Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nova hopes to channel big-game Pettitte

Andy Pettitte was around Yankee Stadium last weekend to throw a ceremonial first pitch, reconnect with his old New York Yankees teammates and, most importantly, impart some wisdom on a youngster who is trying to channel him: Ivan Nova.

Pettitte was the epitome of a big-game pitcher, winning more playoff games than anyone in the history of baseball. More than that, he was a rock for the Yankees, stepping up when they needed him the most. He was never the ace of the Yankees staff, but he was the guy you wanted starting a game with everything on the line.

In that sense, Nova wants to be just like Pettitte. He wants his teammates to trust him with the ball the way they trusted Pettitte. If the Yankees seem extremely calm about tonight’s do-or-die game, it’s because they believe in Nova. Not as much as they believed in Pettitte because that came after years and years of big games, but they trust the youngster enough to feel confident about their chances of advancing to the next round of the playoffs.

Nova seems to be immune to pressure, a critical trait if he wants to be a big-game pitcher like Pettitte. And Nova is perfectly happy to soak up the advice of guys like Pettitte and AJ Burnett, who has been a mentor to the kid despite his own personal struggles.

If Nova can channel Pettitte tonight, he will earn the undying affection of his teammates and Yankees fans all over. Game on, kid!

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