Andy Pettitte Gives It Another Go


It has always annoyed me when pundits and fans vehemently state that so-and-s0 should retire. The directive is shouted forcefully in print or out loud, as if these experts know better about how someone should live his life than that someone. I have always been a great believer that the athlete knows best. And it is the athlete’s right to make the choice about whether to stay or to go from his sport as long as a team will give him a job.

Pretty presumptious of us to tell someone to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives. A baseball player might have been involved in the game, his passion, for 30 years, from Little League onward and a know-it-all says he’s got to quit, right now, walk away. Fans might not believe a player can play anymore. Writers might not think a player can play anymore. Those who run franchises, from managers, to general managers and presidents might not think a player can play anymore.

But every one of them could be wrong and just moving to another team might solve a player’s problems. It is up to the player and no one else really when he should retire. He can consult with his parents, his wife, his kids, his friends. But not even they can make the decision for him. And that’s why we woke up one day this past week and were greeted with the news that former New York Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte wants to become current New York Yankee roster member Andy Pettitte again.

A year in retirement only made Pettitte’s heart grow fonder. He’s got the itch to pitch. This will be something to watch. It is one thing to retire and another thing quite altogether to unretire. Staying in a groove, working hard, pushing the body, for one more year, is easier than starting all over again getting into competition shape, steeling the mind with the proper level of mental toughness, taking the tools off the shelf and making certain they are in fine-tuned working order.

Pettitte is a 6-foot-5 southpaw who has 240 career wins and a lifetime 3.86 earned run average. He pitched for 16 seasons and in 2010, his last active year, appeared in 21 games and looked very sharp with an 11-3 record and a 3.28 ERA. Pettitte, who will turn 40 in June, was a three-time All-Star who waved farewell after the 2010 season. Pettitte, who said he wanted to spend more time with his family, certainly looked good enough that season to continue pitching and now he has signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees to see if he still can.

Caught up in baseball’s embarrassing drug-use cases, Pettitte admitted using human growth hormone earlier in his career. That is supposed to be out of his system, but pitching apparently wasn’t. Pettitte most assuredly could have stuck around for another year in 2011. but it’s more challenging to return to peak form after a year’s lay-off. Still,  if someone wants to give him the chance–and the Yankees were willing–Pettitte definitely has the right to try.

Can Andy Pettitte still pitch at a big-league level? Can Andy Pettittee stay healthy? Can Andy Pettitte win 10 games for the Yankees this summer? Don’t know. Neither does he, but he really wants to find out if his harm still packs power.

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