Andy Pettitte gets the kid-glove treatment from the New York Daily News

Associated Press
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Andy Pettitte showed up at Yankees camp in Tampa yesterday to speak to Yankees minor leaguers. Or, as the New York Daily News characterized it, “to offer words of wisdom that perhaps one day will help a future generation of Yankee stars.”

The Daily News story notes that, apart from some gray hair, Pettitte looked fit and ready to play if he wanted to. The story says he talked about “the attention to detail that big leaguers have” and about how Pettitte “used himself as an example.” He additionally offered insight about “the commitment it takes to get to the big-league level and some different things, goal-setting, just some little things [he] learned over the years to help me.” The story is non-critical. It’s actually inspirational. It’s a portrait of a Great One coming back home to pass on what he knows to the Yankees’ Youngsters.

It also makes no reference whatsoever to Andy Pettite’s history of performance enhancing drug use or the legal proceedings about PEDs to which he was a party.

To be clear, this sort of story shouldn’t include such things because such things are pretty irrelevant. Pettitte is no longer a player. His drug use is in the past. Given what we know about PEDs it likely had far less impact on his performance than hysterics like to claim and made him effectively no different than scores and probably hundreds of other players of his era. It really doesn’t belong in a story about a retired player in 2016, at least in a story that is not about his past.

Except, to the Daily News, this sort of thing is almost always in these sorts of stories. Just not stories about Andy Pettitte.

In 2014, when Barry Bonds was invited back to Giants spring training, just as Pettitte was invited back to Tampa, the Daily News did a story on it. The lede: “Barry Bonds, the home run king with the drug-checkered past, is back in baseball.” Further down, the story included an entire paragraph about Bonds’ drug and legal history. The final paragraph gave shoutouts to then-Nationals manager Matt Williams’ and then-Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire’s PED history as well. Indeed, three of the six paragraphs in a story about an ex-player visiting spring training were about PEDs.

Similarly, when Bonds was under consideration to be hired by Marlins this past offseason, the Daily News’ story likewise went deep on Bonds’ drug history and, again, made mention of “admitted steroid user” Mark McGwire, who otherwise had nothing to do with the story. Once Bonds’ hiring was made official, the Daily News’ headline was “Steroids-tainted Barry Bonds hired as Marlins hitting coach.” Again, with more references to McGwire as “admitted steroid user” despite the fact that he has been coaching for several years now.

Why does Pettitte’s drug use get no mention at all when players who have been out of the game longer continue to be defined by their drug use by the Daily News? Notably, in stories which have nothing to do with the players’ pasts?

It certainly can’t be because Pettitte was honest and forthcoming about his drug use. I realize a lot of people think he was, but he wasn’t. As I detailed in 2014, Pettitte lied about his PED use on multiple occasions, including after he was named in the Mitchell Report. He also has, quite conveniently, claimed that the only two occasions he took PEDs just so happened to be the two times for which there is evidence from a third party that he did them. It was originally zero occasions and then one occasion. Pettitte has had to change his story a few times, which must be annoying. Oh, and Pettitte has also claimed that he only used PEDs to recover from injuries. Maybe that’s true, but no other player has ever been believed when he has claimed that, especially by the New York Daily News.

Again, I don’t think any less of Pettitte than I do any other player who was caught up in the PED mess of the past 20 years or so. It was a thing that happened and, in my mind, it takes nothing away from his career, his team accomplishments, his individual accomplishments or his legacy. If I’m the Yankees I WANT Andy Pettitte back in Tampa, teaching the next generation of Yankees players. If I’m doing a news story about it, I make no mention of his PED past unless it’s relevant to the story or if I’m writing detailed background about the guy.

But the New York Daily News, like a lot of other news outlets, has not taken such an approach with PED-using stars in the past. They tend to only really do that with Andy Pettitte. The paper famous for its “I-Team” tends to turn a blind eye to a favored player.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.