Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 9/21/13
Yesterday, Andy Pettitte officially announced that he will retire following the season.  While he’s come out of retirement once before, Pettitte stressed it is different this time, stating he’s both mentally and physically exhausted by the game – a significant statement coming from a guy that’s been throwing for almost two decades. But how will we remember Andy Pettitte? Consistent lefty, five-time World Series Champion, or just another PED user that marred the fragile reputation of baseball? Honestly, it’s probably a combination of the three. In all 18 years of his career, Andy Pettitte has never been a flashy, dominating pitcher. Solid? Sure. Reliable? Definitely. Clutch? Indubitably. But never dominant. That’s not to say Pettitte isn’t one of the greatest pitchers to put on a Yankees uniform, nor does it take away from the fact that he’s the all-time leader in post-season wins (19) and starts (44) and the active leader in wins (255) and strikeouts (2,437). But Pettitte has accomplished his relatively lengthy list of accolades in a methodical and somewhat vanilla manner. In all 18 years of his career, Andy Pettitte has never been a flashy, dominating pitcher. Solid? Sure. Reliable? Definitely. Clutch? Indubitably. But never dominant. Andy has never won a Cy Young award, he’s never carried the league-best ERA and he’s never sniffed a strikeout crown. His lone piece of personal hardware is the 2003 Warren Spahn Award. Nothing to scoff at for certain, but I’m willing to bet some of you had to look up what the award is for.  Perhaps most tellingly, Pettitte’s career tally for complete game shutouts stands at just four, one less than Bartolo Colon and Justin Masterson have thrown in the 2013 season. But really, that’s Andy Pettitte.  For 18 years Andy has just been Andy – going deep into games, racking up IPs and being the reliable veteran arm that the Yankees could always count on in a big postseason game. His arm helped guide New York to five World Series Titles, outdueling John Smoltz in a pivotal 1-0 Game 5 in 1996, notching the series-clinching win in 1998, turning in a two run, no decision outing in Game 5 2000 Subway Series and picking up a win on three days rest in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series.  For 18 years Andy has just been Andy – going deep into games, racking up IPs and being the reliable veteran arm that the Yankees could always count on in a big postseason game.  He also helped the Houston Astros to their only franchise World Series berth in 2005. He wasn’t the Ferrari that turned a bunch of heads; he was the F-150 that got the job done. For all the success Andy has had in the steroid era and beyond, he was also, unfortunately, drawn into the fray himself.  In 2007 Pettitte was one of many players cited in the Mitchell Report for the use of HGH during the 2002 season, and it was later revealed that Pettitte used HGH a second time in 2004 as well.  Pettitte denied nothing, stating that he took HGH in order to come back from injury and was never looking to get an edge or improve himself beyond his natural capabilities. Pettitte’s candid nature also dragged him into a lengthy court process involving his longtime teammate and friend Roger Clemens, a process that continues to this day. It really begs the question: do we look more kindly on Pettitte for his transparency? If he really did take PEDs solely to honor the “obligation to his team”– and not to tack on a few miles per hour to his fastball – should that count for anything when discussing Pettitte’s Hall of Fame consideration? If history serves, it won’t matter. Ultimately, like Sosa, Clemens, McGuire and he others have found out, the voters will not look kindly upon the use of PEDs regardless or reason or capacity. Pettitte will likely be left out in the cold with nothing but his five World Series Rings, 19 post season victories and his name atop of the New York Yankees all-time strikeout list. Maybe though, in a strange way, that’s fitting. Andy was never a guy to “wow” you or steal the spotlight, he just did his job. He’ll forever be a beloved and respected member of Monument Park, etched eternally into the lore of Yankee Baseball. These days, that’s not a bad way to be remembered.

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

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