Baseball is a team sport, or at least most of us would like to think it is. The Yankee teams of the mid-to-late 1990's personified the team concept; whether it was Andy Pettitte bearing down for a strikeout after Tino Martinez muffed a catch, or Bernie Williams putting together a productive at bat after Paul O'Neill struck out with a man in scoring position, the players on those teams acted as one unit, working together to achieve a common goal. In light of this, it's also appropriate to acknowledge individual milestones in baseball, as long as it's done with class and selflessness. The 2006 baseball campaign should bring some Yankee players their share of milestones, like Shawn Chacon making his 100th career start (he's a 95), or Bernie Williams driving in his 1,200th run (he's at 1,196 RBIs), but here's a look at some of the more impressive milestones that should be eclipsed within the next few months:Jason Giambi Milestone
: 1,000 career runsHe needs
: 75 runsETA
: mid-to-late AugustDerek JeterMilestone
: 2,000 career hitsHe needs
: 64 hitsETA
: mid-to-late MayRandy JohnsonMilestone
: 4,500 career K'sHe needs
: 128 K'sETA
: mid-to-late JulyMariano RiveraMilestone
: 400 career savesHe needs
: 21 savesETA
: late June, early JulyGary SheffieldMilestone
: 1,500 RBIsHe needs
: 24 RBIsETA
: mid MaySheffield (cont'd)Milestone
: 1,500 runsHe needs
: 89 runsETA
: early-to-mid September
Sheffield both scoring and driving in 1,500 runs is especially impressive as he'll become only the 30th man in MLB history to accomplish that feat, joining Hank Aaron, Cap Anson, Jeff Bagwell, Jake Beckley, George Brett, Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Nap Lajoie, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Rafael Palmeiro, Cal Ripken, Frank Robinson, Babe Ruth, Michael Jack Schmidt, Al Simmons, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams, Dave Winfield, and Carl Yastrzemski. How prestigious is that list? Everyone except Bagwell, Bonds, Palmeiro and Ripken are enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and 3 of those guys are expected to become HOFers within a few years (maybe 4 depending on how you feel about Raffy Palmeiro).
Sheffield certainly has had his unprofessional moments throughout his career, such as purposefully throwing the ball into the stands in Milwaukee, or whining his way out of Chavez Ravine, or even saying he'd dog it if the Yankees dealt him. Say what you want about his attitude, but the man has produced like a Hall of Famer, and he deserves credit for it.
Here's a question: if Sheff does make into the Hall, what cap does he wear? He has the most service time with the Marlins (4+ yrs), but his most productive seasons have come with the Dodgers (3+ years), Braves (2 yrs) and Yankees (at least 2 years). Hmmm....