For Sheffield and Delgado, There’s a Game within the Game

April 17, 2009

I’m sure most of you have heard of the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In the case of two Mets veterans this season, forty-year-old Gary Sheffield and first baseman Carlos Delgado, who will turn 38 in June, they have taken that adage and given it a new meaning. Throughout most of their illustrious careers, Sheffield and Delgado have been referred to as sluggers. For any major league player, being labeled a slugger means most likely you’ll age like a fine wine. Why, you ask? Because nine times out of ten, a slugger possesses the ability to hit homeruns, lots of them.

Entering the 2009 season, Sheffield, who is the principal owner of 499 career homeruns and Delgado, who’s no slouch at 469 are both vying for baseball immortality. For them, the one trick they still possess, which is hitting homeruns, hopefully will be enough of an advantage to push them above that almighty 500 home run plateau. As I am writing this particular post, Delgado has just clobbered a 3 balls, no strike pitch to right field putting the Mets up 3-0 in the first inning. In just eight games, Delgado now has three homeruns which raises his career total to 472. As I was saying, the tenure of these two veritable ball players, one who has earned the right as that of a mainstay for the Mets the last three seasons and the other, who was recently acquired at the league minimum for none other than his lethal right-handed bat are both well-deserving of reaching such a demonstrative feat.

It’s now the bottom of the eighth inning, the Mets are losing 6 to 5 to the Padres and Sheffield has been called on to pinch hit. With that, the umpire calls out for the bat boy to switch out the ordinary game balls for specially-marked baseballs that produce an MLB hologram when they’re place under a ultra-violet light. The Mets have never had a player hit their 500th homerun wearing a Mets uniform. Sheffield and his signature waggle could not only be the first one to achieve it but could also tie the game with just one swing. However, the longer it takes him to finalize his quest, the more the elder statesman will be accepted by the Mets faithful. Then again, tying up this ball game would be just as special. What do ya know? Sheffield walks.

I have often felt that baseball’s homerun is somewhat overrated. Nevertheless, the reaction that I receive from witnessing a booming moon shot off the bat of Carlos Delgado is enough to make me reevaluate my opinion. As for Sheffield, I have not had as much exposure as I would’ve liked but I’m sure glad that I’ve been invited along for the ride.

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