JEFF PEARLMAN

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America’s Favorite Cheater, a guest post by Jason Tabrys

Jason Tabrys has an interesting take on the retirement of Andy Pettitte. Here you go …

He’s that soft spoken lefty with the slow Texas drawl. A man dedicated to his faith and his family, tenacious, unflappable in the moment.

Andy Pettitte may be among the best pitchers the New York Yankees have ever seen. But he’s also a confessed cheater.

People find it easy to forget that. After all he’s ‘Andy Pettitte’— a good ol’ boy just as likely to read a Bible as a scouting report. But it is a fact nonetheless. The most shocking revelation to come out of the Mitchell Report, the most easily excused and dismissed of all the PED indiscretions in an era marred by them.

The apologists sang that it was merely HGH and not steroids. They said he was only trying to heal faster in an effort to help his team win games. Sportswriters weakly jabbed when they could have gone in for the kill and his teammates stood beside him without exception.

No player before or after has ever received the public support of the fans and other players more than Andy Pettitte on the day of his repentant press conference, not Alex Rodriguez, and certainly not Jason Giambi. A press conference that felt more like a wake and a rally to help him get through the hard times.

The championships, the post-season dominance, a two-time 21 game winner, and three-time All-Star, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Andy Pettitte isn’t “cheater” and I wonder why. I wonder why that isn’t the case with Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. I wonder why they don’t get to hide from their tarnished legacies the way Andy Pettitte does.

Andy Pettitte may never make it to the Hall of Fame and his PED use may play a part in that. Exceptionally good but not great, Pettitte wasn’t a baseball God like the others. He was hardly ever featured on the cover of magazines, never the story, never “The Guy.” He was a grinder, relatable, not a star beyond our reach.

Even now we understand Pettitte’s decision to leave the game at a relatively young age. We understand that the man doesn’t want to be away from his family anymore and we empathize in a way that we never do with pro athletes. Andy Pettitte was authentic even when he wasn’t; he was never presented as the perfect player, or the perfect guy, never packaged.

No the first word I think of when I think of Andy Pettitte isn’t “cheater” it’s “throwback”—and that’s why his cheating stings a little more.