Nation Increasingly Uncomfortable Around Gary Sheffield

NEW YORK--According to a recent study, Americans are feeling increasingly uncomfortable around Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield. From his teammates to the media to the general public, most people prefer to avoid any contact with the high-strung, grumpy slugger. The news comes as no surprise to his teammates, many of whom haven’t spoken to him in weeks.

“Yea, that guy freaks me out a little,” said one Yankee player. “He’s so on edge. I just keep my distance from him. I think the last time I talked to him was when I asked him to sign a baseball for my nephew. He signed it, but not before he pointed out that my nephew wouldn’t even want to talk to him if he wasn’t a star baseball player. Later I looked at the autograph and it said ‘To Kyle- You have no idea what it’s like to be a black man in America –Gary Sheffield.’”

One veteran player said that he felt “awkward and self-conscious” around Sheffield .

“Hanging around with Gary is like walking on egg shells,” he said. “You never know what’s going to set him off. Sometimes you just say ‘Hey, nice play’ and he stares you down and warns you not to patronize him. Also, he has no sense of humor. He needs to lighten up a little, maybe smoke a joint or something. Not that I’m implying that all black people smoke pot or anything.”

Members of the media have the most difficult time dealing with Sheffield. He has very little respect for sportswriters and isn’t afraid to say it. Ironically, that very attitude has made him one of the most sought after interviews in baseball.

“Interviewing Gary is great, because you never know what he’s going to come out with,” said Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, who interview Sheffield in a recent issue. “He’s so intense and honest that he’ll say anything that pops into his head. As a reporter, you can’t ask for much more than that. But as a person, it does get a little weird. He hates the media so much it’s disturbing. I just have to keep reminding myself that we are the media, and he has every reason to hate us.”

But it’s not just those in the clubhouse and on the team bus that are uncomfortable around Gary Sheffield. Members of the general public feel the same way.

“I was at the airport once, riding in the elevator, and who walked in but Gary Sheffield of the New York Yankees,” said Sidney Fleming of Queens , NY. “My first thought was to shake his hand and try to get an autograph, but I stopped myself because I know about his reputation. So I just stood there with my hands in my pockets. Then I took them out because I didn’t want to seem racist, you know, like I was protecting my wallet because there was a black guy in there with me. Then I reminded myself that there was a black guy in there with me, so I put my hands back in my pockets.”

Dr. Lawrence Chasten, who spearheaded the study, said that it’s normal for people to feel uncomfortable around someone as abrasive as Sheffield .

“Gary is the kind of person that doesn’t bother being polite and sociable. He’ll tell you exactly what he thinks,” said Chasten. “Most of what he thinks is wildly off base and a result of his crippling paranoia. My advice to the people of America is to reach out to Mr. Sheffield and try to get him to open up. Don’t be afraid of him. The worst thing he can do is put you in the hospital or kill you.”

As for Sheffield, he wasn’t surprised by Dr. Chasten’s findings. In fact, he understands all too well what it’s like to be uncomfortable in the company of others.

“Let me tell you about being uncomfortable,” said Sheffield. “Uncomfortable is walking into a ballpark and looking into the stands and seeing nothing but white faces around you. Uncomfortable is playing a white man’s game in a white man’s country. Uncomfortable is talking to people like you who don’t know what it's like to be a black man. You have no idea what it’s like until you've walked in my skin--or at least did that thing C. Thomas Howell did in Soul Man, where he painted his face black and went around acting like he was black. Now that was a great movie. To this day, C. Thomas Howell is the only white person I've ever respected.”


Copyright 2005, The Brushback - Do not reprint without permission. This article is satire and is not intended as actual news


August 9, 2005 - Volume 2 Issue 3