USA Today has a funny history of hosting some of Gary Sheffield’s more spectacular quotes. The newspaper-cum-kid’s-menu had Sheff claiming he’d outnegotiated George Steinbrenner a couple of years back (when the contract itself was still unsigned), and today, Bob Nightengale is essentially helping the Little Mustache clean out his locker.

New York Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield heard the news Sunday, and snickered, wondering if this was someone’s idea of a cruel joke.

“I can’t believe they’re going to get rid of (Joe) Torre,” Sheffield said of the Yankee manager, “I figured they’d be trying to get rid of me and A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) first.

“It’s hard for me to even fathom that somebody would want to trade A-Rod, but I don’t see things getting any better for him. It’s going to be very difficult for him to come back. Who knows what’s going to happen with me.”

Joe Torre, who managed the Yankees to 11 consecutive postseason appearances, has come under scrutiny for the Yankees’ latest playoff loss. He benched Sheffield in Game 3 and first baseman Jason Giambi in Game 4 of the playoffs, and caused a firestorm when he demoted Rodriguez to the eighth spot in the batting order in Game 5.

“I think that affected the morale and psyche of the entire team, not just A-Rod,” Sheffield said. “”I’m not making any excuses, but everyone was wondering what was going on. It made it a real weird day. You would like to be treated with a little respect, I don’t care who you play for.

“We were worrying about all of that stuff, and we still had a game to play. If I’m on the other side, and all of a sudden they’re putting Rodriguez eighth and putting me or Jason on the bench, you wonder what’s going on. Those guys [the Tigers] were asking me about it. I think it boosted their morale. It gave them confidence they didn’t have.

“[Tigers manager] Jim Leyland took advantage of that. He can make you believe anything. He can put a fire under your belt like you never had before in your life.”

Bronx Banter’s Alex Belth insists “I don’t have anything against the Tigers, and I think they have the best home uniforms in the game next to the Yankees,” yet he thought the post-game celebrations at Comerica were a little over the top.

I understand there has been bupkus to cheer about for Tiger fans, and I think the effusiveness expressed by the players were genuine and sincere. So it’s not like I was offended on principle or anything. But this was just the ALDS. What ever will they do for an encore? I felt they were gilding the lily some, but, what the hell do I know? The only thing I came away with watching Kenny Rogers lead the charge, standing on the dugout showering fans with champagne, was the thought that he will not win another game in October.

Indeed, bad things can happen when you high-five the great unwashed. Just ask Lastings Milledge. Still, I think it is hard to expect a team to act like they’ve been there before, when most of ’em haven’t.