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.