Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pettitte Speaks

Andy Pettitte made a statement today regarding his use of HGH. Here is the good majority of the AP article that is important to understanding this as a human issue.

"Andy Pettitte used human growth hormone to recover from an elbow injury in 2002, the "If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize," Pettitte said Saturday in a statement released by his agent. "I accept responsibility for those two days."

"In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow," Pettitte said in the statement released to The Associated Press by agent Randy Hendricks.

"I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped.

"This is it -- two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list," he said. "I wasn't looking for an edge. I was looking to heal."

Pettitte was not linked to steroids in the report, and he emphasized he never had never used them.

"I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable," he said. "If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication.

"I have tried to do things the right way my entire life, and, again, ask that you put those two days in the proper context. People that know me will know that what I say is true," he said.

I think this set of remarks shows that mistakes can be made that aren't related to overt cheating. Not everyone involved in this report was looking to affect on field performance or transform themselves into a hulking home run hitter or fireballing ace. It doesn't excuse Pettitte for violating the ethics of the sport, if not the law, but it does explain a lot. If we believe the connection of Roger Clemens to the allegations in the report, that's a different story. Clemens prolonged his career by years and earned tens of millions of dollars in doing so. He stayed on top of his form well beyond the shelf life of his body, due to prolonged cycles of drugs....again, if true.

If any one of us, under pressure to perform our work or schooling despite physical weariness or mental exhaustion, pop Adderall or load up on speed does that make us a pariah? If we do it once or twice and realize the error of our ways, does that mean we should be lumped in with serial abusers and cocaine addicts? There has to be some perspective beyond the whitewashing of Mitchell Report names as a clan of monsters. We, as fans, have to think more critically than many of us are to see the complexity of the issue and the variety of issues at stake. The media, for its part, should treat its news with similar sensitivity.

It makes me sick to see the Red Sox blogs loading up on this. Even FJM, for all its good work, is guilty of broadly condemning every name in the report without ever stopping to consider how accurate it is, or at what level each name is involved. Boston Dirt Dogs has an entertaining bent on the Sox and Yankees most of the time. They rib, and poke, and rub us the wrong way, but they generally stay above the filth of the fray. Not this time. They are almost reveling in the news that several Yankees were involved, without ever ONCE acknowledging that Mitchell is a Red Sox employee and did very little to specifically investigate the Red Sox. There may or may not be a manifestation of the apparent conflict of interest in the report, but regardless it is out there and is a part of this public discourse. Failing to acknowledge it while simultaneously taking liberties in the portrayal of Yankees in their gleeful treatment of the topic is classless.

I think it's unfortunate that Andy did what he did. I believe his version of the story, and I think there is room to put his story in perspective. He was honest about his involvement and owned up to the wrongness of his participation in this mess. It doesn't erase the past, but it does put it in perspective. Giambi for his part has taken a similar path, although never coming right out and spilling the beans. The difference between Pettitte and Giambi, and the reason that I still like Pettitte where I can't stand Giambi is that Andy made a short term mistake and reversed course. Giambi fueled an entire career and made 100s of millions of dollars by doping. He is bearing the effects of his doping today and is virtually useless to the team as a result.

The bashing of Pettitte and the public shame will never disappear as long as he shall live. It's over for Andy Pettitte. He's as big a stain on the landscape of baseball as Barry Bonds. That's due to the naming of names without appropriate context. Now that the context is here, it doesn't matter because the mythology is already established and the horse is out of the barn. If only the general public were a little smarter and a little better at thinking critically. That's too much too ask though. As long as people spend more time watching SportsCenter than they do reading books, that's the culture we have created. Alas.


ChrisV82 said...

What most of the Red Sox blogs, including FJM, conveniently gloss over is that the Red Sox front office knew, or highly suspected, that Gagne and Donnelly were "juice guy[s]," but that didn't stop them from acquiring alleged cheaters to help them win.

When the Yankees supposedly cheat, that's a sin of the first degree, but when the Red Sox supposedly cheat, that's fine and dandy?

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