What Pettitte said

Washington's tempting target
In new stadium, Yanks to sell everything under the sun

In a word, Andy Pettitte said nothing during his hour-long press conference this afternoon. Or at least, nothing we haven’t heard already.

For sixty minutes, Pettitte spoke to reporters and basically reiterated his position: He took HGH for only two or three days. He felt really bad about it. He feels bad about everything, and he just wants it all to go away.

But while Pettitte didn’t add much to the steroid talk, he did clarify a few of his own thoughts and shed some — but not much — light on baseball’s drug subculture. At the outset, reporters were quick to ask Pettitte if he thought of retiring. “I’d be lying if I said that didn’t cross my mind,” he said at least twice. He had a difficult off-season, he said, and wanted to hold the press conference as much to clear up his conscience as to clarify the issues.

Interestingly, Pettitte noted that he took HGH without much knowledge of the drug. “I didn’t know much about it,” he admitted. This, to me, is the kicker. Clemens took a similar stance during his Congressional circus hearing the other day. How can Major League Baseball players continue to inject substances into themselves without knowing what it is? How can they pump themselves full of chemicals without bothering to figure out the side effects and long-term problems associated with the drugs? It’s mind-boggling.

Finally, in the part that I found most interesting, Pettitte routinely discussed his relationship to the money he’s making. We take for granted the fact that baseball players play for a lot of money. Salaries, as you’ll see in a later post, are indeed absurd, and fans seem to assume that baseball players simply take the money and run. But along with multi-million-dollar salaries come the pressure the perform.

Pettitte, if you believe him, took HGH on two different occasions because he was trying to recover from injuries. Once with the Yankees and later with the Astros, he felt the need to come back and pitch as well as he could to justify the team’s investment in him and to help his team win. For players not used to the idea of taking home $12 or $16 million annually, the dollars can exert a lot of pressure.

At one point, a reporter asked Pettitte what sort of support the Yanks’ brass gave him and if they had asked him to come back or stay home. He said he wanted to do what the team wanted. “I don’t need the money, and I don’t need to go through this,” he said. If the Yanks thought he was a distraction, they could, he said, ask him to shut it down and go home.

Now, I’m not trying to make excuses for Andy Pettitte, but money does some odd things to people. If Pettitte feels the pressures of a contract when he’s hurt, imagine what players who aren’t making the big bucks must think. If they can bulk up, they get rewarded. So as baseball seems to be avoiding the subject of why and how PEDs are prevalent in the game, I think the answer lies in the economics of the sport as it always does.

For Pettitte, the days ahead will set the tone for his season. Does the media portray him in a sympathetic light? I thought the questions he faced today weren’t that tough, and he was more than willing to answer them more candidly than I thought he would. While the fans will be harsh, the media, at least, probably won’t be.

But baseball is once again left with questions it won’t or doesn’t want to answer. As players are sent out as sacrificial lambs, will anyone in power be willing to take the blame?

Washington's tempting target
In new stadium, Yanks to sell everything under the sun
  • Thom Madura

    Everyday of the year – millions of people take drugs of various types that are recommended to them – of which they know very little about. It simply means they trust the person recommending the drug – normally a doctor. It could be another practitioner – like a nutritionist, a nurse, a pharmacist, a trainer – lots of possibilities. In fact – I could believe that no one knows about every drug that they have taken or been given in their lifetime.

    Remembering that once coca cola contained a now substance just points this out.

    I – for one – would like to see REAL scientific studies on the usage of steroids and HGH to discover what the real side-effects of them are. To date – we do not have anything that verifies what has been said about them.

  • http://mybaseballbias.com Jason

    Interesting that McNamee told him that it would help him recover, but then told Pettitte that he wouldn’t feel comfortable taking it. Pettitte took it anyway.

    One thing you can’t deny though Ben – Pettitte came across as very contrite. Even if you think he’s a cheater and the scum of the earth for taking HGH, he did a lot today for himself in getting the media off his back.

    • Whitey14

      Jason, you make a good point and I think it’s been proven time and time again. Tell the truth, answer the questions and your story dies away much more quickly than those of the folks who refuse to answer questions or “talk about tha past”. People are willing to forgive you if you seem sincere and I too thought pettitte did seem sincere and contrite. It took some nuts to do what he did today, even if was to help him clear his conscience.

      One more thing I’ll say in defense of pettitte, and carl pavano proves the point for me, pettitte was eager to come off the D.L. and earn his salary and was willing to do whatever possible to do so. There are too many slugs in pro sports, pavano being the most obvious, who are happy to collect their money and lounge around when they are injured.

      Red Sox fans are still relieved that Theo was outbid on that guy and I’ll gaurantee we’re not excited about facing pettitte when he has something to prove this year.

  • huuz

    in a perfect world, bud selig would get to go to jail for PED use.

  • mustang

    Please lets just play baseball… we all make mistake…With all those dollars and the fans I don’t know if i wouldn’t do the same… Its easy to judge when your on the other side.

  • Jon

    If you’re implying that the high salaries in baseball are the reason for drug use, I couldn’t disagree more.

    Steroid use is more rampant in football (especially college football) where the salaries are (theoretically) zero or a fraction of what they are in baseball.

    If you’re suggesting that every player be paid exactly the same amount, then perhaps then PEDs would not have been as prevalent.

    But if salaries were, say, 1/5th of what they are today – that is, top players making ~$4M or so (which I think would quiet the bitching of most fans who can’t seem to understand basic economic principles such as scarcity and supply and demand), you can bet that players would still be using them just as much.

    I believe that if you’re going to sacrifice your body for a chance to make $14M a year, you’ll sacrifice it for a chance to make $2M a year. Both of those numbers are orders of magnitude above what they’d be making otherwise. And the list of players who have been caught so far supports this.

  • knucklebuster123

    Andy can’t bring himself to admit he is a cheat.

    Hey, Andy, a rose by any other name is still a rose. You have made your fellow Houstonians truly ashamed of you.

    • Whitey14

      You’re right. If a guy steals bread to feed his kids, he’s still a thief, but as I was reminded on this site a couple of weeks ago, it’s not like pettitte committed murder so the punishment, which in his case has been embarrassment and shame, certainly fits the crime.

    • Jon

      What are you talking about? All he’s done since the news came out is admit his drug use. Maybe you’re confusing him with Clemens?

      If he believes that using HGH to recover more quickly from injury makes him less of a cheat than if he used it when healthy to better his performance, I don’t really agree, but I can see how someone would think that.

    • Jon

      I wasn’t aware that you speak for all Houstonians.

  • knucklebuster123

    Andy may expect to be required to testify under oath yet again as part of the lawsuit Clemens filed against McNamee.

  • Travis

    I commend Andy for being honest in the end. It’s more than we can say for many people.

  • Manimal

    This got me so excited for the season, Pettitte has a reason to play and a reason to shut up people who said he cheated.

  • http://www.duelingpinstripes.wordpress.com jboogz

    I think that the outside stuff surrounding the players who have used or are widely suspected to have used is going to a lesser effect than most people think. I think the one of the few places these guys get respites from all the media scrutiny and fan berating is between the lines.

    For three hours they are surrounded by their peers who probably couldn’t give a rat’s hairy butt what they did or for how long they did it for, no matter what the “clean” guys say to the media.

    Of course some guys might not be able to take the howling from the fans, Raffy Palmeiro anyone?, but a guy like Pettite is still going to get cheered for on opening day. It may be due to his honesty, or just the fact that if the guy plays for your team and isn’t a total d*ck then its water under the bridge…..as long as he produces. Case in point: Jason Giambi. When he was hitting .128 in April in 2006, people wanted to ship him out of town for a bag of balls, even the brass wanted to see if they could cut him or send him to the minors to “work out his swing”. But then in late May early June, he started to get back on track and the cheers followed.

    Fans are fickle. Some will cheer. Some will boo. But all will pay the ticket price, and in the end thats all MLB really cares about.

  • Rich

    Clemens could learn a lot from Andy Pettitte.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Pettitte did a good job today. He seems to want to put it behind him and was willing to answer any and all questions, even the stupid ones.

    What I liked is that he said he is used to pressure as a New York Yankee and he’s played under that pressure.

    I think that taking HGH for a few days for an injury is very different than taking steroids over a long time to bulk up etc. HGH for a few days isn’t going to have an effect on someone. As Andy said, you have ot take HGH a long time for it to have an effect.

    I don’t think he got an edge and the point is moot. The constant harping on the one guy who opened himself up and was willing to take any and all questions from a sometimes hostile press corp is ridiculous.

    The sanctimonious nonsense of people toward Pettitte is a bunch of horsecrap.

    Let’s just frigging play baseball.

    • http://www.duelingpinstripes.wordpress.com jboogz

      I totally agree with the HGH issue. If there could be clinical trials done to show the long and short term effects of use it could only be good for the game. If its found to have minimal side effects on body chemistry after short term use than why not use it?

      Imagine TJ surgery only taking 3 months of recovery time with carefully regimented HGH administered by professionals. Or knee surgery that didn’t end seasons/careers. If MLB would put up $50M, thats less than $2M/team, and run some independant studies I’m sure good things could come from it. Either they learn what is going to happen to all these guys who ravaged their bodies due to long term use, and maybe devise some plan to help them as they age, or they find out instead of losing $40M becuase Carl Pavano is fragile, they lose $40M becuase Carl Pavano is horrible at baseball.

  • dan

    He’s not in the same boat as clemens…. pettitte has admitted to using and essentially asked for forgiveness. We should be applauding him, not bashing him.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      Really. Why would anyone else do what Andy’s done if he just gets bashed for it? Andy is being castigated for being the only player to come out and say, “Question? I’ll answer all of them.” Other players are not going to follow in his footsteps if this is the treatment you get for putting yourself out there.

  • matt

    I know thie is off topic but, the Plain Dealer in Cleveland is reporting that the Yankees have offered Edward Salcedo a $5 million contract, I don’t care how much they spend the Yanks need to get this type of talent in the infield. Salcedo would be the equivalent of a top-5 pick.


    • steve (different one)

      this would be an amazing acquisition. i’m not going to get my hopes up, since this has been going on for months, but this would be incredible.

  • maximumpotential

    this team NEEDS Girardi. he’ll be perfectly willing to sit a broken-down Giambi in favor of a hot Duncan/Ensberg. he’ll MAKE Matsui DH no questions asked. if Abreu struggles and Cano is Cano, don’t be surprised to see them switched in the order. Girardi won’t be afraid to change something a little quicker than Torre would’ve, and he’ll probably stick with it longer instead of going right back to the same old thing.

    Girardi should manage the pitchers fine. some people like to point out the Marlins soph slump last year due to “over-use”. maybe, but they were a young STAFF that also had an entirely new coaching staff, surrounded by a young TEAM with their only “veterans” M-Cab&Willis. Yanks have solid vets around our Big Three. those Marlins were Willis and a Medium Eleven. he’ll juggle them perfectly. he should use Joba as the longman for the first half with Moose 5. second half switch ‘em. by season’s end Joba’s #1? plus by default, he automatically handles the bullpen better than Torre IMO.

    how about Hank’s comments on steroids? he actually said something on-point lol

  • Pingback: yankeesdaily.com » Blog Archive » Pride of the Yankees 2/19/08 The Bloggers