February 6, 2011

Looking for Crash Davis

I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring, which makes it like sex. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250, not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there's a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. 'Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball. It's a long season and you gotta trust. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball. – Annie Savoy

I know things, too. Like I know that Tupac is buried under Fenway Park. It has been proven by science. I know that you have not experienced home-field advantage until you’ve seen a game in Cameron Indoor. I know that Antonio Cromartie has at least two other children that he has forgotten about (their names are Cassius and Herman, and you will be hearing from my attorney). I am almost certain that Joe Paterno died in late 2009 and Penn State has somewhat flawlessly been pulling off a Weekend at Bernie's stunt ever since. I also know that it is monumentally disappointing that Andy Pettitte is retiring.

For the first time in approximately a decade, I am not awaiting spring training with cocky anticipation. Just tepid anxiety. Because in many ways Andy Pettitte was my Crash Davis. [I should just establish, right here in this first post, that I am a die-hard Yankees fan; there is no use pretending to be objective]. Well, I thought that Andy was my Crash. Not in the "sweet spot, soft-core pornography" and "long, slow, deep, wet kisses that last three days" sort of way. He is our seasoned veteran. Clubhouse leader. Class act. Tough, no nonsense, works his ass off, dependable with a soft side workhorse. Like Crash, Andy fought through injuries and acted like his love for the game could never age. But that is where the fantasy ends. Andy Pettitte isn’t “hungry” anymore. Don’t get me wrong – as with any long-term relationship, I knew that the end was nearing for some time now; it doesn’t make me any less bitter or heartbroken. I also know that my first love, Crash Davis, would never have done this to me.

Crash knew that every moment in The Show was sacred. That, one day, his body would no longer allow him to play baseball. Andy threw in the towel before that day ever came. Maybe in ways, like Mike Mussina, he wanted to go out on top. But this was not a 20-win season. He was injured for months and then the Yankees wet the bed in the playoffs. His post-All-Star ERA was a whopping 7.47. But he was once again stellar during the 2010 playoffs, going 14.0 innings in two starts with a 2.57 ERA. He still has the skill, talent, and health to play the game at an elite level. He just doesn’t want to anymore. And for whatever reason, that is so much sadder to me.

I do not dismiss the idea that he may return in the second half. Maybe, if we are all lucky, he will be “hungry” again in July. I won’t hold my breath, though. I think Andy’s hunger, or lack thereof, is related to Roger Clemens and his selfish, perjuring, abscessed ass. Andy will undoubtedly be a star witness in the upcoming trial. And I think, regardless of what anyone says, that he cannot imagine facing the New York media to talk about the Rocket’s juicing regimen a few hours before pitching against the Red Sox in the midst of a pennant race. I think it is too much for him. The stress and misery regarding that trial – especially for a quiet, God-fearing, country man like Andy Pettitte – is just not worth it. Not for $15 million. Not for another ring. Not when his family is waiting at home. Not for anything. So, on one hand, good for him. He has given his life and soul to the New York Yankees, he is a borderline Hall of Famer, and he has won five championships. He does not owe us anything. We will all continue to worship at the Church of Baseball, with or without Andy Pettitte, forever. But selfishly, and ideally, I expected more from him (although not quite as much as I expect from Antonio in past-due child support). Especially after the Yankees got burned by Cliff Lee. We were desperate for his help (see, e.g., Bartolo Colon; Mark Prior; Freddy Garcia) and, more importantly, his leadership. I expected him to want one more shot at October glory. I expected him to still be hungry. Like Crash.

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