A recent comment from New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia has reenergized debate surrounding Andy Pettitte‘s Hall of Fame candidacy.
When asked about his ongoing friendship with retired left-hander Andy Pettitte, the 36-year-old, who has taken after the native Texan in revitalizing his career, told Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News, “It’s a lot of fun to bounce stuff off a Hall of Famer.”
No, it was not CC’s enthusiasm that made the Yankees’ fanbase go bonkers. As a matter of fact, it did not even have to do with the implied reference to his effective cut-fastball, which Pettitte helped grind into his repertoire.
Instead, the uproar had to do with the three words he uttered at the end of his all-too-kind statement. Sabathia, who is trying to put the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career of his own, essentially guaranteed that Pettitte’s name will be amongst the greats in Cooperstown come 2018, when the southpaw is first eligible to be inducted.
Granted, it makes sense for CC to throw some respect at the guy who showed him what it truly means to “pitch” in the twilight of a career.
With that said, Sabathia’s statement has no base.
As a Yankee fan, it’s easy to pull for one of the most reliable arms in franchise history. The man who stared down opposing hitters in the biggest of spots and consistently put them aside, aiding the organization in one of the most successful stretches ever constructed.
It’s also incredibly easy to fall into the same delusion as 85 percent of the fanbase — the ones who don’t understand the difference between Monument Park and Cooperstown.
Andy Pettitte deserves a plaque. In fact, give him 10 of them. Invite him back every single Old Timers’ Day ceremony. Make 10,000 commemorative videos that will give any late-20th century fan the chills.
The man deserves a spot deep inside of the hearts of every single pinstripe lover. That’s what 19 postseason wins and five world championships earns you.
However, what he does not deserve is a spot in the Hall of Fame.
For those who cannot differentiate good from great; clutch from immortal: think of any historical player’s name (at any position). If you could have woken up on any day and made the argument for that person being the best player at his position in his league, and dispersed that over a 10-year stretch of his career, you have a player worthy of name-recognition next to the likes of Cy Young, Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax.
Now, let’s resurface with Pettitte. You could not have made that case once, at any point, in his career.
Before the nostalgia moves you back toward the other side of the spectrum, consider the fact that this guy sports a 3.85 ERA, only recorded a sub-4.00 ERA in nine of his 18 seasons, and won 256 games in the midst of a 20-year stretch that can be argued as the best string of success any franchise has ever sustained.
Additionally, consider how overrated the guy was as a playoff performer.
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Sure, he was on the mound in the clinching games, oftentimes getting the job done. But 3.81 ERAs are not drooled over typically when it comes to postseason play, a time when perfection is key.
Furthermore, the man had five postseason series — 1997 Cleveland, 1998 Cleveland, 1999 Atlanta, 2001 Arizona, 2002 Anaheim — in which he let his team and the fanbase down.
If the postseason was to be included as his saving grace of his resumé, that aspect, too, has five more flaws than most Hall of Fame starters have to their name. Not to mention the PED hiccup which he came clean about, still leaving him in a tier below every single candidate — especially when you take into account the lack of Cooperstown success of every steroid-linked player, legendary or not.
Longevity, stability and winning. Those are three factors that earn you points with the fanbase, potentially get your number retired and give you a Hall of Fame “case.” They are also three factors that apply to Andrew Eugene Pettitte.
Unfortunately for him, the fourth factor, dominance, which separates the immortals from the borderlines, does not apply to him in the slightest.
So, CC, that comment may have earned you a couple of new grips for your slider, but it does not blind the minority of Yankee fans and the 29 other fanbases in the MLB.
Logical baseball minds can separate fandom and truth, and realize that New York will get an induction in 2018 — Mariano Rivera.