The news that New York Yankees fans were dreading all winter will finally come tomorrow, when Andy Pettitte officially puts an end to one of the great pitching careers in team history.
I had the faintest hope that Pettitte would see how dire things would be for the Yankees without him and give them one more season, even if it meant not seeing him in uniform until June. But deep down I think I could tell that this was the end, that what Pettitte wanted more than anything was to go home to his family and Texas for good.
The saddest part of this is that we never really got a chance to say goodbye. Unlike in 2009 when Andy won the game clinching the Yankees' World Series title, the Yankees were sent home for the winter in Texas in 2010 short of their goal. We never had the opportunity to cheer Andy off the mound after another great playoff start ahead of what will hopefully be a joyful retirement for him. Instead, we will have to settle for a press conference that the Yankees probably had to insist on having for him rather than giving him the standing ovation he deserves.
I’m happy to honor what was a remarkable career in pinstripes, which really got started when the then 24-year-old rocked the Yankee universe by winning 21 games in 1996 and began his playoff heroics with a thrilling 1-0 victory against the great John Smoltz that put the Yankees on the brink of their first World Series title in 18 years. For me, there’s a little sadness mixed in knowing that if Pettitte hadn’t succumbed to the temptation of human growth hormone we could be talking about him having a real shot at the Baseball Hall of Fame. But most Yankee fans will only remember his 19 postseason victories, including the six that clinched series wins and established him as the ultimate big-game pitcher.
So the Core Four now becomes the Core Three and the Yankees are a little less than they were before.
Farewell, Andy. We'll miss you.