Gary Sheffield has the right to his opinion. And the nature of opinion says that he isn’t wrong.
Of course, every time Sheffield has an opinion it gets shouted down. There are people in this country that believe certain rights are only for certain people. When Sheffield expressed his views in GQ earlier this year, Major League Baseball’s Richard Levin cut him down by saying, “Consider the source.”
Sheffield was vilified and called everything from a loudmouth to a racist. Sheffield is not a racist. But if bringing light to racial issues that continue to cripple this country is being a loudmouth, then I guess he is that. Jackie Robinson was a loudmouth, too. And so was Martin Luther King Jr.
In an interview for HBO’s Real Sports, which airs on Tuesday, Sheffield was asked to express his opinions again. He explained that black players “… had an issue with Joe Torre. They weren’t treated like everybody else. I got called out in a couple of meetings that I thought were unfair.”
Sheffield also explained that he did not think Torre was racist, only that he treated black and white players differently.
“Derek Jeter used to come to me,” Sheffield said in the interview. “And basically he used to try to tell me what Joe Torre is all about: ‘He’s a good man, he’s this, he’s that,’ But like I told Derek, ‘That’s you. It’s one thing that they treat you a certain way. You don’t feel what other people feel.’”
No on can feel what other people feel, which is why opinions are never wrong.
In the interview, Sheffield detailed an incident when the Florida Marlins sent him to a psychologist to deal with his “behavior problems.”
“The first thing they said to me was, ‘You need to be more like Ken Griffey Jr.,’” Sheffield said. “‘See how he laughs and has fun? I bet he sleeps good at night.’ I got up and walked out.”
Someone recently told me that people wouldn’t boo if Griffey was moving in on the all-time home run record instead of Barry Bonds. But Griffey isn’t Bonds and Bonds isn’t Griffey and Sheffield isn’t either of them.
No one has the right to tell people who they should be or how they should feel or what they should say.
In my neighborhood, Gary Sheffield has the right to his opinion. And there are plenty of people around here saying that he isn’t wrong.