Welcome Back, Old Friend
Today is finally the day that Andy Pettitte makes his long-awaited return to the Yankees. It’s been 19 months since he was last on the mound, and today all is back to normal as Andy toes the rubber on Mother’s Day against the Mariners.
Though Pettitte was more or less an average starter through most of his second go-around with the Yanks, his final season in 2010 proved to be one of his best ever. His 11-2 record and 2.70 ERA through the first half had many thinking he could not only win 20 games, but be in serious contention for the Cy Young.
A groin injury that sidelined him for two months ended those thoughts, but Pettitte would finish the season strong, throwing 7 innings of 2 run ball in each of his two postseason starts. When he retired prior to last season, there was no doubt he still could pitch.
And here he is now two years later, pushing 40 years old, and trying to prove just that.
A 240-game winner, Andy returns to the game already with Hall of Fame worthy credentials. 19 postseason wins, five World Series titles; but of course we all know he’s not in it for the stats. He’s in it to win, and for the love of the game. That’s what made Andy my favorite pitcher on the Yanks in his second go-around in New York.
I’m not saying his absence was the reason the Yanks didn’t go all the way in 2011, but it definitely had some impact. His veteran prescience rubbed off on everybody in the clubhouse. Just call him the second captain. He was always there to pick up his teammates, and the team as a whole whenever needed. He was the stopper, Old Reliable, Dandy Andy – you name it. He was the ideal veteran pitcher of all thirty MLB clubs.
Now I only saw him pitch once in person, but boy was it a great game – Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. That’s right. I and 50,000 others watched #46 deliver on three-days rest, stymieing a ferocious Phillies lineup that was trying to force a Game 7. I know Hideki Matsui did a hell of a lot to make sure that didn’t happen, but Andy did as well. He grinded out at-bat after at-bat, and really cemented his place in my book as my favorite pitcher I’ve ever seen.
Clearly, this is not a real analysis of Andy Pettitte here today. It’s more of a “welcome back” type of post. Andy Pettitte has, and always will be my favorite Yankee pitcher, and it means that much more to me that he’s back. I think we all can agree that today will be very special, and hopefully it’s one of many starts Andy will make in the future, once again being the heart and soul of the Yankees’ rotation.
So here’s to you Andy Pettitte, good luck the rest of the way in 2012!