Long-time Hall of Fame candidate and former Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield has had enough of the Cooperstown rat race.
Luckily for Sheff, the ballot has had enough of him, too; his 10 years in front of the BBWAA expired this past January, as he exited stage left with 63.9% of the vote, 11.1% short of the threshold for induction.
Sheffield, one of very few members of the 500 home run club not in the Hall of Fame, will now take his case to various "Era" ballots, where the Veterans Committee will either take up his case or dismiss it. It depends how friendly said committee is. A player like Harold Baines might end up with Tony La Russa arguing his case, while a player with more enemies in the room -- or a PED connection -- might continue to be frozen out.
On Audacy’s The Bret Boone Podcast, Sheffield recently spoke at length about his negative feelings surrounding his time on the writers' ballot. He addressed the allegations ("When I did the Harold Reynolds special, I kind of shared my story"), which boil down to slapping cream on an open wound while training with Barry Bonds, operating without the knowledge that the balm contained steroids. Sheffield never failed a test, something current Hall of Famer David Ortiz cannot say.
Somehow, that wasn't enough, and now the intimidating slugger has turned his steely gaze on the media members who kept the gate closed.
Bud Selig's in the Hall of Fame, so why not Yankees star Gary Sheffield?
"I spoke about any and everything that anybody ever asked me. The only thing that disturbed me is something that they said about the Mitchell Report. He said that I never went to Bud Selig’s office to complain about players being on steroids, and that was disheartening to me because I feel like any time you meet with the commissioner, there should be documentation or something to say there was a meeting that took place. To flat out deny that because Bud Selig’s in the Hall of Fame, I was disappointed in that.- Gary Sheffield
A lot of reporters called and said that they were trying to talk to reporters to vote. The problem was a lot of them weren’t voting for 10 players, they were just voting for two or three players. So if they needed to keep somebody on the ballot, then they would vote to keep that guy on the ballot. A lot of votes just weren’t taking place because they weren’t using the 10 votes they had. He was trying to share my story [with] each and every reporter to vindicate me, but it just didn’t translate.
If a reporter has a vote and he didn’t really know my story or watch me play on an everyday basis, then what’s the credibility of a guy voting for anybody that he didn’t watch or follow? Or a player may not be their preference. You and I both know about this game, people have preferences. They have guys that they choose to like, and then if somebody says something about a guy that they don’t know, then they choose to dislike him without even getting to know him."
Sheffield took umbrage with the system's seemingly random 10-player limit per ballot, as well as the audacity of some writers to only vote for two or three, in an effort to make some sort of ham-handed point that fell on deaf ears (and ultimately kept players like Sheffield and Billy Wagner out of the Hall).
The Hall's policy on steroid users has never been unified, and whether you believe Sheffield's statement on his usage patterns or not, the Hall has inducted Selig -- the enabler -- and Ortiz, a well-liked player who had Commissioner Rob Manfred ready and willing to cast doubt on his positive test when his retirement came in a coordinated effort to soften the noise.
Sheffield? He simply heard the sound of silence, and he heard it for a decade.
"It’s a flawed system based on guys not watching you on a day-to-day basis. Because if they did there’s no way they could look at you with a straight face and say this guy’s better than this guy and his numbers mean more than his numbers. Just from that standpoint alone, it’s biased, and a lot of it is politics and a lot of other things when you look at it."- Gary Sheffield
Sheffield was better, offensively, than nearly every hitter of his era. To keep him out of the Hall of Fame because of his defense is a woeful misjudgment of what made him special. To keep him out for nebulous other reasons? Sheffield, rightly, has an even greater beef with that non-logic.