Andy Pettitte is one of my favorite athletes of all time.
I was truly saddened to hear that he was retiring—saddened by the fact that I will never get a chance to see him pitch again, and saddened by the fact that a 350-pound Hispanic gorilla now has a significant chance at gaining a spot in the Yankees rotation.
A question that I keep hearing is, “Does he deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?”
To me, this one really is a no-brainer.
Pettitte does NOT deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, and it really shouldn’t be that much of a discussion. Pettitte had a very nice, long career. He was a good pitcher for a very long time on some great teams.
I don’t have a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Shocking, I know.
But to me, the two main criteria that a Hall of Famer should meet:
- A dominant player for an extended period of time (at least six years).
- At one point or another, was in the discussion for “best player at his position” (although there are exceptions to this one).
Notice that I didn’t include something along the lines of “won a championship.” Here’s why (this might shock and offend some): championships are won by TEAMS. Let that soak in for a minute.
Winning championships is always the ultimate goal in sports. Every team is ultimately evaluated by the amount of championships they win, and that’s the way it should be. But how is it fair to judge a player based on the performance of 24 other guys?
Postseason performance should absolutely be a factor, and Andy Pettitte certainly was a great postseason performer. But I really am sick of hearing “five-time champion” as part of his “Hall of Fame credentials.”
Andy Pettitte is not a heavyweight boxer. He did not go out and knock somebody out in a pay-per-view classic. Was he an integral part of the championship teams? Absolutely.
But the key words there are “part” and “team.” The Hall of Fame inducts players as individuals, and Pettitte should not be rewarded for being on a great team when being evaluated as a candidate.
As far as the criteria I do have listed, does Pettitte meet either of them?
“A dominant player for an extended period of time.” Pettitte had a couple of great seasons, but he finished in the top three of Cy Young voting just once. For the most part, Pettitte’s ERA hovered in the high three to low four range, hardly what I’d call dominant.
“At one point or another, was in the discussion for 'best player at his position?’” At no point in his career was Pettitte anywhere near this discussion, and if you think otherwise you are sadly mistaken.
As for there being an exception to this rule—if there is a truly dominant player that will always be the best at his position, then the other players at that position obviously won’t be in the discussion for “best at his position” because there simply is no discussion, i.e Ken Griffey Jr. in the '90s and Albert Pujols right now.
For the record, saying a player doesn’t deserve to make the Hall of Fame is not a criticism. Andy Pettitte had a great career as a durable and very reliable pitcher. He pitched 200 innings in 10 out of 16 seasons, a truly impressive feat in the age of the glass-armed pitcher.
But when I think Hall of Famer, I think Albert Pujols. I think Randy Johnson. I think Ken Griffey Jr. I think Kaz Matsui.
If someone were to ask you if one of these guys deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, would you even hesitate to say yes?
Another thing I’ve heard and read is, “Well, if Bert Blyleven got in, Pettitte should definitely get in!” There are so many things that are wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to begin, but I have to begin somewhere so here it is.
I hate that players such as Bert Blyleven and Andre Dawson are in the Hall of Fame.
Nothing against them personally, they were both very good players at one point or another. But a player should not be inducted just because he stuck around for long enough to compile big career numbers.
Next, can I just point out how insanely idiotic the philosophy of, “Well, we made a mistake with this guy, so let’s reward somebody else for making that mistake and giving him something he clearly doesn’t deserve!”
Bert Blyleven has no business being in the Hall of Fame. The voters royally screwed that one up. Andy Pettitte is certainly less unqualified (wow that sounds dumb) than Bert Blyleven. But this simply does not equate to Andy Pettitte being a Hall of Famer.
If Pettitte were to be elected on this premise, I guess you’d simply have to make a “Law of Bert” for the Hall of Fame. “Is he better than Bert? He is? He’s got my vote.”
Just to beat a dead horse even more, and God knows how fun it is to beat a dead horse, let's relate this to something outside of sports—and if you’ve ever read any of my other dry-humor laced (the type of dry-humor that makes you ask yourself, “is he kidding or does he have some form of aspergers?”) articles, you know I love doing that.
Let’s say a guy kills his wife. It’s blatantly obvious to everyone that he did it. However, when he gets to court, there is slightly less evidence against him than there was against OJ Simpson when he (allegedly) murdered his wife. Would it be okay to rule this guy innocent?
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “How long before this jackass acknowledges that he was kidding about Kaz Matsui?” Well, there ya go.
But more importantly, you’re probably thinking, “Did you really just compare the Hall of Fame induction process to a hypothetical homicide trial?” Trust me, it made sense when I first thought of it.