In yesterday's recaps I wondered whether it was time for Brewers fans to finally stop booing Gary Sheffield. Almost everyone that responded disagreed, noting that Sheffield is a special case inasmuch as his alleged tanking in Milwaukee was way worse than your usual knucklehead behavior. I guess I understand that. And, as The Star-Ledger's Brian Costa notes, it's not like Brewers fans are alone:
Sheffield has been booed loudly in several stadiums this season, a constant reminder of the bad will he has left behind in cities where he once played.
Eighteen years have passed since Sheffield last played for the Brewers, longer than Brett Favre's entire tenure in Green Bay, yet he is still treated like a public enemy here. Only a day off Wednesday spared him from more boos . . . But Brewers fans still remember. So do Braves fans, who booed Sheffield at Turner Field. And Dodgers fans, who booed him at Dodger Stadium.
So I understand why he is booed in Milwaukee, and I understand Los Angeles too -- he publicly bad-mouthed the front office and kept demanding to be traded while playing for the Dodgers -- but I don't get the booing in Atlanta.
The Braves traded for him in January 2002. The guys they gave up: Brian Jordan, Odalis Perez, and Andrew Brown -- did nothing after leaving to make Braves fans regret the trade (Jordan was popular in Atlanta, but not THAT popular). Sheffield, on the other hand, was spectacular in Atlanta: in 2002 he hit .307/.404/.512 and in 2003 he was even better: .330/.419/.604. I recall no incidents of him mouthing off like he did elsewhere. He even had a little cheering section of guys who wore chef hats and stuff. When he left, it wasn't because he demanded to leave. He simply became a free agent and the Yankees, as they tend to do, offered far more than the Braves were willing to offer.
It's possible that I'm just forgetting some big incident, but short of that, the only possible explanation I have for booing in Atlanta was that, years later, it was revealed that Sheffield used steroids, likely when he played for the Braves. But that doesn't make much sense either because Braves fans have never really gone out of their way to boo Mitchell Report players not named Barry Bonds, let alone ones that played in Atlanta. They kind of don't care about anything, really, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad.
Either way, though, it makes me wonder why they booed Sheff. Inertia? Bad day at the office? Anyone have any other ideas?