Thursday, July 29, 2010

Honest Andy easier to forgive for HGH use

When I first heard about Andy Pettitte's use of human growth hormone, I didn't believe it. Knowing what a good Christian the New York Yankees lefty is, I had a hard time reconciling his faith with that kind of bad behavior. During his Centerstage Interview with Michael Kay, I finally got the answer: he lost his faith during that period of his life when he was suffering from major arm injuries.

"My Christian faith is not something I just dreamed up," Pettitte said. "I believe that God puts you in certain places at certain times in your life and I got away from thinking that God had me here in a certain place at a certain time."

Ever since his HGH admission, I have felt very conflicted about cheering for Pettitte, wanting him to do well for the Yankees and knowing that he is a good guy, but also knowing what he did was terribly wrong and frustrated by the lack of punishment for him and other users. But Pettitte's honesty about his use of performance-enhancing drugs makes it easier to forgive him and root for him, especially since he seems determined to make up for the wrong. He is genuinely bothered and still disappointed in himself for the bad example he set for kids.

“You can either make a heart mistake or a head mistake,” he said. "I know my heart was in the right place. I screwed up. I made a bad choice and I made the wrong decision."

Does this mean that I've changed my mind and would vote Pettitte into the Baseball Hall of Fame if I had a vote? Absolutely not. I'm a hardliner on this issue. By Pettitte's own admission, he knew he was doing something wrong and his behavior and that of other PED users cast a permanent pall over the sport I love. For that, there needs to be consequences. Since players who used PEDs before the new drug rules went into effect are not being suspended, keeping them out of the Hall is the only available, suitable punishment.

"I would imagine it would with some people," Pettitte said of his HGH use keeping him out of the Hall. “If you believe what I say … then I would think it probably wouldn’t be that big an issue. If you don’t believe me and you think I’m lying, than it’s probably a huge issue.”

I do believe Pettitte’s faith is genuine and I also believe that he is truly sorry for his HGH mistake. I still wouldn’t put him in the Hall of Fame, but I will have an easier time cheering for him at his next start.

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