Friday, February 22, 2008

The Ceremonial First Bitch

It just isn't baseball season until Gary Sheffield throws out the first bitch.

Sheffield is again in the news, which means that someone asked him a question.

In his latest rant, Sheff goes off on agent Scott Boras, who Sheffield says took money from his Yankees contract that Boras wasn't entitled to. Among other things, Sheff calls Boras a "bad person" and that things will get "ugly, very ugly" as soon as he can REALLY say what's on his mind -- when the legal proceedings are over and done with.

And, as usual, I'm sure fans and media across the country will vilify Sheffield -- even though this time the target is a sports agent, which isn't exactly in the same category as children and animals when it comes to effusing sympathy from the general public. So maybe the fallout from Sheffield's latest diatribe -- spoken eagerly with the intention of it being oh, so very public -- won't be as vitriolic.

But look -- if you don't want to know what Gary Sheffield thinks, then the solution is simple: don't ask him. Frankly, I find his unfiltered honesty refreshing. He simply answers what is asked of him. Does he enjoy the consequences? Well, he admitted in his Boras rant that even his wife and family thinks he's "psychotic" because he sometimes thrives on the negative reactions to his words. But so what? That's his prerogative. The bottom line is, he doesn't say things just to say them. He won't give you one answer on Monday, and a different, sugar-coated one on Tuesday.

Sometimes I just don't know what my colleagues in the media -- or the fans -- want out of an athlete. If he speaks his mind, he's volatile and militant. If he gives processed, cliche-filled answers, he's mocked for his triteness. If he doesn't speak at all, he's aloof and a bad apple.

The media, especially, has no idea how good they've got it, as long as Gary Sheffield is still in the big leagues. He should be a writer's dream, for all his colorful copy. They love to hate on him, so what will they do when he goes away? Some will say that they'll be thankful when Sheffield fades into the sunset. Same thing with Bobby Knight. But all I know is, college basketball is more boring now with Knight gone, and so will baseball be when Sheffield hangs up his spikes and rests his jaw.

Don't ask, and he won't tell.


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