Pettitte: “I just didn’t have the hunger”

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I’ve been watching Andy Pettitte’s press conference.  It just ended a minute ago.  Some random things that struck me:

  • All of the conflicting reports we’ve heard over the past several months make a lot of sense given how much Pettitte says he wrestled over this.  He said that just two weeks ago he was ready to come back. And then he wasn’t.  He’s been all over the map, really.  At the risk of reading too much into this, it seems like his subconscious knew that he wasn’t going to play again, because he admitted he lacked the drive to rehab his groin and do the other kinds of offseason work he normally does.  He didn’t come to a conscious decision about it, however, until just recently.
  • Pettitte does not seem like a waffler. People will read too much into a random “you can never say never” comment he made, but he was emphatic about not pitching in 2011 certainly, and said that he’s done pitching.
  • He’s pretty clear-eyed about his career. He said he doesn’t consider himself a Hall of Famer. When asked about how he was able to pitch so well in the post season he said that if you look at the numbers he wasn’t really any different in the playoffs than he was during the regular season.  If anything that sells himself a bit short given the tougher competition in the postseason, but it does kind of harm the case of those who would claim that he was some sort of October clutch god.
  • He said the Roger Clemens trial had zero impact on his decision. This squares with what I’ve been hearing from a source I know close to Pettitte. And if you think about it, there’s even an argument that playing would have made the Clemens stuff less of a distraction. At least then he’d have something to do with himself rather than obsess about it. He could hide behind team spokesmen more easily.
  • He said that he spoke with a lot of people about whether he should go on. One of the people he spoke to was Tino Martinez, who told Pettitte that if he had any doubts, he shouldn’t play. Why? Martinez felt like he hung on for one season too long and seems to have regretted it.
  • He also said that Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies didn’t ultimately impact his decision, though there was an interesting note: he said that his offseason workouts began when Lee signed because he “felt an obligation” to the Yankees now that they were down a pitcher they had been assuming they’d get.  Ultimately, though, his lack of a desire to come back trumped this.

That last thing is probably the most interesting thing in all of this to me. I find his sense of team on that point to be fascinating and highly admirable. Indeed, in this whole press conference he has come off as just a swell dude, and I mean that sincerely.

Who knows what the future holds for Pettitte?  I don’t see him as a broadcaster. I could totally see him as a folksy pitching coach or something.  I don’t think he’s going to play baseball anymore, however. And that’s a good thing given that Andy Pettitte — more than most guys in his shoes — seems to have truly engaged the question of his desire and his ego and his drive to go on.

Good luck, Andy.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.