In the latest New York magazine, Gary Sheffield tells you all you need to know about the 2005 New York Yankees: they are doomed. In the interview, Sheffield maligns the New York media for writing flattering pieces solely about Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, implies that A-Rod and D-Jet aren't team leaders and declares that the whole Yankee franchise is anti-family. Instead of unifying his team towards a drive to the World Series, Sheffield has chosen to throw his teammates under the bus or more appropriate to 21st century sports, throw them from the private jet without a parachute.
Next to football, no sport requires more team unity and shared purpose than baseball. No matter how talented the player, he cannot win a baseball game, much less a division title or league championship on his own. Randy Johnson can throw perfect game after perfect game but he still needs his teammates to score at least one run for him to get the win. Although there have been some successes to the contrary, a team that cannot get along off the field will struggle to play as one on the field.
No matter how much money George Steinbrenner invests in his team, he is missing the one thing money can't buy: team chemistry. More than starting pitching and clutch hitting, Boston's team unity and heart and New York's equal lack of both were at the core of the Red Sox's historic comeback in last year's ALCS. The 2004 Red Sox truly got along, blatantly cheering and prodding each other on to victory. In your wildest dreams can you imagine Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez doing that wacky synchronized dance routine that Kevin Millar and Manny Ramirez came up with? No, I didn't think you could.
Ironically, one of Sheffield's complaints about the Yankees is the lack of team chemistry. How calling out his teammates and conceding that he wouldn't undertake any heroic gestures that might cause him injury will remedy the situation requires the use of a logic that I fear only Sheffield possesses. Despite having the highest payroll in baseball, the Yankees are currently second in the AL East and 3 games behind the A's in the wild card race. Were this a sports movie, this would be the time where the plot twist that unifies the Yankees and spurs them to victory would unfold. Sheffield's ill-timed and selfish statements aren't likely to cause the Yankees to rally around him, spontaneously join hands and sing a round of Kumbaya.