Friday, September 20, 2013

Pettitte's Last Hurrah - Announces Retirement

I started writing this column as Andy Pettitte took the mound to face the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. Little did I know that my feelings and thoughts on Pettitte possibly retiring after the season would come to fruition before the season even ended.

On the last Friday of the Summer, Pettitte decided to announce his retirement at season's end. He didn't want to encroach on Mariano Rivera's big day at Yankees Stadium on Sunday, when the Yankees will honor the greatest closer of all time. Pettitte decided to announce it at Rivera's urging and so that the fans would know before Game 162. (Pettitte already has a lot on his plate this week; he'll be deposed as part of the Brian McNamee's lawsuit against Roger Clemens.)

Here's Pettitte's statement released earlier Friday afternoon.
“I’m announcing my retirement prior to the conclusion of our season because I want all of our fans to know now — while I’m still wearing this uniform — how grateful I am for their support throughout my career. I want to have the opportunity to tip my cap to them during these remaining days and thank them for making my time here with the Yankees so special. 
“I’ve reached the point where I know that I’ve left everything I have out there on that field. The time is right. I’ve exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that’s exactly how I want to leave this game. 
“One of the things I struggled with in making this announcement now was doing anything to take away from Mariano’s day on Sunday. It is his day. He means so much to me, and has meant so much to my career that I would just hate to somehow take the attention away from him.”
During his 3:30 PM press conference Friday afternoon Pettitte said he was mentally exhausted. That he was using up everything he had in the tank. Pettitte had intended to retire after the 2012 season, but changed his mind after a broken ankle forced him to miss most of the season.

As a fan I have two regrets regarding Andy Pettitte. One, that he left for Houston after the 2003 season and two, his use of HGH that will eliminate any chance of him earning a spot in the MLB Hall of Fame. Pettitte was asked about regrets during the presser and he brought up the HGH, but in an odd way. He felt bad that it got out and that any kid would think he tried to cheat the game, the fans, other players, etc. He never said he regretted using HGH and as much as I respect him, Pettitte is wrong not to say that he never cheated or tried to cheat anyone.  I do believe he used it to get back quicker, not to get an advantage, but that still is taking a short cut/cheating.

Pettitte leaves with five World Series rings, 255 career wins as of Friday (YES' Jack Curry mentioned on YES that Pettitte is one of just 26 pitchers to have a career record of at least 100 games over .500), three All-Star appearances and four top five Cy Young finishes. (I still believe that Pettitte, not Pat Hentgen, should have won the award in 1996 when he came in second place, six votes behind the Blue Jays pitcher.)

Here's what I had written Tuesday 9/17 and hadn't finished:

Before the Yankees sleep walked their way through a 2-0 loss to the last place Toronto Blue Jays, I pondered the very real notion that Andy Pettitte was making on of the last starts of his career. The 41-year old was the hard luck loser after he allowed a Colby Rasmus solo home run in the 4th inning. (Shawn Kelley surrendered a solo shot as well to Rajai Davis.)

Pettitte's season started strong then went through a big rough patch and finally straightened back out. Unfortunately, the Yankees bullpen blew a couple of games and Tuesday night he got no run support. His 10-10 record is completely misleading - in his last 48.2 innings, the tall Texan has allowed just 11 earned runs (2.03 ERA). Weather permitting, Pettitte is scheduled for two more starts, this Sunday at home against the San Francisco Giants (very apropos that it is Mariano Rivera Day since the Yankees closer has saved more games for Pettitte than anyone else.)

While much has deservedly been made about Rivera's final season, people don't know what to think about Pettitte since he's in his third tour of duty with the Yankees and sat out the 2011 season. My hunch is that this will be the end of the line for Pettitte. He recently said the mental preparation is tougher than physical readiness.

With home so far away and his kids growing up, I believe Pettitte will determine that full time Dad is his job for the foreseeable future.  The departure of Rivera, Derek Jeter's injury, Alex Rodriguez's pending suspension, Robinson Cano's free all has to play into Pettitte's thinking. The Yankees ability or inability to compete in 2014 could have a major impact on Pettitte's final decision.

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