When his name showed up in the Mitchell Report, Andy Pettitte came clean. He admitted in the winter of 2007 to using HGH to help himself recover from an elbow injury. Pettitte said yesterday that he’s hardly heard a thing about his connection to performance enhancing drugs since then.
“Never hear a word,” Pettitte said. “When I came back I never heard about it. Ya’ll know how I live my life. I believe that God had his hand on me in that sense. How else can you explain it? How can you explain my kids going to school and never having a problem with it? I can’t explain it.”
Is it possible that another way to explain it is that baseball is often willing to forgive — to some extent, anyway — those who own up to the mistake quickly and fully, and then never show a hint of regression?
“Maybe, I’m not sure,” Pettitte said. “I feel like you still wonder how in the world it’s turned out like it has for me. … It’s weird for me to talk about. I know what I did. I don’t even want to get back on that (topic), but it’s been in my rearview mirror ever since I’ve come back and played. For me it hasn’t been an issue. I know there’s been an awful, awful lot of people probably trying to go out and try to prove or think I was trying to lie about something when I said I wasn’t doing anything to try to cheat. It’s been in my rearview mirror. I don’t know how it will affect these other people.”
The stain of performance enhancing drugs always lingers. Whether Pettitte hears about it or not, it’s at least a small part of his legacy. In his admission, Pettitte said he used HGH twice to heal faster from an injury, not to improve his performance. It’s cheating either way, and Pettitte accepted that responsibility. Whether you accept his reasoning or accept his apology is up to each individual, but he at least gave fans that option.
Admission and acceptance seem to be the most significant steps toward some level of forgiveness. It’s the difference between being a man who made an ethical mistake, and being a man who tried to at all costs to take the easy road through something meant to be difficult. Neither is particularly good, but it’s certainly possible to see one as more forgivable than the other.
“I have no idea (why players keep doing it),” Derek Jeter said. “You’ve got me. It’s like you’re rolling the dice, playing Russian Roulette. I don’t know. You’re taking a chance obviously, a huge chance, and guys are getting caught for it.”
The Ryan Braun suspension is only the beginning. You can bet we’re going to hear a lot more about performance enhancing drugs in the coming days and weeks. For some players who are busted, there will be no turning of public opinion — Alex Rodriguez might be one of those, Braun might be too — but for some guys, there’s one chance to limit the public relations damage and help this sport begin to heal from its own damages. It begins with an admission and an apology.
“You move forward,” Pettitte said. “The biggest thing is to mean what you say and move forward with it. Obviously (Braun)’s a young player. He’s got a long career ahead of him, hopefully, and you put this in the rearview mirror and (don’t) do anything like this again.”
Associated Press photo