Andy Pettitte Retires: What It Means for the Yankees and Baseball

Tomer TalmyCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2011

Pettitte pitching int the 2009 Word Series.
Pettitte pitching int the 2009 Word Series.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

While it's tough to say nobody expected it, Andy Pettitte's decision to retire has stricken Yankee fans around the globe with thoughts about the great man and pitcher they will no longer see taking the mound for their beloved team.

Pettitte's decision raises a bevy of question marks, which include both the fate of the 2011 Yankees along with the legacy left behind by No. 46. While it's tough to answer these questions at this point, the answers will slowly settle as time moves along.

But for the next few days, all we should be talking about is what Andy Pettitte meant for the New York Yankees over the past 15 years.

The ultimate accomplishment for any player wearing the pinstripes is a World Series title, and Andy has five of them. Clichés are something that always comes up when talking about the Yankees, but one cliché that will always be true is that only one thing matters in the Bronx: winning.  

The one thing Andy knew well was winning. Andy amassed an impressive 240 wins in the regular season and an additional 19 in the postseason. Andy was never the premier starter on a championship team with the exception of 1996, a year in which he finished second in the Cy Young voting.

Pettitte was always consistent, and while he was never a dominating force on the mound, he always found a way to win, especially under the bright lights of October. 

It seemed like every time the Yankees were down in a series, Pettitte stepped up and gave them a big performance to get back in the series. Statistics might not testify to the greatness of Pettitte, whose presence alone served as a calming yet confident influence on the Yankees. 

Despite a short three-year stint with the Astros, Pettitte was always a true Yankee who was the epitome of the Yankee brand: a cool, blue-collar winner.

There was never a time where Yankee fans doubted Pettitte's ability in the clutch. The sight of Andy staring down a batter, with his black glove covering everything but his eyes, is one of the more memorable visions of the great Yankee teams of the '90s.

However, it is difficult to justify how great Pettitte was with statistics and cemented facts. He was one of the five most essential players in the Yankees run in the late '90s and was also a key contributor to their latest title in 2009.

Will Andy ever get the call from Cooperstown? It is tough to measure his status at this point because as the game changes, the Hall of Fame standards change as well. In a day of pitch counts and inning limitations, reaching 300 wins is a nearly impossible feat.

Andy Pettitte also played in the steroids era and has also admitted to using human growth hormone for a short period during his career. So far, the results have proven that players such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro don't stand much of a chance despite their great statistical accomplishments.

Even ignoring the fact that Andy used performance-enhancing drugs, he still falls short of the standard set thus far for pitcher. His winning percentage is a solid .635, but is he really worthy of the Hall?

All we can do is wait and see what this means to the 2011 Yankees, who currently have many questions at the back of their rotation. One thing is certain, though: Andy will go down as a winner and a beloved New York Yankee.

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