April 15, 2005

More On The Sheffield Incident

The morning papers quote fans who were also in Section 86 last night. (Hey, you think a certain columnist might have made something of "Section 86" had Boston not won the World Series last year? Just wondering ...) The fan who allegedly made contact with Gary Sheffield is Chris House.

Chris Lyons (sitting nearby): "[House] definitely tried to hit him. You could tell. And right away, Gary looked up and went nuts."

Helen Lambropolous (one of two women closest to the play): "[House] was reaching for the ball. When the ball came down here they may have rubbed against each other. [Sheffield] screamed, 'Don't you touch me!' when he came back."

Linda Annese (the other woman): "My gut feeling from watching [House] was that it wasn't malicious at all. He was clearly going for the ball and not taking a swing at [Sheffield]."

Keith Whamond (sitting directly behind House): "Everybody was just going for the ball as it was banging around. Sheffield said, 'Don't [expletive] punch me. He kept saying, 'This guy tried to punch me.' Nothing malicious happened out here. They both went for the ball."

Matt Donovan (sitting two seats away from House): "Sheffield was being a thug. He yelled '--- you, you mother!' and I thought he was going to hit him."

Brian Giguere (sat two rows back): "[House] was never going for the player, he was trying for the ball. They just connected when he was reaching."

Jodi Ingerbritson (House's fiancee): "He just said he was going for the ball. He's been a season ticket-holder for a lot of years and he's always careful not to interfere with the ball."

House: "I'm not going to say anything till [today]."

Boston Dirt Dogs has info from WEEI's callers about the drunken state of House and his friends. If there is any news about this in Boston, BDD'll have it first. ... Denton of Surviving Grady was sitting in Section 89: "The fan was trying to knock Sheffield's cap off, instead hitting him in the mouth. ... Sheffield's reaction was justified when he tried to punch the 'fan'. ... The woman in the next seat did not douse Sheffield with a beer. The man one seat to her left absolutely and intentionally did throw his beer at Sheffield."

Some Sheffield quotes:
I don't know if he punched me or not. I almost snapped. It could've been worse if I didn't hold my composure.

I felt it. It felt like my lip busted. I tried to continue with the play.

I just felt like I was getting hit in the mouth, and I couldn't take it. ... He hit me, and I reacted.

It felt like a hand hit me in the mouth, but I have to look at the tape.

From the print edition of New York Times: "Sheffield said he did not "throw no punch or nothing..." (web link omits the direct quote)
Steve Buckley of the Herald wrote that Joe Torre is "often the voice of reason in these matters," but notes that right after saying the fan took "a cheap shot," the Yankee manager "admitted that not only could he not see the play from the third base dugout, but that he had yet to see a replay." ... Torre: "I was just too far away. I wasn't even aware anything had happened until some younger eyes told me." ... Torre also made multiple references to a fan coming onto the field. "Somebody came out of the stands and whacked Shef, that's basically what happened."

Bob Klapisch (Bergen Record) can't make up his mind: "... near-brawl between Gary Sheffield and a fan who struck the right fielder in the face ... Sheffield took a glancing blow from a fan ... [never saw] the blow that struck him squarely on the mouth."

John Harper (Daily News) has a greater grasp on reality:
Sheffield didn't show as much restraint as he was trying to tell everyone last night, after his incident with a fan at Fenway Park. ... [E]ven though Sheffield maintained that he didn't throw a punch, the tape shows that he took a full-blown swipe at the fan, before he even threw the ball back into the infield. ... How hard [the fan] hit [Sheffield] was hard to tell, and certainly it didn't look like it was as hard as Sheffield indicated, when he said he "got punched in the mouth."
Jon Heyman (Newsday) says Sheffield "became so unglued ... violent response was a stark overreaction to a fan's clumsiness. ... The fan reached over the wall in an apparent attempt to gather the $9 baseball and nicked the $13-million-a-year Sheffield's face instead, sending the outfielder over the edge. ... Sheffield needs to be punished, too. Ten games is about right."

The covers of the New York tabloids: Daily News and the Post! ... Even after seeing the replay dozens of times, there is no consensus at SoSH about what happened.

Francona on Papa Jack's ejection: "The explanation I got was he could read [Jackson's] lips. That [expletive] guy can't even see a ball in front of him. That was a [expletive] answer." ... Schilling on Gibson: "His own crew doesn't even like him."

Varitek played the game with a fever of 102. ... More on the bias over at Al-Yankzeera. ... Did Alex Rodriguez save a kid's life on Newbury Street yesterday? The story apparently originated from Slappy himself and has more holes than the Yankee infield.

Wade Miller pitched 4.2 innings (73 pitches) for Greenville (A) on Wednesday. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out four. He'll make somewhere between two and four more starts -- including next Monday with Class A Wilmington -- before being activated. Francona: "From the reports we got, innings two and four were good and one and three were so-so. ... He had a good breaking ball and his velocity was up to 90." The Globe notes that the Red Sox have also reworked Miller's mechanics.

Devil Rays Match-Ups:
Friday: David Wells / Hideo Nomo - 7:00
Saturday: Matt Clement / Dewon Brazelton - 7:00
Sunday: Tim Wakefield / Scott Kazmir - 2:00

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