There are a handful of greats that have worn pinstripes for the New York Yankees, and then there is that special group that came out of the late 1990s and burst onto the scene for a decade after. Headed by Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, those 90s and 2000 installments of the Yankees won five championships in New York. Pettitte stepped away in 2011 before being lured back, but now he’s calling it quits for good.
Andy Pettitte, 41, announced today that this season will in fact be his last. His last career start will come near his hometown against the Houston Astros, and his last start at Yankee Stadium will come Sunday against the San Francisco Giants. So with Mariano Rivera and now Andy Pettitte set to share going-away cake in the clubhouse, where does that leave the ‘captain’ Derek Jeter? Or the Yankees?
Jeter has remained mum on the situation, and as a result the Yankees have stopped short of blowing up the whole team to rebuild. That hesitation could play out as long as Jeter holds out hope for another season. The team seems to be confident he could play but are unlikely to keep the aging superstar. My how the times have changed.
With Todd Helton announcing his retirement weeks ago, this really marks the end of baseball’s golden era. That era was dominated by rampant steroid use but also produced a group of stars that we identify with the values [and stats] of Hall-Of-Famers. These guys were ultimate team guys. Players like Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., Frank Thomas and Chipper Jones. Guys that played the game the right way. If not for Andy Pettitte’s ties to steroids he would be a Hall-Of-Famer without a doubt.
His numbers are borderline Hall-Of-Fame with 255 career wins now and a 19-11 postseason record. But if you ask many voters today if Pettitte would get in hey would without a doubt say no. His ties to the Mitchell report will likely dampen his Hall Of Fame aspirations but that won’t take away from what he’s accomplished. He even apologized the right way in his admission to using HGH.
End of an era? I think the golden era has long passed. But it is the end of an era in New York baseball, and that’s a problem the Yankees can’t spend their way out of.