When Andy Pettitte announced his retirement on Thursday, it occasioned about the response you’d expect. Yankee fan types will effuse over his ineffable Yankees-ian class and mettle and whatever, national columnists praised his drive, Sabermetric types reminded everyone that he doesn’t really have a Hall of Fame case, and everyone else speculated about whether or not the 38-year-old 203-game winner and anti-masturbation activist was really (um) finished.
At his blog, Tim Marchman doesn’t exactly advocate for Pettitte as a Hall of Famer — “The only reason anyone thinks he is one is because of the blind moral squalor of the population of New York City,” Marchman writes. “Which has convinced itself that it lives in a finer place than any other, much as any number of Turkmen were doubtless convinced in 1985 that they lived in the grandest and most technologically advanced of all democratic empires.” Which I guess is pretty resounding. But Marchman does make something like the case-for-the-case-for-Andy-Pettitte, which is interesting:
The sound criticisms of Pettitte are that he was no better than Billy Pierce, who is remembered by nearly no one outside of Chicago; that as nice a career as he had there were only two or three seasons where he was ever much more than serviceable, and that even in those he was guilty of the hideous crime of lending his slightly wall eyed visage to the manufacturers of Power for Living, a creepy Christian pamphlet masquerading as a ‘self-help’ book that was advertised on every other inch of the New York subway system for a period of years. His unsettling and apparently drug fueled friendship with Roger Clemens also serves as something of an antitangible. Still I would hope that saberists don’t treat that part of the public that recognizes his 260 or so playoff innings were of great consequence and surprisingly close to being enough to make the difference between a fondly remembered dude and a barrel scraping Hall of Famer as some great unlettered mass and fit subject for derision.
Pettitte’s career will be survived by the creepy picture Marchman discusses, which will (and with good reason) almost certainly be used on every Pettitte-related post at CSTB until the sun goes out.