Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/29/13
Andy Pettitte deserved a night like last night. A 17-year veteran in the league, Pettitte honored the game by competing viciously hard his entire career, by spilling out his guts on the mound every time he pitched. Pettitte is one of those players – others being David Ortiz and Jeff Bagwell – who the game has forgiven for taking steroids based on his otherwise sparkling representation of baseball. The MLB, you get the feeling, would quickly send Pettitte to an Alternate Sports Universe as one of the league’s ambassadors…and he has committed the game’s ultimate sin. There’s certainly something to be said for that. Andy Pettitte turned back the clock in his final Major League appearance. The end for Pettitte, though, was obscured by the end for Mariano Rivera, whose goodbye to baseball set a new standard for legendary farewells. This never bothered Pettitte, who was happy to ride off into the sunset on a smaller horse behind his old friend, but there was a sense of neglect in the way the game was sending off one of its most appreciated players. Sure, the Yankees held a small ceremony in his honor on Wednesday and included him – almost by obligation – in Mo’s retirement party, but Pettitte never really had a night of his own, one final chance to absorb the spotlight and play one-more-song! Finally, back home in Houston, on the penultimate day of the season, he had the stage to himself. He had the night. As he has always done, Andy rose to the occasion. The biggest moments have brought out the best in him since 1995, when he kick-started a sterling postseason career with a 7-inning effort against the Mariners in the ALDS. He earned a no-decision that night but would go on to win 19 games in October to establish himself as one of the best Big Game pitchers in the league. And though last night was an insignificant game by all outward measures, in the narrative of Pettitte’s career it meant more than the standings could ever tell. So Pettitte, in vintage form, battled the Astros all night long, scattering five hits over nine innings for his first complete game in seven years. It took him 116 pitches to do it, and how couldn’t it have? If Pettitte was going to weave one more gem on a Major League mound, it was going to be in the way he has always done it: with his brim low over his eyes – his gaze unyielding – and his heart on his sleeve. He threw each one of those 116 pitches like they were his last, and that’s not because they actually were. No, Pettitte emptied the tank every single time he took the hill in the past 17 years, leaving nothing but the rosin bag and the rubber on the mound as he ran off it. So last night was simply instinct. And instincts never die. He used the cutter, the slider, the fastball and the big, slow curve, and he used them masterfully. He induced two double play groundballs to help him escape jams when he needed to, pounding his glove each time in fiery approval. At 41 years old, after 531 Major League appearances, these games mean as much to him now as they did in 1995, 3,316 innings ago. It’s this fierce desire to win, this self-sacrificial approach to the game, that endeared Pettitte to his teammates of 17 different seasons and earned him unanimous respect around the league. That’s why the Houston fans were cheering their local hero on against their hometown team. And that’s why the Astros themselves, most of whom have never played with Pettitte, rose to the top step of the dugout to applaud him – to salute him – after he recorded the final out. With the win, Pettitte brought his season record to 11-11. He is now the only pitcher in the history of baseball who has played for 15 or more seasons without once having a losing record. His category. His record. His night.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Winners and losers from NFL Saturday in Week 15

Lions break out Rockettes celebration after touchdown

Steve Kerr: Draymond Green shoulder issues ‘a little bit concerning’

Dodgers reacquire Matt Kemp from Braves for Adrian Gonzalez

Lakers’ Caldwell-Pope to miss games due to legal agreement

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Boise State gets too cute on Statue of Liberty play

Bill Cowher has no interest in coaching New York Giants

Report: Yankees re-sign CC Sabathia to $10 million contract

Baker Mayfield has high praise for Georgia defense

Is Vince McMahon looking to bring back the XFL?

Conor McGregor wants 'a real fight', says MMA is next up for him

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Five MLB teams that should trade for Manny Machado

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Eight NFL teams who simply need to start over

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Yankees News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker