day 46: andy

Today is 46 days, which is four days and six weeks of the omer: netzach she’b’malchut.

I’ve been planning to write about Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte since Day 7, when I first talked about performance-enhancing drugs. I’ve instituted a kind of morality clause for this project, trying not to include troublemakers, or at least to talk honestly about their misdeeds (ahem, Day 2/Alex Bregman) if they are included. Pudge was the only player I highlighted who had any suspicion of drug use.

Pettitte’s use was pretty minor and shouldn’t, in my opinion, overshadow his incredible career. I bring it up, however, because of the care with which he handled his admission of drug use.

All of us mess up, hurting ourselves and others, and we can only hope that our mistakes are the result of thoughtlessness and not malice. But we also all have deliberately missed the mark, and although I joked about Bryan Stevenson’s famous saying on Day 38/Bill Buckner’s E-3, I really do believe that each of us is more than the worse thing we’ve ever done. To me, one of the best and highest parts of being human is teshuvah. I am a bit of a connoisseur of apologies; one of my favorite Twitter accounts is “Sorry Watch,” which analyzes apologies. Spoiler: Most public apologies are pretty poor.

The 2007 Mitchell Report included the accusation that Yankees trainer Brian McNamee injected Pettitte with HGH in 2002 and 2004 to help an elbow injury heal more quickly. The drug was not banned by MLB at the time, but Pettitte did obtain it via a prescription for his father.

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Astros Oswalt, Clemens, and Pettitte with the 2005 NLCS trophy

I remember watching his press conference in 2008, when he was back with the Yankees, taking a special interest since he and the Rocket had been an integral part of the 2005 National League Champion Astros team. By that point, Pettitte had spent 10 of his 13 years in the MLB with the Yankees, but he had made my dream come true of seeing the Astros in the World Series. I was invested.

His apology was a model one. Sorry Watch’s pinned tweet is basically a pithier Rambam, listing six components of a true apology: “1. Use the word “sorry” or “apologize.” 2. Name the offense. (Not “what happened.”) 3. Take responsibility. 4. Show you understand the impact. 5. How will you insure this doesn’t recur? 6. Make amends.” Pettitte hit all of them. What a contrast with anything anyone on the Astros organization (with the possible exception of Drayton McLane) has said about the 2017 WS cheating.

Pettitte was no slouch on the mound: He won five WS championships with the Yankees and was a three-time All-Star. He ranks as MLB’s all-time postseason wins leader with 19. Among Yankees pitchers, Pettitte ranks first in strikeouts (2,020), third in wins (219), and tied for first in games started (438). He won the most games of any pitcher in the 2000s. His record speaks for itself.

This southpaw is the king of the postseason. But for me, that one-hour in spring training in 2008 made his legacy worthy of netzach. So let’s get a little closer to revelation with him and Day 47, “nobility that manifests as endurance.”

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