A baseball All-Star’s memoir that reads like the opening salvo of a PR campaign.
As one of the sport’s elite players in the so-called “steroid era,” Sheffield, like fellow sluggers Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, will face added scrutiny when his name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot. This text seems designed to prove his innocence and polish his image. It begins in 1972 in Tampa, where his grandfather instilled a love of the game and a belief in “Inside Power”—and where four-year-old Gary caught blazing fastballs from his relative Dwight Gooden. Sheffield chronicles his rise through the baseball ranks, his womanizing, struggles with loneliness, public conflicts with various team owners and, finally, his redemption through God and the love of a good woman. Life today is not perfect; he continues to run on a short fuse and rails against the racial injustices both obvious and subtle that are still present in sports. There’s little doubt that the author has an interesting story to tell, and his credentials brook no debate about his place in baseball’s pantheon. Still, contrary to Sheffield’s claims that he’s incapable of making a positive PR move, it’s apparent that his primary intent is to enhance his Hall chances. He attempts to justify his many contract disputes and cites his impressive statistics as a measure of success even during seasons in which his teams fared poorly and he disrupted the clubhouse.
Unrelentingly self-serving, though it may find a few fans among the peanuts-and-crackerjacks crowd.