but he had many seasons that, had they earned him the MVP, wouldn’t have been embarrassing to the award. Many of those seasons came before there was general acceptance of just how awesome it was to get on base at a .450 clip so he was under the radar while everyone was oohing and ahhing the big RBI men. He did a lot of things well rather than just one thing and had a lot of excellent seasons rather than one standalone boffo one and that’s usually a recipe for being underestimated.
Of course, had Sheffield not been a famously difficult personality who shuffled around from club-to-club during his career — and had he not been implicated in the PED mess — we would be having a very different conversation about all of this. But he was and he did and I think those things are going to mean that he gets way less support than he otherwise deserves. He’s going to get the Kevin Brown treatment.
Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s pastime when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:
Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.
Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.
At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.
Still, this whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever is minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface everyone has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.
It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. Major League Baseball could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on a few occasions in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, that’s off the table in the Rob Manfred Era.
Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.