Two winters ago, when Andy Pettitte retired, it hurt. It was like having your wife abruptly announce plans to join a convent, even though the sex was still good. Worse, you knew she would never receive proper recognition for her pole-dancing skill.
For Andy Pettitte, it also meant falling one nudge shy of Cooperstown. He would leave with 240 career wins, a lifetime 3.88 ERA and a couple Cy Young near-misses. If he could just pop one more big season, crack the 250 wins mark, pick off a few more runners, (honing his rep as Greatest Ever) - score one more World Series ring, or at least pitch well on that national October stage... Bingo. He might make it. But it wouldn't happen. She was taking down her pole and heading to God.
Well, now, he's got his shot - and on every level, it's a shining example of Yankee legacy. He's pitching for peanuts. He didn't come back with the Houston Astros. He didn't put himself up for auction. Can you imagine what Bobby Valentine's Yankee-obsessed chicken-eaters would have paid to fit him in their clown-nose-red uniforms? But he never gave them the chance.
Today, we have in our Tampa camp a bright and shining symbol of virture - a thread extending back to the great Torre teams - a touchstone for loyalty and an antidote to the recent winter of greed. When Andy Pettitte takes the mound, nobody can say the Yankees are all about money. He is practically pitching for free - for his team, for us - and hopefully, for a plaque in the place where baseball stores its greatest treasures.
Folks, we've just been saved.