Did Detroit not provide a big enough stage for Gary Sheffield to seize his place in baseball history? Here's what Sheff had to say to the press after hitting his 500th career home run in a 5-4 Mets win over the Brewers:
"Everything happens for a reason," Sheffield said. "There was a reason why I hit 19 home runs instead of 20 last year. I could have did it then. There was a reason for me getting released and coming here and doing it on the biggest stage. So it makes it that much more special to me."
The World According to Sheff. Maybe it's that Detroit/Midwest inferiority complex kicking in, but I think the stage would've been plenty large enough for his 500th home run, regardless of where he hit it. Was that a dig at the Tigers? If so, it's understandable if he's bitter toward the team that released him. But it's not like Sheff didn't have the opportunity to achieve that milestone with Detroit.
But the man deserves his moment. And if he wants to attribute hitting #500 in New York to fate, who are we to argue with Sheff? He certainly has an appreciation for the full circle his career has taken.
"There was a bigger reason and a higher purpose, and especially being released and coming back to New York [where he was a Yankee] and doing it. I knew there was a bigger reason, and I had to keep that in mind."
"It just relaxed me, just getting it out of the way," he said. "Doing it in front of our home fans. Doing it at the new stadium ... and the fact that it was [against] the first team I came in with, with Milwaukee. So it was big and special for me."
Big and special, indeed. It's too bad that Sheffield couldn't reach that accomplishment in a Tigers uniform. As soon as Detroit traded for him, it was one of the first things that came to mind. Hey, we might get to see him hit his 500th homer. How cool would that be? Alas, it didn't work out. But we did see Sheff hit the 250,000th home run (and 249,999th) in major league history. At least we'll always have that.
Congratulations, Gary Sheffield. Hitting 500 home runs is one hell of an accomplishment in what's been a remarkable career. Even if our stage wasn't big enough. Hey, we tried to make it as big as we could.