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Pettitte: “I just didn’t have the hunger”

Feb 4, 2011, 11:32 AM EDT

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Getty Images

I’ve been watching Andy Pettitte’s press conference.  It just ended a minute ago.  Some random things that struck me:

  • All of the conflicting reports we’ve heard over the past several months make a lot of sense given how much Pettitte says he wrestled over this.  He said that just two weeks ago he was ready to come back. And then he wasn’t.  He’s been all over the map, really.  At the risk of reading too much into this, it seems like his subconscious knew that he wasn’t going to play again, because he admitted he lacked the drive to rehab his groin and do the other kinds of offseason work he normally does.  He didn’t come to a conscious decision about it, however, until just recently.
  • Pettitte does not seem like a waffler. People will read too much into a random “you can never say never” comment he made, but he was emphatic about not pitching in 2011 certainly, and said that he’s done pitching.
  • He’s pretty clear-eyed about his career. He said he doesn’t consider himself a Hall of Famer. When asked about how he was able to pitch so well in the post season he said that if you look at the numbers he wasn’t really any different in the playoffs than he was during the regular season.  If anything that sells himself a bit short given the tougher competition in the postseason, but it does kind of harm the case of those who would claim that he was some sort of October clutch god.
  • He said the Roger Clemens trial had zero impact on his decision. This squares with what I’ve been hearing from a source I know close to Pettitte. And if you think about it, there’s even an argument that playing would have made the Clemens stuff less of a distraction. At least then he’d have something to do with himself rather than obsess about it. He could hide behind team spokesmen more easily.
  • He said that he spoke with a lot of people about whether he should go on. One of the people he spoke to was Tino Martinez, who told Pettitte that if he had any doubts, he shouldn’t play. Why? Martinez felt like he hung on for one season too long and seems to have regretted it.
  • He also said that Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies didn’t ultimately impact his decision, though there was an interesting note: he said that his offseason workouts began when Lee signed because he “felt an obligation” to the Yankees now that they were down a pitcher they had been assuming they’d get.  Ultimately, though, his lack of a desire to come back trumped this.

That last thing is probably the most interesting thing in all of this to me. I find his sense of team on that point to be fascinating and highly admirable. Indeed, in this whole press conference he has come off as just a swell dude, and I mean that sincerely.

Who knows what the future holds for Pettitte?  I don’t see him as a broadcaster. I could totally see him as a folksy pitching coach or something.  I don’t think he’s going to play baseball anymore, however. And that’s a good thing given that Andy Pettitte — more than most guys in his shoes — seems to have truly engaged the question of his desire and his ego and his drive to go on.

Good luck, Andy.

  1. fribnit - Feb 4, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    When asked if he thought he shoudl go inthe HOF he esentially said NO. I admire that honesty and clarity. I think he came across as a genuine and caring person that realized that his time to leave the game had come.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Feb 4, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    I honestly felt he would come back, and I guess he did too for a while. This is much the same as Moose did a couple of years ago after finally getting his elusive 20win season.
    Given his strength of character (as opposed to some other people who will remain unmentioned-Roger) it seems that this will be permanent.
    Best of luck to him in training his eldest to be a future “True Yankee”.

    P.S. What to do with the extra half hour sleep now that Mr. Fiddley-Fart is gone?

  3. Jonny 5 - Feb 4, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    This is why I like Andy Pettitte. You can just see he’s a good guy.

    • marshmallowsnake - Feb 4, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      and a cheater…

      • BC - Feb 4, 2011 at 12:48 PM

        At least he didn’t come back to get his 8-digit salary and be a relatively useless .500 pitcher like someone else we know.*
        (* Though if Pettitte does the mid-year thing, all my respect for him is gone.)

  4. nicosamuelson2 - Feb 4, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    A True Yankee would ALWAYS have the hunger.

  5. florida727 - Feb 4, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    marshmallowsnake – Feb 4, 2011 at 12:25 PM
    and a cheater…

    Snake, you’re an idiot. Okay, your life is miserable and you never have nor will accomplish anything on the level of an Andy Pettitte. Crawl back under your rock and stop punching buttons on a computer keyboard. BTW, learn the difference between “cheating” and “having made a mistake”.

    Pettitte is a class act, but does need to be corrected about one thing: as the 3rd winningest left-hander in Yankees history, and a postseason record like his, he does belong in the HOF. Thanks for the entertainment you provided to millions of baseball fans, Andy.

    Go Rays (sorry)!

    • ngearhart1981 - Feb 4, 2011 at 3:22 PM

      Whoa! Now explain why the 3rd winningest left-hander in Brewers or Angels history, or the 3rd most home run hittingest third baseman in Cardinals history don’t belong in the HOF. What a silly, trivial bit of stat.

  6. Brian Murphy - Feb 4, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    I can’t rightly quantity how much I respect that man.

    • Brian Murphy - Feb 4, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      quantify*

  7. mrznyc - Feb 5, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    If he thought there was a snowball’s chance in Hell that the Yanks could make it to another World Series and give him a shot at another ring, he’d be there in a heart beat.

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