So here I am all alone on a lovely Saturday afternoon in New York while my wife is on a business trip in Phoenix. I have two choices. I could take advantage and go outside to enjoy the comfortable mid-70s temperatures or I could stay inside my apartment pondering statistical data about a player who spent just one of his 22 seasons in the big leagues with the Mets.
Naturally, I decided on the latter option.
As you may or may not know, Gary Sheffield played 21 seasons in the major leagues before signing with the Mets just before the start of the 2009 campaign. Sheffield, the nephew of Mets legend Dwight Gooden, entered his final season in the majors needing one home run to join the exclusive 500-HR club - a fraternity that guaranteed Hall of Fame induction prior to the steroid era.
It took Sheffield just six games into his Mets' tenure to club his 500th homer, as the bat-wagging slugger took Milwaukee reliever Mitch Stetter deep at Citi Field on April 17, 2009. A joyful Sheffield trotted around the bases and received an ovation only a New York crowd could give. But Sheffield's landmark blast might not have occurred in the Big Apple had it not been for Mother Nature's interference just seven years earlier.
|This reaction might have come in a Detroit Tigers uniform had Mother Nature not paid a visit to Shea Stadium in 2002.|
Just seven years earlier, Sheffield was a member of the Atlanta Braves when the Mets' hated division rivals visited Shea Stadium for a four-game series in late June. The Braves took two of the first three games in the series, with Sheffield providing the game-winning grand slam off Mets reliever Scott Strickland in the third game on June 26. (That was career home run No. 327 for Sheffield, for those keeping score at home.) The next night, Sheffield crushed a two-run homer in the first inning off Mets starter Pedro Astacio to give Atlanta an early lead. But before the game became official, it was washed out by an early summer thunderstorm. That wasn't the only thing that was washed out, as Sheffield's 328th career homer had to be removed from the record books as well, since the game was called before the conclusion of the fifth inning.
Because Sheffield lost a home run at Shea Stadium due to the elements in 2002, he came to New York as a member of the Mets in 2009 with 499 career homers rather than an even five hundred. As a result, Sheffield made home run history as member of the Mets, just seven years after a home run he hit against the Mets was removed from the history books.
Today, Mother Nature is giving New Yorkers a taste of her sweetness. But over a decade ago, she showed Gary Sheffield her other side - the side that washed out a potential home run that would have prevented him from making history in a Mets uniform. And because of that side, I'm spending a lovely day inside my apartment sharing that story with you when I could be spending it outside with all the Gary Sheffield-loving Mets fans frolicking in Central Park.
It's a good thing I'm not as fickle as Mother Nature.