He’s back: Andy Pettitte to start for Yankees on Sunday

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Andy Pettitte hasn’t exactly been blowing away minor-league hitters, but the 39-year-old left-hander said over the weekend he was ready to return to the big leagues, and apparently the Yankees agree.

General manager Brian Cashman just announced that Pettitte will be called up to start Sunday against the Mariners, which will be his first major league action since the 2010 playoffs.

Seattle ranks 12th or worse among AL teams in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, so it’s a nice welcome back matchup for Pettitte.

In four starts in the minors, he threw 17 innings with a 3.71 ERA and 13/2 K/BB ratio while opponents hit .284. And in his final tune-up, Pettitte allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings at Triple-A. None of which will stop the Yankee Stadium crowd from going nuts when he takes the mound Sunday afternoon.

His last start versus the Mariners? July 8, 2010. Pettitte threw eight innings of one-run ball with Jorge Posada as his catcher and Mariano Rivera closed out the victory.

The Yankees stopped playing Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America”

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The Yankees have played “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch since 9/11. The version they play is the most famous version, recorded in 1939 by Kate Smith. As of today they will no longer be playing the Kate Smith version, however.

Why? The New York Daily News reports that it’s because “the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.” Which is a rather interesting way of putting it, because there’s not much “potential” to this:

Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

I’m guessing this information was available in some Kate Smith biography or is in the memory of some of her big fans who may still be alive, but it was news to the Yankees until recently and once they learned it they decided that going with a version of the song NOT sung by Kate Smith was better. Good call!

Oh, and this was not the first time that the Yankees had to make this kind of call. Ten years ago they fired Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who used to sing the song at the ballpark during the postseason, after he made anti-Semitic remarks. Precedent, baby.

Anyway, I’m sure someone will complain about this, but I feel like there are better hills to die on than “the Yankees should continue to play the racist lady’s version of the show tune that, despite what we think of it now, was never meant as an actual patriotic anthem.”

If you feel like dying on that hill, be my guest. But please, show your work.