"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

“Shane, Come Back!”


Because, as Brian Cashman told reporters at the Winter Meetings yesterday, “this is what he always does,” I’ve half-assumed that Andy Pettitte would come back for another year. And if I had to put money down, I’d still guess that he will… but I also sort of conveniently forgot that he was now 38 years old and coming off a groin injury. Anyway, that Cashman line prompted my to look up the excellent Sports Illustrated lunch conversation between Tom Verducci and Musketeers Pettitte, Jeter, Posada and Rivera from just before spring training last season:

SI: How about when the season ends? You talk? Text?

Pettitte: We text.

Posada: We stay in touch. We try to get Andy to come back. ‘Andy, please come back. Please come back.’

SI: You guys took a picture together after the last game at Yankee Stadium in 2008. Do you guys do that every year?

Posada: Yeah, it’s Andy’s idea.

Rivera: Yeah, and it’s great because you don’t know how long we’re going to be together.

Jeter: We’ve done it other years because we did it when Bernie [Williams...] was there, too, right?

Posada: We’ve done it since ’03 because Andy’s been retiring since ’03.

Yesterday Andy Pettitte made a very Andy Pettitte-like call to Brian Cashman, and Chad Jennings at LoHud has the rather heartwarming details:

Andy Pettitte called Brian Cashman today. The message was vague and uncertain, but the purpose was direct and to the point. Pettitte still hasn’t decided whether he’s going to retire, but he had to make sure his indecision wasn’t negatively affecting the Yankees offseason.

“If I had to bet at some point, I think he’ll play,” Cashman said. “But he’s telling me right now he’s leaning the other way. He just doesn’t want to hold us up.”

Cashman said there was nothing Pettitte said that gave him reason for optimism, he simply believes — because “this is what he always does” — that Pettitte will eventually have a change of heart and decide to pitch one more year. For now, though, it’s completely up in the air.

This is a little gesture, but it’s one that a lot of players wouldn’t bother to make, and it’s things like this that give Pettitte his aw-shucks good guy reputation. When he finally does retire he will be hugely missed, and as always I just hope it isn’t this year. Aside from the fact that, especially in light of recent Red Sox developments, the Yanks could really, REALLY use a solid lefty this season, I want Pettitte to come back so that the fans can get a chance to say a proper goodbye. I remember someone pointing out, in Pettitte’s final 2010 playoff appearance, that it could be his last time in a Yankee uniform, but he hadn’t said anything yet, and the moment went almost entirely unacknowledged.

I have never really cried over baseball, but the closest I came was probably the 2001 World Series – those miraculous comebacks and, especially, the crowd chanting Paul O’Neill’s name. Of course the fall of 2001 was highly emotional for other, much more significant reasons, but that moment really got to me — and to O’Neill, who got awkward and embarrassed and teared up himself. It was Yankee fans at their best (the Bombers were losing at the time, after all), and the old Stadium at its most alive. That particular moment won’t ever be recreated, but Andy Pettitte deserves his own sendoff. He started, and won, the very first game I ever attended at Yankee Stadium – in 1995; I was 13 – and I would very much like to be there for his last. When all’s said and done I suppose you have to evaluate Andy Pettitte as a very good pitcher rather than, on the whole, a truly great one, but he had so many great and big and gutty games over the course of his career, and no player features in more of my Yankee memories.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Emma Span  Hot Stove

Tags:  2001  Andy Pettitte  Paul O'Neill

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18 comments

1 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 9, 2010 1:49 pm

Gutty!

2 ms october   ~  Dec 9, 2010 2:19 pm

haha, the posada quote is great.

would be nice if he could get a good send-off.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 9, 2010 3:09 pm

I said this before, but if the Yankees lose out on Lee, I don't think there's any way Pettitte retires.

If they get Lee, I still think he comes back, but more 70-30.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 9, 2010 3:17 pm

I actually did cry when the Yanks won in '99 and Paul O'Neill fell down to his knees and cried for his father. Having lost my mother and sister two years earlier, I felt closer than I ever would to a player. It was a strange year because they were going through so many things those couple of years.

That's the difference for me between those teams and today. Today we're happy for guys like Swisher, Matsui and Alex who finally make it. But back then, the Yanks were family to us.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 9, 2010 3:25 pm

4) Easy to be fam when you win 4 of 6. Everything is elevated.

6 Emma Span   ~  Dec 9, 2010 3:34 pm

[4] Oh yeah, I remember that so clearly. Joe Torre came over and hugged O'Neill and he just lost it in Torre's arms. That was the day after his father died, or maybe even the same day. I teared up a little too.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 9, 2010 4:13 pm

His dad died either late the night before or early that morning. There was a question as to whether Paulie O would play that night.

Watching him collapse into Torre's arms was a great moment. Sojo's old man had died, same with Brosius, Torre had cancer that year, Joe D died...it was heavy.

8 unmoderated   ~  Dec 9, 2010 4:31 pm

I will certainly miss him if he goes.

Him against Smoltz in 1996, that sealed the deal for me.

I'm trying to think who pitched the first game I saw... 1985, I think. Against the A's... who knows.

Last game I went to Dan Giese was the starter.

9 Yankee Mama   ~  Dec 9, 2010 4:44 pm

I confess to various tearful moments in baseball, usually touched by circumstances, fan appreciation, etc. I almost never cry, but 2001 was palpable as being a New Yorker, I was so easily brought to tears by the raw emotion of what was going on around us vis a vis 9/11. I relied heavily on baseball as did a lot of people. That World Series was insane.

I cried in 1999 too. Paulie breaking down was more than I could bare.

10 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Dec 9, 2010 5:05 pm

Every time I see Andy's mug around here these days I experience a moment of anticipatory terror. Please, Andy, for the love of all things holy, just give us a proper retirement season, as Emma suggests.

I realize this may sound over the top but I had the feeling that I simply wouldn't be able to watch next season if he's not around.

It's really weird because I don't usually get this invested in players. I get pretty damned invested, to be sure, but I can't say I've had these kinds of feelings for a player since Mattingly.

11 BronxToCT   ~  Dec 9, 2010 5:06 pm

I've found that as every year passes, I get more "weepy" -- as my wife puts it -- about baseball, especially the Yanks. Don't know if it's due to the accumulated memory of all the years of watching the game and rooting for the team and the players, or I'm just getting older and more sentimental -- probably both.

12 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 9, 2010 5:07 pm

I’ve been crying over the Yankees since a damned Orioles double header back in 1983. Maybe my mother should have carried through on her threat to send me to a psychiatrist?

13 NoamSane   ~  Dec 9, 2010 5:14 pm

1st game: Catfish vs. Frank Tanana in Aug. '76 (only game I've ever left early--down 8-0, Yanks tied it with 8 in the bottom of the ninth. Never fully forgave my parents for dragging me out of there in the eighth.)

most recent game: CC dominated Buchholz and the Sawx in Aug. '09.

14 rbj   ~  Dec 9, 2010 5:25 pm

13 in 1995? Your a kid, Emma.

First game was Tommy John's return as an Angel. He had 3 WPs in first two innings, IIRC. Last game was probably 1989-90. After that, I've been all over the country, but always too far to get to the stadium.

15 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 9, 2010 6:41 pm

[14] I was eight. :)

16 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Dec 9, 2010 7:59 pm

I will say this about Andy Pettitte and where he ranks as a iconic player in my Yankee fandom. I've been in the Yankee clubhouse as a member of the media each of the last two seasons and seen most of the name players up close. Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Rodriguez, etc. The fan inside me certainly got a kick out of that, but the professional had no problem being dispassionate about it. Then Andy Pettitte walked by in his pinstripes, cap on head, black glove on hand, and my brain went "holy crap that's Andy Pettitte!"

I've said it many times, Game 5 of the 1996 World Series was the peak experience of my fandom. That was almost all Andy and he burned a place deep in my baseball-loving heart that night and has done little wrong in my eyes since.

17 chrismarz   ~  Dec 9, 2010 8:38 pm

Unfortunately for me, being in a yankee family from the Island in the late 70s meant my dad was afraid to take us to the Bronx, so I saw many terrible Mets games those years. At least I've seen enough great games over the last 15 years at the two stadiums to make up for the Bamberger/Torre years at Shea.

And I think Andy comes back, though we should be prepared for at least one extended DL stint. Let's get Lee and show Carl for what he really is: a whiffer on par with Mike Cameron!

18 noahseton   ~  Dec 9, 2010 8:44 pm

If he decides to retire, I'll miss Pettitte more than any of the 90s-00s Yanks save for Rivera. I remember cutting school with my three closest friends to see Opening Day in '96, the snow game, and I was lucky enough to be there for the Pettitee-Lee duel this fall.

Game 5 in '96 remains my favorite game ever too, Cliff. The tension as that game wore on was incredible, and I'll never forget jumping off the dorm room couch when Andy fielded the bunt and threw to third. I'd never seen that before.

In any event, the baseball season, and especially October, won't be the same without that great camera shot of the cap pulled low over Pettitte's eyes as he gets set to pitch.

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