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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Roger Clemens is not the reason Andy Pettitte may retire

I saw there was some whole to-do over Brian Cashman saying that it looked like "right now," Andy Pettitte is "still saying, 'Don't count on me'" for next season.  Oh, great.

The Yankees GM also said, that "Andy's been very communicative [with me] on this issue. Right now, he's not playing. If he decides to play, it will be for us. He's a Yankee, from start to finish." (Well, other than that whole "going to Houston for three seasons" thing, but I digress!)

Cashman told reporters, "I don't think he's determined whether he's officially finished, but is choosing at this stage to not start 2011" and that "I'm certainly not going to hound him or bother him." Hmmmm. Did the Yankees "hound" or "bother" CC Sabathia when they opened up the Brinks' truck for him? How about when -- shudder -- Cashman got Roger Clemens back in George Steinbrenner's box to pitch for the team in 2007? Goodness gracious!

At any rate, there's been some speculation in the media as to why Pettitte hasn't re-signed with the Yankees. Bob Klapisch and Wally Matthews are hooked on the idea that Clemens himself -- or, more to the point, the Clemens federal trial set for next summer -- has something to do with it. Matthews wrote:
"...you know Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, is going after Pettitte in the only areas he can in order to discredit his testimony. He is going to do his level best to crush Pettitte's reputation for honesty and sincerity and religious convictions. Simply put, he is likely to try to paint Pettitte as a lying hypocrite whose word cannot and should not be trusted.

The cross-examination could get embarrassing and highly personal.

And in a situation like that, pitching for the New York Yankees every five days and facing a ravenous media horde on a daily basis is not exactly where anyone in his or her right mind would want to be."
Klapisch had similar sentiments (an aside: what do these reporters know -- or think they know -- that makes them say Clemens will expose Pettitte in some personal way?):
"Therein lies his defense strategy: for Clemens to prevail, he’ll have to destroy Pettitte’s credibility. One person who’s known the left-hander for many years said: 'You think that’s not weighing on Andy’s mind? Who knows what Clemens is going to dig up?'


Indeed, the dual burden of facing Clemens in court and then taking the mound in the Bronx might be too much for Pettitte. After 16 years, he might be thinking there’s no reason to fight two wars, not this late in his career, not at this point in his life."
A few points:

* The idea that Clemens will actually go on trial in July is laughable. Barry Bonds was indicted on federal perjury charges in 2007 and hasn't yet faced a trial (one is scheduled for this March, but there's all sorts of legal wrangling going on right now about the evidence.). I found this story online talking about the "eve" of the upcoming Bonds trial -- written in March 2009!

The wheels of justice move very slowly, especially in federal court, where years can go by between indictment and trial date. Clemens was only indicted last August 30. Bonds' lawyers have been very aggressive -- and sometimes very successful -- in challenging the evidence against him. Why wouldn't Clemens' legal team do the same thing, and drag this ordeal out for as long as possible?

* I think both these sportswriters have been watching too many reruns of the Frankie Pentangeli Congressional committee scene in 'Godfather II" or something. Because Roger Clemens isn't going to be able to haul in Andy Pettitte's brother (or an equivalent) to get Pettitte to shut up. And it's not very realistic to think that Clemens is going to somehow drag Andy down to his level and discredit him. You don't get to throw out rumors and innuendo willy-nilly in a federal court situation. Besides, Pettitte is pretty much Teflon, as his still great reputation besides admitting to PED use shows. Unless Clemens has evidence that Andy was running a dogfighting ring, I don't see anything the Rocket's lawyers saying as hurting Pettitte's rep.

* As for the "ravenous media horde' Matthews thinks will harangue Pettitte, I have to laugh over that, given that I'm still waiting for one of the tough media guys to 1) explain how A.J. Burnett got that black eye, and 2) tell us exactly why Dave Eiland lost his job with the Yankees, and what his leave of absence from the team was all about. All Pettitte would have to say is that he's not allowed to talk about the trial, and most media types will leave it at that.  If anything, still being part of the Yankees would give Pettitte more protection, not less, from the media inquiries.

At any rate, retirement isn't some silver bullet that will somehow prevent Pettitte from having to testify. And I really don't see that this trial -- if it happens at all this year -- is what's keeping Pettitte from returning to the Yankee fold. I would put Andy's lack of interest in returning on two things: he really does want to spend more time with his family, and Cashman hasn't made him a good-enough offer to convince him to come back. No need for wacky Clemens conspiracy theories here.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

1 comment:

Chuck40 said...

Lisa - I think that Andy is going back to my hometown Houston Astros one more time. Their pitching is so bad that he would be their #1 starter! From your former boss.