Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gary Sheffield has something in common with Mark Twain

That being the reports of Sheffield's demise, just as Samuel Clemens', were greatly exaggerated.

Since his return from the DL, Sheff has been an offensive force of nature, a masher of prodigious proportions, and the reason the Tigers took 2 of 3 from the Cardinals.

A .462 BA, 2 home runs, game winning and tying hits the last 2 days shows he is once again healthy. Small sample size, I know. But this is the weapon I expected to see this season, much in the way Sheffield's bat carried the Tigers from May through July in '07.

Sheffield to Cardinals pitching:
"See those left field seats? I'm taking your poor ass shit deep!"

Seeing a pain free Sheffield rake has you wondering why the Tigers waited so long before placing him on the DL. Before he FINALLY went on the disabled list in late May, it had gotten to the point you could predict Sheffield's at bats. A 10 hopper to the left side of the infield had become his M.O. When the Tigers needed a big hit, Sheff would hit into a big double play. It was sad to watch a great player struggle like an overmatched rookie.

I realize Sheffield thought he could play with the pain, but he was hurting the Tigers more than he was helping. Actually, he wasn't helping at all, but ballplayers want to play, no matter what. And if there is one thing Sheffield is, he's a ballplayer. A God damn good ballplayer...When he's healthy.

I place more blame on the Tigers for allowing Sheffield to struggle with the pain in his shoulder for far too long. I know it's tough to tell a hard-headed, strong-willed, hall of fame caliber athlete he needs to sit and rest. Especially when that athlete is pushing his 40's.

No team should ever let a player call the shots. From all accounts, Sheffield was calling the shots in regard to playing everyday, despite his obviously damaged shoulder. If there is one flaw in Jim Leyland's managing style, it's letting the veterans have a little too much rope in those sort of situations.

Better late than never, I guess. I just wish the Tigers had been more proactive in "handling" Sheffield, and his balky shoulder. A little "tough love" would have gone a long way in getting him healthier, sooner. It would have gone a long way in improving the Tigers' record as well.

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