Why Do We Believe Andy Pettitte?

Honestly, I have no idea.

What would you do if you were Andy Pettitte?  You just signed a major contract to come back for one more year before retiring as one of the most successful pitchers of your generation.  But, all of a sudden you are accused (with factual evidence) by a former U.S. Senator of a crime that has been proven time and time again to blatantly not fall under the pretense of “innocent until proven guilty.” 

(If you don’t believe this, ask yourself what proof you have on Brady Anderson.  The answer is “none,” but I have yet to meet anyone that does not believe, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he was a juicer, including Yours Truly).

So, now you have two options:  (1) deny, deny, deny, or (2) admit it.  If you take option one, you get mercilessly ridiculed and vilified because no one believes you no matter how airtight you think your denial is (see:  Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire…).  For some reason, players do still decide to take this route (Roger Clemens), but it does not seem the smartest way anymore.  So, you are probably relegated to going with option 2–to admit that you did it. 

If you are going to do that, though, are you really come out and say:  “Oh ya, I took that stuff.  I heard that it would make me bigger, faster and stronger, and I really wanted to be bigger, faster and stronger than everyone else in the game.  I got my dentist to prescribe me HGH; I got my kid’s pediatrician to sneak me some flaxseed oil; and, I got my veterinarian to authorize a 24-month supply of anabolic steroids designed for a 1500-pound steer.”  No, probably not–at least if you have any concern for your reputation or legacy. 

So, you come up with a believable story depicting yourself as the “gladiator” that defines today’s athlete, and how you were heroically injured in the field of battle.  Then, unlike most narcissistic modern athletes, you felt that you “owed it to your teammates and fans” to come back quickly.  You found a way to recover quicker, but you did not do anything to enhance your performance.  You may have made a questionable decision, but if so, it was with nothing but genuine motives.  And, you only did it twice in 13  years of major league baseball.  Who could be mad at that?  Hasn’t everyone made mistakes?  You should be praised, not admonished; admired, not comdemned.   To top it off, you throw in a couple lines like: 

  • If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication. I have tried to do things the right way my entire life, and, again, ask that you put those two days in the proper context.”
  • And, “I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable. I wasn’t looking for an edge; I was looking to heal.”

Now, the only thing lacking may be credibility, so you get a highly-respected buddy of yours, like Mariano Rivera, to back you up.

Case closed.  Who wouldn’t have done what you did?

The strange thing is that I do actually like and respect Andy Pettitte.  I believed him when he came out and said what he said.  I despised Clemens for what he did–sending a denial through a lawyer–but Pettitte seemed to handle his own situation with a sense of class.  Was he merely the victim of the crooked, no-holds-barred culture of today’s professional sports?  Is the pressure that we place upon our athletes to perform as heroes at the highest levels the real culprit in this whole ordeal?  What self-respecting human being would not try and use anything possible to gratify the millions of “regular people” who live and die by your performance on a daily basis?  What responsible employee wouldn’t do anything in their power to justify an exorbitant salary simply for playing a child’s game?  Who are the real victims here?

The elicitation of these naturally-human responses and emotions are precisely why Pettitte’s comments on Saturday were ingenious.  The phrases he used and the concepts he evoked are disarming, even admirable.  He called accusations of performance-enhancing drug use “nonsense, wrong and hurtful” and said that it was “embarrassing for his name to be out there.”  His comments took the dastardly act of steroid use and effectively cloaked it in a veil of human imperfection, with even a touch of grace and dignity. I set out to write this column as a questioning of myself and why I believed Andy Pettitte–because I did.  I did not question his sincerity one bit until my fiancee called me a fool for not doing so.  I was taken aback.  “But, everything he said makes sense.  What he did is really not that bad,” I reasoned. 

“And, you believe it?” Ina asked, with her fine-tuned air of rhetoric.

“Uh, well…ya, I think so.”

But, she is right.  The “Steroid Era” is in full swing all across sports.  The “spins” on positive tests are getting more and more refined as each person gets caught.  Ben Johnson was first–his response was primitive.  We have progressed through Mark McGwire’s andro “it wasn’t illegal at the time” defense to the awfulness that was Jason Giambi and his tearful “I can’t say for what, but I’m really, really sorry” debacle.  Floyd Landis tried every spin in the book, hoping one would stick.  Marion Jones succeeded for 7 years in her denials and spin stories, until recently being stripped of her Olympic medals.  And now we have Andy Pettitte and the best, most refined, most evolved, most believable spin story yet.

I don’t blame Andy Pettitte for saying what he said.  I am not even willing to say that I am absolutely certain that he isn’t being 100% truthful.  In fact, I still want to believe him because he has never been anything but classy and professional.  However, what I am saying is that the Steroid Era is still in its relative infancy, and these stories are just going to get better and better as we go.  Let us just hope that the proverbial (and grossly overused term) “Court of Public Opinion” is able to adapt and keep up with the ever-improving spinsters that surround the users.  Let us not forget that knowingly having someone inject your rear-end with a performance-enhancing, illegally-acquired substance is NOT an admirable act, no matter who you are or how justified you perceive your reasons for doing so to be.

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17 Responses to Why Do We Believe Andy Pettitte?

  1. Sikdar says:

    See, here’s my thing. I didnt get the opportunity to comment last week with the Mitchell Madness breaking all over the place, but I really believe that this is a media-driven firestorm and that if push came to shove, fans would admit they dont really care that much. They certainly dont care at all in the NFL, where 11 members of the Panthers get busted or Merriman gets busted and still wins the MVP. With baseball, and again, I think you guys touched on this last week, this all isnt a warning not to do steroids, and it isnt even a warning not to lie to the grand jury. Its all about Bonds, and thats means quite simply it is a cautionary tale for all people not to act like assholes. Bonds was a sure fire first ballot hall of famer who treated everyone – the fans, the media, his teammates – like dirt every day. Then he started breaking cherished records and wonders why everyone rushes to tear his ass down. Someone like Clemens was always a “good guy”, even when he hosed over franchises and insulted former cities he played in and only played half seasons and all that – he was a warrior and someone that the sport celebrated. A role model. In spite of the fact that there have been whispers about how different he looks from back in 86 and whispers about how steroids would help pitchers far more then they would help hitters based on their ability to recover more quickly in-between starts. Steroids cant help you hit a baseball, as displayed by the luminary names like FP Santangelo, Tim Laker and Marvin Bernard that got busted. Big picture, for all the hemming and hawing and wringing of hands throughout the media, no one will ever know who did what, how often. Everyone could be on something, and with the amount of money at stake, hell, it’s their bodies, no one would even really blame them. So you assume everyone is basically guilty and that’s that. Those that say it is unfair to the earlier eras of Aaron and Mays, those generations popped Greenies, aka now illegal speed, like tic-tacs to keep going. I think while people wish and hope it was all straight up and above board, people would rather not stress about that shit and enjoy the games. My evidence that in the grand scheme, people dont really care is the fact that across baseball ratings are up, ticket sales are up, even merchandising is up. No one is boycotting games, thats for sure. So whether it is Giambi’s non-admission admission (which totally lessened the furor from fans and the media about him), or Pettitte’s “One time at Band Camp”, bottom line is if Johan got traded tonight the whole thing would be out of sight, out of mind for most fans. In spite of the best efforts of ESPN and the rest of the media to cause a gigantic stink. Once pitchers and catchers report business will be on as usual and if this year is any indication, business will be booming and we will all be there, wallets open, to see it.

    By the way, horseshit that the report ignores how Fuckin Big Papi goes from being cut to being the best hitter in baseball, thats what you get when you get a Red Sox exec doing the damn report. Fuckin cheating ass Boston sports. Ok, I’m finished.

  2. Brian says:

    I hate you Cimorelli.

  3. bry says:

    Ian, I agree with you that baseball fans will keep going to the games and buying the jerseys and such, but to say that they don’t care, I think is wrong. How much marketing have Bonds and Sosa lost? Why isn’t McGwire in the hall of fame (granted not the fans, but still)? Why was Roger Clemens’ invitation to speak at the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association revoked yesterday? People do care.

    Also, I think it’s ironic that you “don’t care” when it’s Pettitte, but are really annoyed that Ortiz wasn’t mentioned. Which is it: do you care or don’t you care?

    ps…you’re the best, Roselle

  4. boot says:

    I side the aforementioned fiancee in thinking Bry’s a fool for believing Petite. He’s not sorry he did it – if he was, it would have been eating him up inside and he would have come out with it. He’s sorry he got caught. And he didn’t do it for anything as noble as “gee, all the fans really wanted me to come back sooner”.

    And the argument that steroids, HGH, etc. don’t help is all but self-defeating. If they didn’t help, why would people take them, for the acne? No, they don’t you hit a baseball, or even help you hit it further, but they do help you recover faster, and the a 162-game season is a grind.

    And I care, both as a baseball fan and as a professional. I’m in a profession where I’m evaluated against my peers in terms of productivity and we have rules governing what is and is not acceptable. In writing, we have rules against plagiarizing another person’s work and faking results. We would not excuse someone who says “I’m sorry if I misled someone. I only did it so my employees would know that I was trying to ensure our success.”

    p.s. Does anyone else think the esteemed Broad Street Believers should change the font on the website?

  5. Pingback: Why Do We Believe Andy Pettitte? | The Steroids Resource

  6. bry says:

    Thanks, Boot, that’s another major point that I meant to incorporate in the column. Say you’re Andy Pettitte, right? Let’s just say that, for the sake of argument, that you did only take it for 2 days, just to recover from an injury. Fast forward to 5 years later. It’s certainly no secret that baseball has invested $50 million to uncover just who did the stuff and who didn’t. So, would you (Andy Pettitte), as a rational, “innocent” human being simply wait and see if your name was in the report? Or, would you, if your story is true, as soon as baseball became serious about the past, come out and admit to the “2-day” usage? If the story is true, why did Pettitte wait until after the Mitchell Report came out to say he did it? If he’s so “sorry” about what he did, why didn’t he apologize before his name was thrown to the wolves? It just doesn’t make sense…

    And, I care too. Do you know why? Because…

    “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again, but baseball is a mark of the times. This field, this game, it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.”

    That is why I care. At 28 years old, I still believe in the magic

  7. Doogan says:

    Ian, I can see what you’re saying, in part, with the media making this story bigger. My problem with the Mitchell Report coverage is that the players that are named on it must be a small percentage of the actual number of players that were using steroids, right? I think it was this huge, wide-spread problem and we will never know which players were juicing and which ones weren’t. I think that’s the past and people should just keep in mind that steroids were rampant for that 10-year period in baseball history. BUT, I definitely care about keeping steroids and HGH out of baseball, and the league really needs to do everything it can to stop it.

    As for Pettitte, I had a couple major problems with his statement. How about this line: “If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize.” What? IF what you did was an error judgment? So, he’s not even admitting that he made an error in judgment, and he’s not even really apologizing. And he does it again: “…I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication.” PERHAPS bad judgment? I realize that there are probably some legal considerations for wording it like this, but it still leaves a bad taste in your mouth. That would be like if a husband went to his wife and said, “If me sleeping with that other woman was wrong, I’m sorry”. If Pettitte had just come out, like Fernando Vina did today, and said something like, “I screwed up, I made a mistake, and I apologize”, I would’ve had sympathy for the guy. I sympathize with a guy seeing his baseball career maybe slipping away from him and deciding to do whatever it takes to stay in the game. I don’t condone it or agree with it, but I sympathize. And I, for one, am willing to forgive a player that comes out and says that he’s sorry about it. Andy Pettitte hasn’t done that, in my opinion.

  8. Doogan says:

    And as for the font, I’ve tried but I can’t figure out how to change it. Anyone with WordPress experience who can help out with that would be appreciated.

  9. Ian says:

    No I was kidding about the Ortiz thing, that was fake annoyance about the fact it was a Red Sox exec running the report. The one who gave all the info was a pharmacist on Long Island, it stands to reason NY teams would be more likely to be implicated. There are probably dozens of distributors in every region, if not one or two in every big league town. Whatever the guys name was, he got caught by the Feds at the same time Mitchell was investigating. Hence, the report was gonna be heavy on Yanks, Mets, O’s, etc. I want the game to be clean, but clearly that still isnt going to ever fully be.

    The only guy I REALLY wanted to see on the report was fuckin Cal Ripken Jr. Iron Man my ass. Thats the roids.

  10. bry says:

    The wisest thing said so far on this blog, Ian. Though, I have (and Doogan probably as well) tried really hard to keep that piece of sh*& out of the blog because I cannot really speak objectively, professionally or rationally about the atrocity that is that record.

    Quick, funny story about that (it’s long and pointless, so you might not want to read it–I won’t be offended). As most of you know, I now live, work and go to school in Baltimore. Well, last night I was taking a final exam. The professor for this course is pretty young and a big-time Redskins fan. This is the second course I’ve had with him and we have a lot of banter about the NFC East (oftentimes during class), and I’ve even written things about the Eagles on exams before. He gets a kick out of it (at least I think so, since I’ve gotten As in both the classes I’ve had with him). Anyway, his exams are littered with subtle sports references like questions about Campbell County (for Jason Campbell) and Cooleyville, etc. Anyway, one of the questions on this exam was talking about a policy for Baltimore City and whether or not the policy was worth implementing. The question read something like this: “Tomorrow you have to present the material to Mayor Ripken, what are you going to do?” I wrote “hit him in the face and walk out because he is the most selfish player in the history of team sports.” If I had had any balls, I would have left that as the complete answer, but the question was worth 20 points, so I went on and actually answered it. I hope he’s not an Orioles fan…actually, I hope he IS an Orioles fan.

    Sorry for the aside.

  11. Ian says:

    “Present the material to Mayor Ripken, what are you going to do?” Um not be suprised when his selfish cheating ass takes all the credit for himself, hogs the spotlight and then hits under .200 in the playoffs…thats a GREAT story, Cim. =)

  12. boot says:

    We need to have a separate Ripken post/discussion.

  13. Dev says:

    Dude, you don’t know shit about Floyd Landis….so until you do some research, shut the fuck up. Jesus, didn’t they teach you anything in law school?

  14. bry says:

    Did Floyd Landis hire someone full-time to search the internet “blog world” just to see if someone was writing disparaging things about him?

  15. Doogan says:

    Haha, that’s great. We don’t have to do the research. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the French Anti-Doping Agency already did it for us. The guy’s a cheater.

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