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On Why Andy Pettitte is Still my Favorite Pitcher
Jay Sage
| December 16, 2007
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In the wake of former U.S. Senator George Mitchellís report on the use of steroids and other illegal drugs in the sport of baseball, a number of players have been cast in an extremely negative light. Roger Clemensí Hall of Fame candidacy, along with his seven Cy Young Awards and one AL MVP award, has been called into question. The legacy of Barry Bonds and his record 762 career home runs has been further tainted. Popular and respected players such as Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts and Phillies great Lenny Dykstra have suddenly had a shadow cast over their previously spotless reputations. However, one repentant man has emerged from the scandal as a figure of honesty and repentance. Andy Pettitte personally addressed the sports media yesterday and apologized for the error in judgment involved with him being an alleged performance enhancing drug user. According to Pettitte, he used human growth hormone for a matter of only two days in 2002 during a stint on the disabled list. Pettitte reports that he told Brian McNamee, the Yankees trainer who injected him, that he was incredibly uncomfortable with using the drug. Due to this, he stopped after the aforementioned two days and never used again. Iíll admit that, as a Yankees fan, I was both insulted and betrayed by the insinuation that my favorite pitcher had used performance enhancing drugs. But I, like a number of other Yankees fans, have chosen to forgive Pettitte in full for a number of reasons. For the sake of creating a nice list, Iíll list those reasons. 1. Pettitte technically did nothing against the rules of Major League Baseball. Pettitte used HGH back in 2002 and the drug has only been banned officially since 2005. 2. Pettitte did not use HGH to enhance is performance on the field, only to quicken his return to the Yankees from an elbow injury that had landed him on the disabled list. From the time that Pettitte returned from that stint on the DL, he has not used since. 3. Pettitte, unlike many of the pitchers on Mitchellís report, relies on his sharp curve ball and not a stinging fastball. Pettitte is just not one of those pitchers who depends upon a 100 mile per hour fastball and that leads me to believe that he had no reason to use HGH or steroids to enhance his pitching. 4. Pettitte only used HGH over a span of two days and he stopped. 5. Most importantly, Pettitte was quick to address the sports media with an apology. This last point is the most important because of the new image that Major League Baseball has earned, particularly among its young and impressionable fans. Pettitte came forth with a clear statement to fans that use of performance enhancing drugs in any situation is not only against the rules of baseball, but dangerous and morally wrong. Pettitteís explanation of his incredibly brief use of HGH was an explanation and not an excuse. Pettitteís actions are in start contrast to what we have seen from Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds who have been very aloof with the media since allegations were brought against them. Clemens has denied any use of performance enhancing drugs but did so through his lawyer, which does absolutely nothing to convince fans of his innocence. We have entered into a crucial era in Major League Baseball. To a great extent, the future of the sport will depend upon the reaction of the players involved in this controversy. If the remaining 84 players respond like Pettitte with genuine remorse, then they will be forgiven, no matter to what extent they used performance enhancers. If those same players instead react as Clemens has reacted, with a brief and shady report through a lawyer or agent, the public will never again be able to trust that player and they will go down in the annals of baseball history as nothing but a cheater. Over the next few months, each player (or his agent) will give a statement of some sort. Some will confess and beg forgiveness. Some will deny allegations into their graves. Some will fall somewhere in between. Honestly, I cannot hazard a guess as to which players will fall into which category. But for now, I forgive you Andy.
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