You've heard it in the newspapers. You've heard it on the internet. You've heard it on the radio. Now you are going to hear it from me: that man in the stands, who supposedly struck Gary Sheffield on purpose during the April 14th game between the Sox and the Yanks, did not hit Sheffield on purpose.
Let me pose a simple question: if you were to hit someone, would you look straight at them? Of course you would. You wouldn't be looking left, right, up or down. You'd be looking straight at the person you wanted to clock. Was the man in the stands? Nope. He wasn't even looking in the general direction of Sheffield when he hit him.
Let me pose another simple question: if you were a season ticket holder for the Red Sox and the New England Patriots, would even think about hitting a player, for the chance of losing any, or all, of your tickets? I know Sheffield is a Yankee, and it's very tempting, but you can be the most ignorant man on the face of the earth, but if you have season tickets, you aren't going to hit a player.
After checking out the replays and listening to other people speak of the situation, I've come to the conclusion that the fan didn't purposely hit Sheffield, and that there are two things that he may have possibly been doing.
One possibility, which I think may be the most likely conclusion, is that he was telling the fans not to touch the ball by waving his arm and signaling for them to move their hands. Not possible? Think if you were in his situation, and you wanted them to move their hands so they won't interfere with the play. Odds are you'd yell, and do some type of motion with your arms for them to get what you are saying. You wouldn't sit idly by and go, "hey, guys, if you could politely just move your hands away from the baseball, I'm sure Mr. Varitek would appreciate it."
Another possibility may be that the fan was making the motion of sending the runner home, like Dale Sveum, the third base coach, would do. The fan certainly wasn't looking at Sheffield, so maybe he just saw the ball coming and tracked the runners and started to do the arm-swinging motion. You are lying if you say you've never done that, too.
There are other possibilities, but right now, after viewing the footage numerous times, but never really taking the time to track every minute detail, I think those are the two things that most likely happened. Could I be wrong? Of course I could, but it will take a lot of new information (and maybe a confession) for me to sway my thinking.