there is a new Gary Sheffield-shaped hole in our lives


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Well! THIS was unexpected. Just a week away from the start of the season, the Tigers have released Gary Sheffield.

It’s not like we had some perfect spot in the lineup for Sheff. He can’t really play the field anymore (no matter how much he likes to think that he can), and there are approximately seventy squillion other Tigers who can (and, in some cases, SHOULD) DH. But I think that a lot of us had pretty much resigned ourselves to at least most of a season of Gary Sheffield wallowing in the lineup, preventing other oldsters from giving their withered limbs a rest, flailing away to get that 500th home run, getting into vaguely passive aggressive media quote fights with Jim Leyland, saying hilariously inflammatory things about steroids. Such was to be our lot in life!

But now the Tigers have released him. I must admit that I am wicked surprised. Since when have the Tigers been willing to cut away veteran dead weight when they still owe that poundage a lot of money?

Sheff is just as surprised as I am:

Sheffield, who has 499 career home runs and is on the verge of becoming just the 25th player in history to record 500, said that he was surprised by the move and that he didn’t consider it a possibility.

“I never really thought about it, to be honest with you,” Sheffield said.
MLB.com article

Basically, the Tigers have chosen Marcus Thames over Gary Sheffield. Which makes sense when you consider the fact that Gary Sheffield is older than dinosaurs and The River Thames, while no spring chicken himself, is not, but again: surprising. Since when have the Tigers ever decisively chosen Thames over anyone? As recently as, like, yesterday there was talk of trying to trade Thames away.

I also have to admit that I’m a little uncomfortable with the timing of this move. I’m going to assume that the Tigers had to wait until now to pull the trigger on Sheff, for whatever reason (maybe they needed an extended look at him in camp, or something), but Sheff now only has a week to go through waivers and try to sign with someone else if he wants to be on someone’s roster come Opening Day. I mean, I’m not unhappy about the removal of the Gary Sheffield Experience from the Detroit roster, but I’m not particularly fond of the possibility of screwing him over by holding onto him all spring and releasing him right before the season starts.

Eh.

Also: oh NOOOOO, we may never find out how this story ends! Will he ever get to exact his revenge? How long is his memory? Now we may never know. Sadface.

On a positive note, the move does bring us this truly glorious snippet of reporting genius from Jason Beck:

The move caught teammates by shock. As Sheffield talked with reporters, he shook hands with Cabrera when he arrived at the locker next to him.

“I’ll see you,” Sheffield said.

“Where are you going,” Cabrera asked.

“I got released,” Sheffield answered.

Cabrera’s jaw dropped.
MLB.com article

D’awwww.

ETA: A couple more AMAZING quotes, via FOXSports (commenter Paul M alerted me to them, so that all may know of the lulz):

Leyland, the Tigers manager, said he had a hard time sleeping Monday night, knowing he was going to release a future Hall of Famer.

“I lit two Marlboros at the same time,” Leyland said. “I couldn’t sleep. But I feel better that it’s over with than I did at 3 in the morning.”
FOXSports.com article

Jim Leyland, you are everything we imagine you to be and more!

I literally laughed out loud at this one:

“Jim (Leyland) said, ‘We’re going to go with versatility.’ When he said that word I thought to myself, ‘I’m probably the most athletic guy on this team.’ But they’re entitled to their opinion,” Sheffield said.
FOXSports.com article

I’m probably the most athletic guy on this team.

I’m probably the most athletic guy on this team.

Ha ha ha hahahahahahahaha ohhhhhh man. Oh, Gary. Hee. Thank you for that one last hearty guffaw.

7 responses to “there is a new Gary Sheffield-shaped hole in our lives

  1. Well, Damion Easley still holds the Tiger record for most money paid while not on the team, as they released him with 2 years left at $9M per. But still. Wow. Jim Leyland and Double-D don’t mess around.

  2. Woah. I’m with Miggy; my jaw just dropped.
    Does this mean they’re going to let Marcus play more? (*squee* with excitement) I see the article mentions rotating players through the DH spot. During this off-season, I’ve often thought, if it weren’t for Gary, Carlos should be DHing instead of placing himself in peril out in left.
    But, wow. Yeah, releasing the one guy you really don’t want to screw over, a week before Opening Day. Eeek.

  3. Gary Sheffield is going to KILL US ALL!!!!! All this time I’ve been trying extra hard to never, EVER, show Sheff any disrespect, so that he would maybe be my friend, and then this happens. We’re all going to be held accountable. Thanks, Dave.

  4. Samara Pearlstein

    Ha ha, Jeff, yeah, you know what I mean though– ‘we can’t get rid of him, we’re paying him!’ has seemed like an obnoxiously familiar refrain these past few years.
    Heitk1le, it sounds like The River Thames’ roster spot was only tentative with Sheff still around; without Sheff, Thames will (according to DD) for sure make the roster, so… he’ll play more than not-at-all, which is more than he’d been lookin’ at. ;)
    Matt, you have pinpointed perhaps the most worrying aspect of this move. What will happen when and if Gary Sheffield chooses to unleash his wrath on the entire city of Detroit? It’s already suffering enough as it is…

  5. Sheff’s revenge aside… HOORAY! I did a happy dance when I heard Sheff was released.

  6. I do hope that Sheff does remember his revenge efforts. Hopefully there is a note some place on his “to get revenge list”. I really hope he catches with another team in time for opening day.
    1) so that he doesn’t blame us for his “misfortune of not having a home and 2) because I want to see some other team struggle with crazy Sheff around.
    Did you see Leyland said, “I lit two Marlboros at the same time,” Leyland said. “I couldn’t sleep.” I think he was up late trying to find answers and was sharing a smoke with a certain Hamster, why else would he lite two at the same time? I think the Answer Hamster is loosing some fur trying to help Leyland sort out our Opening Day roster this Spring.

  7. Samara Pearlstein

    Careful who you tell about that dance, David… you don’t want Sheff finding out…
    Paul, that is a PRICELESS quote. I am going to have to add it to the post, I think… all must see it.

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