Count former slugger Gary Sheffield as someone who has no interest in the current state of baseball.
“I don’t watch baseball at all,” he told CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney show on Friday.
The nine-time All-Star and 1997 World Series champion served as a TBS studio analyst during the postseason until last season.
“I was kind of forced to watch baseball, because I was working with TBS,” he said. “And so I had to remember, really find out who were these players. I’ll tell you the secret now: I never watched the games during the season. I would get educated on it when I got there. … It’s not something that I could watch, based on what I’m seeing, because I’ll be a complainer. … This is the first time I’ve ever said that out loud, but I’m just truly disappointed with what I watch.”
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Sheffield was a fierce competitor know for his violent bat swing when he played during the 1990s and 2000s. He ranks 26th all-time with 509 home runs and retired with a .907 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, equaling first-ballot Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Ken Griffey Jr. And he never struck out more than 83 times in any of his 22 seasons.
“(It was exciting) when I was playing. They implemented all these rules now and they’ve changed the game so much, they’re making it more hitter-friendly — even without having success. These guys can go out there and strike out 180, 190 times, and it’s OK. And then all of a sudden they show a home run. Now, a home run is less appealing, when a home run was a big deal and more appealing (when I played) because it wasn’t happening as often as it is now. …
“When I see a pop-up player that everybody gravitates to — he’s the face of the team, the face of the city — and he has 100 strikeouts in April. When I see stuff like that, I’m not one of those older players that scoffs at the game and then talk about the game in a negative light. I just speak on facts. But what I do is meet these kids where they are at. That’s the way the game is played today, that doesn’t mean I have to watch it.”
In his sixth year on the Hall of Fame ballot, Sheffield garnered 40.6% of the vote — a far cry from the 75% needed for induction — but saw a noticeable increase (10.1%) from his 2020 total.
The outspoken star has four years remaining on the ballot.