I have to admit, good will toward Sheffield was not the only motivation for wishing so hard.
I've been a pretty strong supporter of Sheffield throughout his thick and thin tenure here. I've always admired him as an all-around hitter, and his base-running instincts are really something to behold. Even now as he knocks on 40's door, he's a good baserunner.
One of the most entertaining things about Sheff is that he thinks his eye is flawless. If he takes a pitch (other than the first pitch, which he almost never swings at), he figures it's a ball, and better be called as such. No kidding, watch his at bats--if he takes a pitch and it's called a strike, he either turns away from the umpire to calm himself down and mask his disgust, or lets the ump know what he thought of the call. It's a lot of fun to watch.
Anyway, back to 499. I did want Gary to get 500 this year for the achievement, but I'm sorry to say more selfish factors played into it as well. First, it would be great to see him do it in a Tigers uniform. Second, and more importantly, it might cause him to retire, saving us $14 million off our payroll next year, and freeing up the DH spot for one of the many DH types still on our team (most prominently Carlos Guillen). Finally, it would've been a great way to end a brutal season.
I'm sorry, but Leyland stayed with Sheff way too long this year, when it was obvious to me that he should've been on the 60 day DL. He was clearly hampered with the shoulder, and simply should not have been in the lineup.
Like I said, I like Sheff, and his career has been incredible. He did show some signs of being more back to himself at the end of the season, but at his age, and the history of shoulder trouble, and the many designated hitters waiting in the wings, it's $14 million too much on our payroll.