I realize that I am very late in writing my obligatory reaction to Andy Pettitte retiring but I was hit with the deadly combo of being sick for several days and then immediately being slammed with work. I’ve had zero energy for the last two weeks and so it was hard to sit down and write. I have finally found the willpower to put together a post, however, so here we go.
I made a lot of jokes that if/when Andy retired that I’d cry and do my best Greek mourner impression and be generally inconsolable. It seems I got that out of my system when he left the Yankees for Houston after 2003, however, because while I felt a little tinge of sadness it was nothing over the top. My in my head response was “Goddammit” and then I got caught in a coughing fit and made a face and sent some kind of swear out over my Twitter account I think.
And then, strangely, the next thing that popped into my head was “Who is Alex [Rodriguez] going to talk to now?” The last few seasons of watching Alex run and immediately find Andy for hugs, talks, whatever have been really amusing and I’m sad that there won’t be any of that to watch out for during not very exciting games anymore.
I first remember seeing Andy pitch at a game in 1995 that I went to with my mom’s best friend. It was a Friday night and we were missing the X-Files to attend a game where the Yankees couldn’t get anything off Chuck Finley which was always aggravating. I didn’t really know who Andy was then, when we got home and my mom asked who pitched for the Yankees I told her “some guy with too many ts in his name”. I don’t have a path that I can trace from that moment to when Andy became my favorite baseball player but it happened at some point. I wish it was some kind of revelation I could relate that sounds cool and interesting but I’ve really got nothing to tell.
However it happened, though, I really loved Andy beyond the normal “I like watching this baseball player, he is good at his job” feelings. I got really nervous when he was pitching with runners on base, and I was known to cover my face with a cat/book/pillow when he was working “into and out of trouble”. It was very stressful–not just because of how I felt about him but because of his mound mannerisms. When a player you are very fond of is yelling at himself on the mound as he pitches it’s hard to stay calm. Obviously it usually worked for him (if it hadn’t he would have been branded with the HEADCASE label rather quickly) but Jesus it was nerve wracking to watch.
There was a lot of Hall of Fame and number retirement rumblings from fans pretty much as soon as the word got out that Andy was retiring so I also wanted to get this out of the way: I don’t think he really fits the criteria for either. I think that a lot of why Yankees fans want these things to happen is because of the love they feel for Andy, and really want to see him honored and not forgotten. I completely understand that, and it’s a shame that the Yankees do not have a traditional team Hall of Fame because he certainly belongs there. Nobody is going to forget about Andy, though, so I don’t get that fear. There are simply too many people that love him.
I think Andy should get a plaque in Monument Park like Allie Reynolds, and an Andy Pettitte day, and come to every Old Timer’s Day until he can no longer make it because he had a very good career and was very important to the teams he was on…but I just don’t see that jump to number retirement and the Hall. Maybe I view them a little differently, but when the Yankees eventually give 46 to someone new it won’t bother me. Perhaps it’ll even go to a young LHP who loved Andy, I always like when things like that happen.