Sheff in the House


Sheffield argues with the fan

Since this is making the rounds and everyone keeps talking about it, I figure I might as well. To make a long story short, Gary Sheffield was trying to field Jason Varitek’s triple in the eighth inning. People were going after the ball, as they always typically do. (The current backlash about this is so bogus – it happens in every park, in every game.) All of a sudden, Sheffield takes offense to one of the people, and tries to punch him but the guy leans back and Sheffield just ends up pushing him. Beer spills on Sheffield. Sheffield then turns around and fires the ball back in as the Red Sox score. He then turns around with a closed fist, but stops himself and starts yelling at the man he punched.
That’s what it appeared to me in realtime. Watching countless replays, my eyes pressed up against the computer screen to see it more clearly, told a different story. After reading many websites and newspaper articles and message boards, I’ve come to some conclusions. First, some quotes.

It could have been worse if I didn’t keep my composure,” said a calm and expressionless Sheffield after the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 8-5. “I almost snapped, but I thought about the consequences.”
“I got punched in the mouth when I reached down and grabbed the ball,” Sheffield said. “You don’t expect that in a baseball game.”
“Ron Artest, that’s the first thing that came to mind – don’t react,” said Sheffield, recalling November’s Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons fracas, when Artest went into the stands to attack fans at the NBA venue in Auburn Hills, Mich. “I didn’t throw any punches. My temper got the best of me for a second, but I held back.”
According to fan Chris Lyons, 19, of Milton, who was sitting nearby, “(House) definitely tried to hit him. You could tell. And right away, Gary looked up and went nuts.”
Helen Lambropolous of Haverhill, one of two women who could be seen on TV replays guarding their beer just off to the side of where House was standing, said she believed the whole incident was a “misunderstanding.” The other woman, Linda Annese of Saugus, said, “My gut feeling from watching (House) was that it wasn’t malicious at all.”
Keith Whamond of New Haven, Conn., also felt there was no malicious intent on House’s part. “Gary got up in the guy’s face,” Whamond said. “They were definitely in each other’s face and Gary was saying, `The guy tried to (expletive) punch me.'” (Boston Herald)

“He would never do that,” Jodi Ingerbritson told the Herald.
Ingerbritson’s fiance, Chris House of Dorchester, was escorted out of Fenway – but not arrested – following the eighth-inning incident. As Sheffield chased Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek’s triple around the low wall in the right-field corner, the right fielder appeared to come into contact with House.
“He just said he was going for the ball,” Ingerbritson said in defense of House.
“(Sheffield) got all steroid-ish and punched him with the glove,” said Rachel Amaral, 16, of Raynham. “All he (the fan) was doing was reaching down to catch the ball.” (Boston Herald)

My take?
I don’t think the fan was going after the ball, but I don’t think he was trying to hit Sheffield. What it seemed to me was that he quickly swung what definitely could be percieved as an uppercut. It seemed to me that he was trying to distract Sheffield. He’s looking down as he begins his swing, then looks up before he completes it. There’s no way he was trying to go after the ball. I just doubt that he was trying to hit Sheffield, but that may be the optimist in me. Either way, I believe he did make contact with Sheffield’s jaw.
However, the next move Sheffield made was completely unprofessional. Instead of completing the play, he dissapointed his team by taking the time to go after the guy (Chris House) before throwing the ball back in. Anyone else think that if he throws the ball back in right away that David Ortiz doesn’t score? Maybe it’s just me. Anyways, that move was completely classless by Sheffield, both a disservice to himself and his team. A lot of people seem to be glossing over the fact that he did this and are praising him for holding back after he throws the ball back in.
He probably SHOULD be praised for holding back considering his history, but come on now. He did the right thing after throwing the ball back in. He did the incorrect thing first, then the right thing. He goes into the stands, and Sheffield is lambasted, as he should have been. But I don’t think we can ignore the first punch and focus on the fact that he decided to hold back and argue the second time. I’m not trying to defend the fan, he made the wrong move, but Sheffield said he “almost snapped”. Yikes. You punch (try to, at least) a fan, throw the ball back in when it should have been in earlier, go after the fan with a closed fist before restraining himself and yelling, and that’s not snapping? Yikes. Sheffield was in the wrong more than the fan in the way he responded. House was wrong in what he did, but my opinion is that Sheffield should be skewered more.
However, there was another fan that was an idiot. He was drinking a beer, then flipped the beer on Sheffield. Classless, and the attention should be directed to him. However, to be fair to the beer guy, he didn’t “dissapear like a pansy.” The woman he was with freaked out, fell backwards into the man (who tried to stay up) who fell down. The woman was also yelling ‘let’s get out of here!”
Anyways, that’s my take, and I’m hoping all of us can just move on. House was wrong, Sheffield was wrong. What I think is that House was penalized for having to be ejected, so his punishment is fine. I’m not advocating Sheffield being suspended, but I think he should be at least fined. That won’t happen though, as all major media reports seem to be calling Sheffield a deity.
Tonight it’s the Human Tornado versus … I dunno, the Fat Beer Guy? I’ll be attending, and I’m excited. I’ll see Wells in person, and if he’s on, he’s great to watch. (Unless he was on as a Yankee against us, the completely fustrating to watch.) And I’ve always liked Hideo Nomo. He was a cog in what was the horrible 2001 season, and I was sad to see him leave. He had three effective years for the Dodgers before falling into an abyss of injuries last year, finishing with an ERA over 8.00. He’s resurrected his career with the Devil Rays and looks to post another fine season. I have a feeling tonight’s going to be a good game, the Red Sox winning (of course) something like 5-3, 5-4. We shall see. Hopefully Hideo doesn’t throw another no-no…