37 years youngApril 9, 2010
I drafted Andy Pettite on my fantasy team this year, planning to use him for spot starts against lesser competition. When his turn came on Wednesday to pitch against the Sawx, I immediately added him to my bench. No way was I starting him in Fenway and risking my team ERA sky-rocketing. Like a lot of outsiders, I doubted that the lefty had any gas left in the tank.
I say outsider because I am not a Yankees fan. Even though I grew up in a Yankees household, I despise the team and 90% of their players. Their fans (and Michael Kay) like to think they are the greatest in the world, but they are front-runners. When the Yankees sucked in the 80’s and early 90’s nobody went to Yankees games. My dad always told me that when he was growing up they would give away Yankees tickets cause nobody wanted to go to their games. It’s the same with the Mets, the Dodgers, the Phillies, the Knicks, the Patriots, etc. If the team is not performing, fans will not go to games. Sure there are die-hard fans out there, and I am definitely generalizing, but at least half of the Yankees fan base is made up of band-wagoners. It takes much more “fandom” to root for a team that doesn’t always make the playoffs. In my eyes, for the most part you’re not a real fan unless you experience heartbreak, and losing in the playoffs is not true agony.
But I digress….
The reason I began talking about my hate for the Yankees and benching the lefty on my fantasy team is to segway to the un appreciation of Andy Pettite. When a non-Yankee fan looks at the team and the “home-growners, ” they admire Derek Jeter, the great Mariano Rivera, and even Jorge Posada for being one of the few offensive catching threats left in the game. Often overlooked has been Andy Pettite, who like Posada is a rare-breed in baseball. How many other pitchers in their mid to late 30’s are still throwing quality ball games?
At age 37, Pettite has somehow managed to claim his spot as a mainstay in the Yankees rotation. A starting staff that features CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Javier Vazquez, all pitchers who have the skills to win a Cy-Young. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who never really had an electric fastball or the nastiest breaking pitches. All Pettite has continued to do, nonetheless, is win ball games and fluff his resume for the hall of fame. Entering his 16th Major League season, the Texas native has 229 wins and a career ERA of 3.90.
Yesterday my father pointed out an article that stated Jeter, Posada, and Rivera have set a record across all four major sports by playing on the same team for 16 straight seasons. Pretty impressive in a day where there is no loyalty in sports and it’s very rare for an athlete to play their entire career on one team.
Left out again was Pettite, who should be in that group but was exported to Houston for three years. Like many people across baseball, the Yankees undervalued the lefty but have since made up for their mistake.
This could be the last hoorah for Andy Pettite, and as a life-long Yankees hater I just thought I’d give one of the few likeable Yankees some props. While I don’t think Andy will ever reach Hall of Fame status, the success of the Yankees in the last 10-15 years is not just because of Jeter, Mariano, and Posada. Pettite has played a pivotal role in the Pin Stripes dominance over the sport and I am happy to say he will be inserted into my lineup against the Angels next week.
Don’t let me down, Andy.