For any of you baseball movie buffs out there, you'll remember the very poorly made Bernie Mac film, Mr. 3000. In the movie, Mac is a arrogant ballplayer retires after getting his 3,000th hit, only to find out later that he actually only has 2,997 hits. Because he does not have 3000 hits, Mac's character is fails to get elected into the hall of fame and as a result, he does everything possible to make a comeback and try to secure his place in history. Eventually, Mac's character only gets 2 more hits, which left him one shy of the mark. However, Mac's character eventually gets put into the hall of fame (totally disagree with that decision).
Now, fast forward to yesterday. DH Gary Sheffield, who was owed $14 million bucks this season, was released by the Tigers, who decided that the newly acquired Josh Anderson was a better fit this season. Sheffield has looked awful thus far in spring training and hardly resembles the feared slugger that the Tigers paid so handsomely to acquire. It speaks volume that the Tigers were willing to eat $14 million instead of having Gary Sheffield on their roster.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Sheffield is stuck on 499 home runs for his career, just one away from the elusive 500 mark. It's surprising to me that the Tigers cut Sheffield before he hit his 500th home run given how much the Tigers could have profited with ticket sales, merchandise, T shirts, etc. Even after all this steroid era nonsense, people still want to be apart of history and I'm sure the Tigers would have made some money off Sheffield's quest. Ultimately, it was not meant to be.
But now we come back to Sheffield. For a guy who is so close to making history, he sure does not have too many friends around the league. Even with the record so close within his reach, there is no doubt that Sheffield is going to have a remarkably tough time finding a place to play. Amazingly, all the scenarios in the AL don't work, while NL teams are skeptical about adding a guy, who apparently cannot play defense anymore. Simply put, without his offensive production, Sheffield brings little to the table, even with 500 breathing down his neck.
For arguments sake, let's say that Sheffield falls just one home run shy of 500 for his career. Does anyone think he will make the hall of fame? I severely doubt it. Sheffield's association to steroids, whether he ever admits it or not, will prevents people from voting for him despite his fantastic numbers. Even though Sheffield was one of the best players of my generation, people will always think of Sheffield as an arrogant cheater.
So unlike Mr. 3000, I see no happy ending here for Sheffield. I have a tough time seeing any team taking a chance on him right now, which would leave him agonizingly close to 500. But in the case of Sheffield, the mark wouldn't come close to guaranteeing him a spot in the hall of fame.
(Note: I cannot believe that I just wrote a piece about Mr. 3000. As far as baseball movies go, this one was one of my least favorites...even with the Mac! Anyone a fan of the movie)