By Jerald Levon Hoover
Updated: October 14, 2004

Gary Sheffield

NEW YORK, NY– And to think a good faction of Yankee brass and media thought New York Yankees outfielder and certain current MVP candidate, Gary Sheffield would be a cancer or a malcontent in the clubhouse. A person that in years past was very hard to get along with. A person who openly admitted that he would tank plays when he played third base for the Milwaukee Brewers by throwing the ball so far over the first baseman’s head that Yao Ming would have had trouble reaching for it.

But, something happens when a pro athlete is taken away from losing situations and put into winning ones. The sports world is full of such success stories so Sheffield is nothing new. But, during the winter and spring months when the entire world was abuzz with the acquisition of (thanks to Aaron Boone) third baseman and last years American League MVP, Alex Rodriguez, Sheffield’s signing sort of came up under the radar. Although nothing the Yankees and George Steinbrenner does is ever really done in quiet, the signing of Sheffield seemed more or less like putting more lights on an already decorated Christmas tree.

Something happen though within the course of the season. No, A-Rod did not have a bad season; in fact he had a very good season in the numbers department. Put it this way, if A-Rod had been a rookie with his numbers he would have been anointed as the Second Coming. But, what Sheffield did this year with having a slow start at the beginning of the year and enduring a balky shoulder, a shoulder that also prevents him from driving and sleeping well at night is nothing short of monstrous. His numbers don’t lie: 290. batting average; 36 homers and 121 RBI. A-Rod’s numbers weren’t bad either: 286. batting average; 36 homers and 106 RBI. Those again are great numbers but just not MVP type for what Sheffield has done and when he’s done it no less.

For the Yankees this is a great problem to have and let’s face it, how many teams have THIS kind of problem? Save for the St. Louis Cardinals and maybe the Boston Red Sox there aren’t too many teams that have former MVPs or MVPs in the running in the same year.

Steinbrenner who orchestrated the Sheffield signing without the assistance of others has done it again.