the sports section

Gary Sheffield Finally Goes Off

Two weeks ago, the Mets placed Gary Sheffield on waivers and he was claimed by the San Francisco Giants. Instead of trading him, the Mets pulled him back, essentially doling out the most terrible punishment imaginable: He’d have to remain a Met for the rest of the painful 2009 season. Sheffield, thinking he was pulled back because he was part of the team’s plans for next season, asked for an extension for 2010, and was denied one. Then things got fun.

According to Joel Sherman, Sheffield became verbally abusive, demanded to be released or traded, and threatened to just leave and go home to Florida. Eventually, he settled for merely pulling himself out of the lineup. In his column, Sherman describes the inevitability of the outburst, calling Sheffield “the human version of a loaded handgun” and describing him as ungrateful for the opportunity the Mets gave him after the Tigers released him in March. He says that Sheffield is the “villain yet again.” Or is he?

In the News, Tim Smith refers to Sheffield as a hostage, and places the blame squarely on the Mets, calling them spiteful for refusing to let Sheffield escape “a sinking ship.” (Sherman argues, too, that the Mets should have worked out a trade, though only to avoid the aforementioned handgun going off.) Either way, the Mets are getting exactly what they should have expected out of Sheffield.

On the field, he’s had a solid season, but an extension was unlikely — and certainly not something he could reasonably freak out over. But why let reason enter into the equation? This is the same malcontent that burned bridges in Milwaukee and the Bronx. As Will Leitch wrote earlier this season, “It has happened for the other teams Sheffield has played for; why wouldn’t it happen here?” Well, now it has. All is right with the world, even if all is wrong in Flushing.

Gary Sheffield Finally Goes Off