I’ve always counted Gary Sheffield among the most imposing looking batters. Not that he’ll ever be mistaken for Mr. Rogers outside the box, but when he steps to the plate, he seemingly transforms into a deranged, Night Train-swilling ‘Nam vet who was bitten by a vampire bat and just watched some asshole swipe the last parking spot at the Natick Mall from under his nose. He’s the guy muttering to himself about squirrels and “those bastards at the circus” while stumbling down Tremont Street at 3am; the guy you always cross the street to avoid. He’s also a proven detriment to most clubhouses, a selfish, pompous dink who may or may not have fired the salvo that gave the 2004 Red Sox the bulletin-board material they needed to win the ALCS.
But, goddam, I’ve always wanted to see him in our line-up and taking massive hacks at Fenway. And I’m ashamed to say that hearing how hungry he is for another shot, how eager he is to pound the naysayers to dust just makes me want to roll the dice on him a little more:
“I’ve never worked so hard in the offseason as I have this one. I’m 100 percent dedicated to my training. When people tell me I can’t do something, I prove them wrong. Just like people thought I couldn’t play the outfield last year. I showed them I could. My shoulder came back last year so I can make the throws from the outfield. I feel I still have value.”
People derided the 2009 Sox for not having a distinct “personality.” For 2010, how about “homicidal”? Sheff’s waiting, Theo. Let’s get this party started.