World Series, Game 6: In Andy We Trust
The great thing about the postseason, and the World Series in particular, is that redemption is always just around the corner.
Alex Rodriguez knows all about that. He entered last month as a playoff pariah—his October failures as big a part of his identity as his three MVP awards.
It took just 14 games (and 18 RBI) to change all that.
Playoff baseball is convenient like that: It's a one-stop shop for re-shaping your legacy.
Andy Pettitte doesn't have nearly the same amount of October baggage as Rodriguez. On the surface, they would appear to be polar opposites. The left-hander will make his 40th career playoff start tonight, the most ever. He is baseball's all-time winningest postseason pitcher.
But that doesn't mean he's not after his own redemption.
Pettitte has been in this same exact position before. It was eight years ago yesterday that the then 29-year-old left-hander took the mound in a Game Six of the World Series.
It was a game that would go down as among the worst of Pettitte's career.
Amid speculation that he was unknowingly tipping his pitches to Arizona hitters, Pettitte surrendered six runs on seven hits in just two innings of work. With Randy Johnson on the mound for the D-backs, Pettitte never game his team a chance.
The Yankees lost, 15-2, and went on to lose the next night as well. In the time since, it has remained the closest the Yankees have come to a championship—until now.
Being the intense competitor that Pettitte is, you know that game still sticks with him. It is the one blemish on an otherwise sterling playoff resumé.
Joe Girardi knows how badly Pettitte wants to wash the taste of that loss out of his mouth. The Yankees manager was Pettitte's teammate when the left-hander rose to prominence with the team in 1996. He knows that one less day of rest isn't going to sidetrack Pettitte's singular focus to bring home the Yankees' 27th championship.
He trusts Pettitte in a way that he will never trust A.J. Burnett. He may trust Pettitte as much as the 39-year-old reliever he hopes will follow Pettitte to close out the series tonight in the Bronx.
If you follow a player long enough, you learn what it is that makes them tick. What drives them to succeed. What causes them to fail. You can read their body language as they warm up in the bullpen, pick up a look in their eye as they stalk to the plate for a key at-bat.
As crazy as it sounds, you begin to know how they'll perform before they do.
If you've followed Andy Pettitte long enough, you like his chances of finding redemption tonight.
And that will call for a parade.
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