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MLBOpinion

Gary Sheffield’s Lack Of MLB Hall Of Fame Love Is Still Foul

He never failed a PED test, but he did call baseball out on its devaluing of Black talent and exploitation of Latino players.

MLB Hall of Fame inductions have lost their integrity and are hit or miss at this point.

If you have to make a case for a guy’s Hall of Fame worthiness, then he probably isn’t a Hall of Famer. If the only reason a player makes it is because the sportswriters are blackballing a handful of deserved but suspected PED cheats, then he’s not a Hall of Famer.

2019 Cooperstown Inductees Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez have definitely benefited from no-brainers like Sammy Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, Manny Ramirez and even Crime Dog Fred McGriff being passed over. They had great careers, but are they automatic Hall of Famers?

Mike Mussina (congrats to the former Yankee) would probably have never gotten into the Hall of Fame if the shenanigans with the baseball writers weren’t so prevalent. 

Larry Walker Misses The Mark

In 2020, the BBWAA voters got it half right. Yankees legendary shortstop Derek Jeter and Colorado Rockies hitman Larry Walker were inducted.

Jeter fell just one vote shy of becoming the second unanimous vote after Rivera in 2019. Walker completed a remarkable rise in the Cooperstown polls that saw him narrowly get elected with 76.6 % of the vote. Walker’s entrance is questionable.

Walker didn’t have 400 homers, 3,000 hits or 500 doubles… and seems to have benefited from so many writers leaving off Bonds (60.7 %), Clemens (61 %), Sheff, Sosa  (13.8 %) and Manny Ramirez (28.2 %) in protest.

They need to stop messing around and truly put the best players in.

Certain numbers have always been considered as automatic entry for MLB players into Cooperstown. 300 wins for a pitcher, 450-500 saves for a closer, 3,000 hits and 500 homers for a position player.

Gary Sheffield has hit 509 career homers and is 26th all-time in MLB history. There’s not a player ranked higher than him on the list that is not an automatic Hall of Famer. Sheffield has been the subject of PED rumors, but so have past inductees such as Mike Piazza and Pudge Rodriguez.  

He did improve 17 % to 30.5 % of the vote, but he’s nowhere near close to getting in.

Hall of Game Is More Legit

For now, his 2019 the “Hall of Game” induction will have to do. The HOG was created by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in 2014 and aims to preserve the rich baseball histories of magnificent players who “competed with the same passion, determination, skill, and flair exhibited by the heroes of the Negro Leagues.”

When 500 homer member Dave Ortiz comes up for induction, he’ll get in despite the fact that in 2009 there was a report that Ortiz failed MLB’s “anonymous” drug testing survey in 2003.  Names were leaked. 

Same rules should apply to everyone.

Sheff, who started as a shortstop before moving to the outfield, had all-around skills. In addition to his 509 homers he stole 253 bases, had nearly 2700 hits and a career slugging of .514 as one of the most feared hitters of his era and one of the fiercest competitors. A bad ass of the game, with a mythical bat wiggle. 

If you penalize Sheff for being a loud, black man and playing during the PED Era when numbers were up across the board, you also have to give him his props for easily being one of the best players of that era and statistically competing with the immortals of the game.

You can’t say Gary Sheffield isn’t a Hall of Famer and then put Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez, Trevor Hoffman, Jack Morris, and Jim Thome, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker in. 

None of those guys could ball like Sheff. Stop the madness. The numbers say he’s getting shafted.

If anything, he’s a victim of his personality.

 

You Can’t Stop The Prophet

In 2007, the percentage of African-Americans playing Major League Baseball was at an all-time low.  I1992 was the last season that there was a higher percentage of Black players (16.7 %)  than Hispanic players (15.6 %) in MLB, according to sabr.org

Now Latin players make up almost a third of the league and a larger percentage of the All-Stars.

MLB All-Star Gary Sheffield had a theory about why it was happening.  

In an interview with GQ magazine, Sheffield, a member of the Detroit Tigers at the time, said Latin players have replaced African-Americans as baseball’s most prevalent minority because they are easier to control.

“I called it years ago. What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out. [It’s about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do — being able to control them,” he told the magazine.

“Where I’m from, you can’t control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is. And that’s a person that you’re going to talk to with respect, you’re going to talk to like a man.

“These are the things my race demands. So, if you’re equally good as this Latin player, guess who’s going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.”

When Sheffield made those comments a lot of people reacted negatively to them. Some Hispanics felt he was being disparaged when Sheffield was just alluding to the desperate economic conditions that allow white MLB owners to exploit foreign players financially while eliminating American Blacks from the game. 

All he was doing was foreshadowing the future and when the 2021 season comes around the percentage of African-Americans will be below 8 percent, which is significantly lower than the 8.5 percent that existed in 2007, according to sabr.org

Sheff was right, but it was the last straw for a baseball world that was lukewarm on him, to begin with. His outspokenness ruffled a lot of feathers and that combined with his PED controversy is keeping him out.

It’s Nothing More Than A Grudge.

Sheffield admitted to Sports Illustrated in 2004 that he had used a substance known as “the cream” in 2002. Sheffield says he didn’t know at the time it was a PED.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was executive vice president of labor relations at the time. He called Sheffield’s comments “a concern” but said the player faces no repercussions because the purported steroid use occurred before baseball started its testing program.

You can’t penalize any player who used any substance prior to it being banned. That’s not how it works.

Sheffield was honest about what he did and there’s no proof at all that he was juicing throughout his illustrious career. The nephew of Dwight Gooden had the 76th-best OPS+ in major-league history as of 2019.  He’s more than qualified.

It’s still hard to get as genuinely excited about the Hall of Fame when the best players are not inducted due to speculation or PED use that was encouraged, ignored and covered up by managers and a commissioner that is currently in the Hall of Fame.

They were granted clemency and are credited with leading baseball during a golden era that’s now been stained by politics, power plays and scapegoating.

Meanwhile, greats of the game like Sheff, who never failed a PED test, continue to get the shaft.

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