Many of my fellow Yankees fans have spent the last few hours questioning the Mitchell Report, alleging bias by Senator Mitchell and pointing out that the report contains little in the way of tangible evidence. Most of this was clearly to justify the conflicting emotions they continue to feel about homegrown hero Andy Pettitte. To be entirely forthright, I would be remiss if I did not include myself among those fans. I savaged the report among my friends, stating that its ridiculously low standard of evidence was irresponsible, and would eventually serve as its downfall. Although I continue to feel this way, this defense no longer provides any support for the case of Andy. Early last evening, he confessed to his mistake. He corroborated the testimony of Brian MacNamee, his longtime trainer, concurring with the assessment that he had taken HGH on two separate occasions regarding one injury in 2002. Now, there are a few questions to consider.
How does Pettitte look? Compared to most of the other big name players implicated in the report or by previous criminal investigations, I would suggest that he comes out of this looking fairly good. Regardless of whether the mainstream media accepts the veracity of his story, he comes off as the first major player named in this report willing to admit his error and seek the forgiveness of the baseball public. He is immediately placed in stark contrast from Roger Clemens, who continues to proclaim his innocence in the face of significantly more damning evidence.
Who does this hurt? Clemens, obviously. Roger claimed that MacNamee was an unreliable witness, pressured to provide names so as to avoid criminal prosecution. To be honest, many writers and columnist agreed with Clemens, most notably Jayson Stark (notable because he was the only writer at The Worldwide Leader who did not accept the report as gospel). However, MacNamee seems fairly reliable now, being that one of the troika of players that he accused came forward and corroborated his claims. Clemens may be forced to go to court and win in order to restore his reputation.
Is Pettitte telling the truth? I am inclined to believe him. He has always seemed like an honest man, and many of my friends from Boston have found him to be the only decent likable Yankee during the dynasty run. Even MacNamee testified to Andy's motive, stating that Andy had told him, in confidence, that he wanted to try HGH to heal his elbow, and only used it during that one stretch. For all those who were so quick to believe MacNamee in the first place, it would be hypocritical to now ignore other portions of his testimony to serve the ends of further vilifying and pillorying a decent man who made an incredibly stupid error. The one idea that I will not buy is the concept that HGH was legal in the game in 2002. As Andy himself stated in his apology, he knew he was doing something wrong, and therefore stopped. If Pettitte knew at the time it was wrong, who are we to contradict him and suggest that he was really not culpable of any crime? Yankees fans must accept that one of their favorite sons committed a crime against the game, even if it only occurred once. However, fans of other clubs must see that Pettitte confessed to his mistake regardless of the weak nature of the evidence against him, thereby rightfully positioning himself as a sympathetic and honorable (at least more honorable than Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, etc..) figure in this sordid tale.