Andy Pettitte: Still a Modern Day Hero

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Andy Pettitte: Still a Modern Day Hero

http://images.usatoday.com/sports/_photos/2007/05/20/pettitte.jpgAs a reliable left-handed pitcher, Andy Pettitte is automatically the type of player coveted by every team in the Major Leagues. 

What sets him apart from other southpaws, and any other player for that matter, is his not his arm. It's his character. 

Andy Pettitte was one of the "big names" accused of using performance enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report.  Even if these allegations prove to be true, Pettitte's legacy as a person, as a quiet leader, and as a clutch performer will remain in the hearts of baseball fans forever.

One year ago, at age 34, Andy Pettitte was considering retirement.  Not because he felt that he could no longer perform at a major league level, but because he felt that he should spend more time with his family. 

After the 2007 season, now 35, he was faced with a similar dilemma — hang up the cleats and enjoy more family picnics in Texas, or take one more shot at the World Series in the Bronx? 

He's 35 years old.  Most lefties that age are so focused on their next five-year contract that they can't even remember the date of their daughter's Christmas play. 

Not so for Pettitte.

2008 will likely be his last season as a major league pitcher, because even though he has the skill to pitch well into his forties, he also has the priorities that 99% of non-athletes share. 

Family first. 

He'll take his millions of dollars next year and provide for his family for the rest of his life. 

He's coming back to the Yankees because it wouldn't be "honorable" for him to pitch elsewhere. 

Honorable

This term is foreign to most baseball players these days.  The Yankees are giving Pettitte millions next year. But so many other players would skip town if another team offered even one dollar more.

In 2007, Pettitte was the workhorse in a Yankee staff that was plagued with injuries.  He quietly lead the rotation and stayed healthy while the rest of the team worked through a tough year.  He provided the only quality start of the postseason, a performance that is considered by many to be one of the grittiest in the modern era.

The Mitchell Report names Andy Pettitte as a cheater. 

Whether he took performance enhancing drugs or not is irrelevant.  He remains a class act on, and especially off, the field. One hundred years from now, we will all remember Andy Pettitte as a terrific person, a great husband and father, and also as a great pitcher. 

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