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Witnessing my childhood crumble before my eyes

December 14, 2007

So the Mitchell Report came out today…and I have no idea what to say. First, maybe a little background is in order:

Some of my earliest and fondest memories of childhood involve the Yankees and my dad. It’s not the typical “my dad took me to my first Yankees game when I was three and I’ve been a fan ever since” kind of story — mostly because we have lived in Alabama ever since I reached the ripe old age of one-and-a-half. It’s more like a “my dad is my dad and I’ve been a Yankees fan ever since birth.” You could call it brainwashing, or you could call it devotion, but I’ll always be a Yankees fan, no matter what happens. And, though I’m not really one for packratting all my things through the years, I still have my Yankees World Series Champs 1996 poster in my room back home. Complete with Andy Pettitte front and center. And at that point in my life, my dream was to be a pitcher for the Yankees. Sure, I would go on to wear out my shoulder from overuse, and yes, I would eventually grow to idolize Bernie Williams because I would switch to centerfield. [Tangent: Maybe Bernie and I have a deeper connection than I imagined after looking at his website. I play guitar…he plays guitar…he’s tall, dark, and handsome…and I stunted my growth with asthma medicine at a young age. But I digress…] But I was always drawn to Andy’s folksy attitude, his laid-back Texas drawl and his knack for coming up big in the biggest spots. So now fast forward to the present…

I’m sitting here more than a decade wiser from that magical ’96 season, and my fond childhood memories are quickly deteriorating. Now the details might state that Pettitte didn’t even consider using until well after that season — and the following seasons in that great dynasty — but that means nothing to me now. Pettitte’s reputation will forever be tarnished by this, now much more a Western outlaw instead of the righteous Texas cowboy. And that, my friends, is the travesty of this situation. While I definitely can’t agree with John Kruk’s examination of the Report [paraphrased: “MLB should have kept the Report quiet and in-house so as to not damage the images of the players involved.”], I realize that there are many more people who will hold my same opinion(s). Much like I mentioned earlier, I will always love Andy Pettitte — Roger, I’m not surprised you were implicated in this, and, I’m sorry, but I don’t hold you in the same personal esteem as your buddy, Andy — whether he admits his use, denies it completely, or allows it to just blow over. But instead of being akin to one of heaven’s angels, he’ll probably have to be content as simply a man with more ability and talent than myself.

And let me revisit those comments of ol’ Krukky for just a second. Quite frankly, they don’t make any sense. You made your millions playing — and are making millions broadcasting — solely because the game of baseball is so constantly in the public eye. If the nation didn’t care and didn’t have a healthy stake in this whole ordeal, then your job would have been marginalized long ago. Simply put, no sport can capture the attention and ire of the whole nation quite like Major League Baseball — excepting, of course, this — and that is precisely the reason that the American public deserves to be informed to the fullest extent about what is going on. If the freaking Congress can get involved — the same Congress that is supposed to represent the interests of, you guess it, the American public — then I think this issue is big enough to keep that public involved. On the other hand, Bud Selig could have kept it quiet, could have called the named players into his office privately, and could have handled the whole situation without involving any outsiders. And then where would that leave the league? Still with a debilitating steroid scandal, but now also with a crooked commish who covers up embarrassing issues, a more suspicious public perception, and — probably not avoidable even with the Report out in the open — a vicious cloud hanging over each and every player, named or unnamed by some Report. So I guess, looking at every possibility, “keeping it quiet and in-house” would be the best option, right, John? Maybe you could stick to standing up in the batter’s box. Or maybe to plugging your products on TV [listen closely…I don’t think it’s a joke]. But again, I digress…

Bringing it back full circle:
1) No, this does not tarnish the Yankees’ reputation as a whole and, no, it does not invalidate their legitimate championships before Andy started using.
2) Yes, it tarnishes every single one of the named players’ reputations, probably forever, regardless of what comes of this debacle.
3) I don’t want to hear the “Oh, but they haven’t been proven guilty, and since this is America, you should be innocent until proven guilty” argument. It doesn’t matter when you’re being tried in the courts of public opinion. You can be cleared of all charges but still be seen as scum by the public [see: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you’ve got to acquit.”].
4) We’re still the Yankees. We still have A-Rod — who, by the way, was NOT implicated in the Report, and we still have Joba, Phil, Ian, Melky, and Robby. So, Yanks’ fans, don’t worry, we’ll be fine for years to come. Just grit your teeth and bear it for now, and we’ll get through this together. At least we don’t have to deal with Manny or Varitek everyday, right? Maybe next time he’ll take the mask off like a man.

Check out this reaction to the Report from a guy who’s feeling it as much as I am.

Until next time…
ET

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