Well, it's official: Gary Sheffield has retired. When we last saw Sheffield, he was 40 years old but doing quite well in part-time duties with the 2009 New York Metropolitans. In many other parallel universes, Sheffield came back in 2010 and served as a pinch-hitter or platoon DH somewhere, padding his Hall of Fame credentials just a bit.
In this universe, though, nobody wanted him last year bad enough to pay him whatever he needed to play. So after a full year off, he's made it official and we can start talking about his Hall of Fame chances ...
From George King in the New York Post:
As usual, Sheffield has a strong opinion on him entering Cooperstown.
"I am sure it will be mentioned and debated but from my standpoint I know who is in the Hall of Fame," Sheffield told The Post. "A lot of them don't belong in the Hall of Fame. If someone wants to debate me, check the stats."
I don't know that it's going to matter much who talked to Sheffield and who didn't. He was implicated, which is more than you can say about Jeff Bagwell and look what happened to him. So that's going to cost Sheffield a significant number of votes.
The other problem for Sheffield is that in 2014 -- his first year of eligibility -- the Hall of Fame ballot will be absolutely jammed. In addition to the holdovers -- probably Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Tim Raines, and maybe Craig Biggio -- Sheffield will be joined by other first-timers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina.
This is going to be the story about the Hall of Fame for many years. Okay, one of two stories. The splashier story is going to be about the incredible players who aren't elected because of the steroids taint. But the Incredibly Loaded Ballots should be a story, too, as the steroids combines with the cyclical nature of things to create a massive backlog of players on the ballot with Hall of Fame numbers.
Does Gary Sheffield have Hall of Fame numbers? Yes, he does. But so do Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Rafael Palmeiro. And they're all going to have to wait a long, long, long time for their big days in Cooperstown.