Setting the tone for the 2008 season

Torre on ESPN's Sunday Conversation
Washington's tempting target

In a few short hours, the Yanks’ first of many days of reckoning will arrive. When Andy Pettitte takes the microphone with his lawyer at his side this afternoon, he will, in effect, set the tone for the 2008 Yankee season for better or for worse.

On the field, as we all well know, 2008 is a year of transition. It’s a rebuilding year for a team built to win now and win later. The new guns are coming up, and the old guys are playing out final years of costly contracts. With a farm system rich with talent and coffers nearing replenishment, the 2008 season will continue to lead in a new era of Yankees as the old ones find their way to the door.

The field itself is undergoing a transition. In just 1 month and 13 days — check out the snazzy new countdown at right — the Yankees will take the field in the Bronx for their final Opening Day at the old Yankee Stadium. Each game will bring that ticker closer to zero and closer to the day that the Yanks and their fans cross the street for newer and more expensive pastures.

But while new players and the ongoing construction of a new stadium will set the tone for much of the season, today brings the bellwether event for the Yankees’ 2008 season. When Andy Pettitte faces a skeptical media and a very skeptical public, the Yankees will begin to learn what is in store for them this season.

Make no mistake about it: Andy Pettitte is the pivotal player on the Yankees this year. The team opted against pursuing Johan Santana because Pettitte said he would come back. They view Andy as a bridge to the new. He was very effective last year and brings a wealth of knowledge about the game and his pitching. The team needs Pettitte to make his 35 starts and to impart his knowledge to those who will inherit his position.

Looming over everything are the HGH revelations and the Roger Clemens/Brian McNamee circus, and it’s a shame to think that a report issued by a Red Sox part owner that didn’t manage to paint a complete picture of drug use in baseball could be the deciding the factor in the Yanks’ 2008 season. But here we are. Such is life.

If Pettitte can convey a sincere apology, if he can diffuse a scandal, and if he can come out of today’s press conference confident, the Yanks should have reason to hope. If he gets bogged down — as his Congressional testimony did — in a confusion of details and information, it will be a long season of media skepticism and abuse at the hands of harsh fans in Boston and Baltimore, Chicago and Cleveland, Toronto and Tampa Bay.

Here we go. Let’s hope everything gets off on the right foot.

Torre on ESPN's Sunday Conversation
Washington's tempting target
  • E-ROC

    This news conference isn’t necessary.

    I wonder how Hank would react if Pettitte bombs this season. CashMoney will probably hear it from the mouthpiece, if this happens.

  • Samiamsports

    Thats a bold me on this one, this pointless press conference in no way whatsoever will set the tone for this season.even if he bombs, once he strings 3 to 4 good starts together in the season he will be getting standing ovations just like giambi was getting them a few years back.

  • Rich

    If Pettitte is going to let the Mitchell Report, or perhaps more accurately, Roger Clemens, be the primary factor in determining the success of the season, then he isn’t the man or the player that I think he is.

    People make mistakes. Good people own up to them. It is because one person didn’t own up to his mistakes that Pettitte is the focus of so much scrutiny.

    I think Pettitte will over come this challenge because of his strength of character, and because his teammates and many Yankee fans will support him.

    • Whitey14

      Even as a Red Sox fan I respect Pettitte and I have no doubt he’ll pitch just fine in 2008. He will take a lot of crap on the road, especially Boston, which is unfortunate.

      But there are two reasons why he is up for all this scrutiny. The first is of course clemens, but the second is the fact that he initially lied about his usage and only when he went under oath in front of congress did we learn about his use in 2004. Coming clean means telling the truth when you have the opportunity, not saving part of it for later.

  • Geno

    If anything, I believe this whole ordeal makes Pettite pitch better in ’08. He’s a big game pitcher – at his best when the pressure’s on. The pressure will most certainly be on this season, and Andy will be more focused because of it.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    He’s made it clear he wants to pitch in the new stadium. I hope that he can weather any boo-ing on the road and concentrate on the love of the game and the love from NY fans. I think Andy will have a good year and we should all support him. He really didn’t do “that much” and there are so many others out there that the Mitchell Report did not get that it’s completely unfair to begin with.

    people love to hate the Yankees and this gives them another reason, but Andy Pettitte has the talent and grit to rise above it.

  • NYYank55

    Anyone who’s followed Andy’s career and who knows Andy “the man” is aware of his tenacity under pressure and of his integrity. For any true baseball fan to condemn a man who has willingly admitted to having made a mistake is both unfair and foolish. I believe Andy’s faith and honesty will carry him through this ordeal and he will rise to the challenge.

  • Mike A.

    Any chance this can be the last PED post in the history of RAB? I’m so sick of hearing about this crap.