Friday, February 4, 2011

Thanks For The Memories

His name sounds best when being chanted by fifty thousand plus fans.  Whether it be a warm summer night or a brisk fall night, having his name echo through the walls of the cathedral in the Bronx just seems right. And though it wont likely be the last time the walls of Yankee Stadium hear his name, it will no longer be on every fifth day.  Andy Pettitte has decided to put an end to his storied 16 year career.
Andy's contributions cannot be overstated.  he has built a career on the most sturdy foundation one can possibly use; consistency.  Every pitcher wishes they can be consistently effective but few succeed at it as well as Andy Pettitte.  He has five World Series rings and has been an allstar 3 times. His genuine "team first" attitude was possibly his best quality. If he was injured and unable to help the team win, it would truly upset him. He felt as though he wasn't doing his job.
Andy has had 13 memorable seasons in pinstripes. He was one of four players still on the team from the last Yankee dynasty. Since announcing his retirement, countless players have had much to say.  It has been an outpouring of respect (as well as relief from opponents) for a man with as much talent as he had love for his team.  Derek Jeter called him family and Jorge Posada called him one of his closest friends.  
It is easy to think about great pitching performances by Pettitte, he has had so many.  After all, when you are the the all time leader in Post Season wins, you are clearly doing something right.  Pettitte may or may not be a Hall of Famer but he is without question, one of the Yankee greats. So much so that he is just third on the Yankee all time wins list. 
Pettitte has achieved 20 wins in a season twice in his career winning 21 games both times, and is tied for second on the Post Season strikeouts list.  He has put together a stellar career and that includes the 3 year hiatus he took to play for the Houston Astros.   It is hard to describe just how much of an asset Andy was.
Joe Torre believes Pettittes ability and drive as an athlete were embodied in his 1996 World Series performance.  In an evening where the fearsome John Smoltz would blink only once, allowing just one run, Andy simply didn’t blink.  Pettitte shut down the usually loud Atlanta line up while giving up just 5 hits and 0 runs through 8 1/3 innings of work.  New York beat Atlanta 1-0 that night and would go on to win the next game in the Bronx to clinch their 23rd World Series Championship.  
Pettitte is a competitor, and even 13 years later, there was nobody else the Yankees wanted on the mound in a big game.  In 2009, Pettitte won all three clinching victories for the Yanks in the Post Season, earning the team its 27th World Series Championship and earning his fifth. 
Tino Martinez couldn't say enough about Pettitte when he learned of his retirement. One thing Tino said was "Since I’ve been retired, I’m always asked, ’Who would you have pitch a World Series Game 7?’ And I always say, ‘Andy Pettitte.’ When people ask why, I tell them it was because he was so prepared for every start. When the time comes for a big game, you want a guy who’s going to give you seven strong innings. And that’s what he did time and time again."
Pettitte was known as one of today's best big game pitchers. If there was a game that was must win, he rarely disappointed, and always pitched with intensity.  He has been an anchor for every team he has pitched for and has been a key factor in all 5 championship teams he has been on.  Without him, the Yankees most likely could not achieve their late 90's dynasty in which they won 4 World Series in 5 years. 
Andy sited heart as being the reason he is hanging it up. He said that his body is ready and feels great and he is ready to pitch, but his heart just isn’t in it.  He told his wife 2 weeks ago that he was going to pitch for the 2011 season, but said when he thought about packing his bags, it just didn’t seem right.  Pettitte is not the type of person to do something he isn’t putting his all into.  I personally would rather have 50% of Andy Pettitte than 100% of any other pitcher, but that is simply unacceptable to Andy. 
Yes, there are plenty of things a Yankee fan can say about Andy Pettitte. However today, on the day that he has officially decided to retire, there is only one thing to say to Andy Pettitte.  Thanks for the memories.  

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