Friday, February 4, 2011

Andy Pettitte wears heart on his sleeve

Andy Pettitte always wore his heart on his sleeve. That's one of the things New York Yankees fans loved most about him. But in the end, his heart just wasn't into baseball anymore.

“In my heart of hearts, I was done,” Pettitte said.

There’s no question it was a tough decision for Andy, probably one of the hardest calls of his life, to walk away knowing that the Yankees badly needed him to anchor the pitching staff. If he had returned after Cliff Lee rejected the Yankees, he would have been practically canonized in New York. Instead, Pettitte walked away from his team and the chance for one last fat paycheck to go home to Deer Park, Texas for good.

“Mentally, I was just going to make myself do it,” he said. “I felt like the Yankees needed me and I didn’t want to let everyone down. (But) I wasn’t going to be 100% in and if I’m not 100% in, I just felt like I shouldn’t do it.”

Today was an emotional day for the Yankee family. Pettitte's nerves were obviously shot, both by his agonizing decision to call it quits as well as having to explain it to the assembled media at Yankee Stadium. But it brought tears to my eyes watching Pettitte at the podium knowing that I won’t be seeing him on that pitching mound again. I’m sure I wasn't the only fan tearing up.

Boy, did the Yankee crowds love him, mostly because of his ability to step up and fight like hell to win games. It felt like Andy was on the mound starting every big victory in the playoffs for the last 15 years and the fact that he was so reliable endeared him to the Yankee faithful.

“You have to enjoy those moments out there to be successful in them,” Pettitte said. “I enjoy that even though it was a little uncomfortable for me. You enjoy that, when the crowd’s getting into it and cheering. But I didn’t feel like I needed that in my life.”

Since his heart wasn't in it anymore, it was the right decision to walk away, no matter how much the Yankees and their fans needed him. Pettitte made the decision with his heart, which is what he was always all about.

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