Yankees fans were already prepared to face 2014 without Mariano Rivera, and now they will have to add Andy Pettitte to that Core Four exodus. It feels different with Pettitte than it does with Rivera, probably because Andy has called it quits once before in 2010 before returning a year later. This time, though, it feels like this is really it for number 46. His body is no longer capable of the demands placed upon it by a professional baseball player. With the departures of Jorge Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte, as well as the uncertainty that surrounds the future of Derek Jeter, the book is closing on the Yankees that we have known for years on end.
The sense of calm associated with Andy Pettitte starting a big playoff game is only exceeded in my mind by the feeling of calm associated with Rivera being on the mound to close out a game. Andy has stepped up to the plate in big spots throughout his career and come through in them more often than not. Thinking back to the Yankees' World Series championships in my memory, there was always Pettitte, right along side Posada and Jeter and Rivera, coming up big when the team needed him to. If there is a lasting legacy to be had, it's the long history of postseason success that this group, including Pettitte, has had.
A five-time World Series champion, three-time All-Star, and a 19-game winner in the playoffs, Andy Pettitte has been one of the best Yankees pitchers that some of us have had the pleasure of watching. There was the HGH and his brief vacation with the Houston Astros, but Andy has managed to redeem himself in the eyes of most with his unfailing consistency and success. Pettitte has never had a losing season in his career, a testament to him and the great teams he has been a part of. That mark is in danger this season, particularly with the way that the team is playing, but Andy will have a couple more opportunities to go out with the third-most wins in Yankees history without ever coming up on the wrong end of a season record.
At 41 years old, Pettitte was the oldest starter in MLB this season. The injuries became more nagging and the ability to work out between starts became less of an option. Seeing our stars falter with signs of age is always tough and seeing them go out on top is always a little easier to take than the alternative. Pettitte may not be going out on the top of his game, but he isn't going to pitch until he's forced to search for a job before just fading into the background. Thankfully, Pettitte is sparing fans from seeing his brilliant career end that way instead of on his own terms.
For better or worse, the Yankees are going to have a different look next season. There will be no Andy Pettitte in the rotation, no Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, and there may be no Derek Jeter at shortstop, depending on his ankle injury. Robinson Cano may not be brought back if the Steinbrenners are serious about getting payroll below $189 million. It's the end of the era of Yankees teams we have been treated to for so long. Those dynasty teams were so special and we will likely see nothing like it ever again. Andy Pettitte may or may not be Hall of Fame material when it is all said and done, but we had the good fortune to be witnesses to a fabulous career that is deserving of the warmest of send offs.
Enjoy retirement, Andy. You've earned it.