New York Yankee Legends: Will Andy Pettitte reach the Hall of Fame?

The New York Yankees have had some of the best pitchers to ever play the game of baseball, but no starting pitcher has been more successful in the postseason. Andy Pettitte is the game’s all-time leader in playoff wins (19), innings (276 2/3) and starts (44) and he ranks fourth in strikeouts behind Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and John Smoltz.

Not many of those innings were wasted: Pettitte won at least two postseason starts for the Yankees’ 1996 and 1998-2000 champions. His finest hour might have come in 2009, when, he started a game with only three days rest during the playoffs. He was 37, The Yankees won four of his five starts as he went 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA, a crucial piece of the Yankees’ only championship since 2000.

Now in his third try he is again listed on the 2022 Hall of Fame ballot. If he is judged solely on his performance as a pitcher he will be a shoe in, but if his ties to performance-enhancing drugs, including an admission of unauthorized use of human growth hormone is considered his induction becomes far more complicated. Unlike many in the steroid era, Pettitte admitted that he unknowingly used a growth hormone. He apologized to the Yankees, his teammates and his fans.

Let’s take a look at how one of the Yankee fan favorites got himself onto the ballot.

The early years

The Italian and Cajun Pettitte was born in Louisiana but moved to Texas when in the 3rd grade. In Deer Park, as a teen, he played for his high school where he pitched. The multi-talented Andy also played football while there. In 1990 he was selected by the Yankees in the draft at that age of 18, but decided to play college ball. In 1991 he did sign with the Yankees and the rest is history.

Andy in the minor leagues

From 1991 to 1994, the young Andy played for the New York Yankees in the minor leagues. Andy threw a knuckleball, but when he teamed up with Jorge Posada, in the New York Penn League, Posada couldn’t catch the ball so Andy stopped throwing it. In 1992 Andy and Jorge would first meet up with fellow player Derek Jeter. That year Pettitte would go 10-4 with a 2.20 ERA playing for the Greensboro Hornets. In 1993 he pitched for the Carolina League to a record of 11-9. In 1994 he pitched for the triple-A Columbus Clippers, he went 7-2 with an ERA of 2.98 and was named the minor league pitcher of the year.

Pettitte makes his major league debut

During spring training in 1995, Andy competed with Sterling Hitchcock for a place in the starting rotation, but failed and found himself in the bullpen to start the year. He made his major league debut in April but two weeks later was sent back down to the minors so he could continue starting games. That was short-lived because of injuries at the Stadium, he was called up just ten days later as a starter. He recorded his first win on June 7th. He performed well enough that the Yankee kept him as a starter. In that year he won seven of his last eight games of the season going 12-7 on the season.

At the beginning of the 1996 season, Pettitte really showed his worth going 13-4 before the All-Star break. He was named to the All-Star team but did not play. He finished the season winning 21 games for the best in league record. In the ALCS, Andy would win both of his games against the Orioles. In the World Series that year, he would lose the first game against the Braves but would win game 5 against John Smoltz, and the Yanks would go on to win the World Series their first time in eighteen years.

Andy the pick off artist

Andy looking beneath the brim of his cap, was a pickoff artist. In 1997 he led the league in pickoffs with 14 and induced 36 double plays. The Yankees were defeated by the Indians in the ALCS, and their hope for back to back World Series wins. In 1998 the Yankees would go on to win the World Series again when Andy started in Game Four, defeating Kevin Brown of the Padres in the deciding game of the series. The Yankees again won the World Series in 1999 and three-peated in 2000 when Pettitte went 19-9 with three complete games. It would be the last World Series win during Pettitte’s first stint with the Yankees.

Andy leaves us for the Astros

At the end of the 2003 season, Pettitte cited that he wanted to spend more time at home with his young children before they grew older. He signed a 3-year contract with the Houston Astros. While with the Astros, Andy would help the Astros get to their first-ever World Series in their history. Back then, the Astros were in the National League, they faced the Chicago White Sox in the series but were swept in four games.

Andy makes his Yankee return

After the 2006 season, Andy again signed with the Yankees after refusing the Astros offer. In the season he started the most games in baseball with 34 starts and a record of 15-9. 2008 was the first year in Andy’s career that he didn’t have a winning season going only 14-14.

In 2009 Andy and CC Sabathia led the Yankees to its first World Series since 2000. Andy was 14-8 that year, and in the postseason he became the winningest pitcher in postseason history when he won all four of his postseason starts. He won game 3 of the World Series, and on four days rest won the deciding game 6 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He drove in his first postseason home run in game 3 at Philadelphia. In 2010 Andy’s record was 11-3, and he reached his lowest ERA since 2005. But at the end of the season, he decided to retire.

Pettitte returns yet again

In 2012 The New York Yankees begged Andy to return to the fold and pitch yet again for the Yankees. He agreed, which was probably a mistake on his part. His pitching was not stellar going 5-4 in 2012 and 11-11 in 2013, showing Andy’s decision to retire in 2010 to be the right decision for him. Andy Pettitte will go down in Yankee history as the winning-est postseason pitcher of the modern era. Andy, with his number 47 already retired, will always be a favorite player for the Yankees, as shown by the huge ovation he got when he returned for his first Old Timer’s Day in 2018.

Andy apologizes to his fans

On Monday, February 18, 2008, the New York Yankees and pitcher Andy Pettitte held a press conference regarding Pettitte’s given testimony on the topics of performance-enhancing drug use, Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee and his use of human growth hormone.  With Yankee brass and other players in attendance, Pettitte apologized for his use of an H.G.H.

He asked for the fans’ forgiveness, the Yankee fans as well as the Astros fans.

“I know in my heart why I did things. I know that God knows that. I know that I’m going to have to stand before him one day. The truth hurts sometimes and you don’t want to share it. The truth will set you free. I’m going to be able to sleep a lot better.”

He also apologized to his fellow New York Yankee players, family, his father, and especially to young children that may have looked up to him as a role model.

Andy’s awards and his life today

The one thing missing in Andy’s career is the Cy Young award although he came close several times. Andy does have many other awards including the Warren Spahn Award and an MVP award. Although Andy is no longer a New York Yankee he remains involved in the game both as a coach and is a special advisor to General Manager Brian Cashman working in the front office.

As a baseball dad, in 2018, he became a pitching coach for the high school team whose head coach is former Astros teammate Lance Berkman. Andy’s sons Jared and Josh are both pitchers too: Jared for the University of Houston and Josh at Rice University. Andy is no stranger as he shows up at Yankee Stadium for most celebrations. Andy lives in Texas with his wife Laura and their four children. Thank you, Andy, you’re the best, we could have used a little of you in this postseason.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter

New York Yankees on the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., has unveiled its 2022 ballot. The 2022 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot features 30 former players, including 13 new candidates and 17 returnees. Seven on the ballot are former New York Yankee Players, most notable are Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Andy Pettitte.

Every year the Hall of Fame and the baseball writers put forth a list of eligible players for the annual ballot. Last season the writers did not put threw any new player to the Hall. However in 2019 Derek Jeter was elected to the Hall one short of an unanimous vote. Because of the pandemic he was not installed until last July.

This years list will be voted upon and the results announced on 6 p.m. ET on Jan. 25 on MLB Network. If there are any electees, they will be inducted during the Hall of Fame Weekend on Sunday, July 24, at 1:30 p.m.

Alex Rodriguez:

Even his detractors because of his use of performance enhancing drugs will have to admit the Rodriguez is one of the best baseball players to ever play the game. He started his career with the Seattle Mariners and was already a big star when he became a Texas Ranger. By the time he reached the Yankees he was already a baseball legend.

During his tenure in the Bronx, A-Rod blasted 351 long balls, won two MVPs, three silver slugger awards, and was a six-time All-Star. He ended his career with the Yankees with a .283 batting average over 12 years. He should be a shoe in for a place in the Hall, although some writers will not vote for him due to his short drug involvement.

Mark Teixeira:

The switch-hitting Teixeira launched 206 home runs in the Bronx, earned one silver slugger award, three gold glove awards, and was twice an All-Star. Mark did his best hitting for the three teams he played for before the Yankees. Nevertheless he hit .248 over eight years in the Bronx. He was known for his excellent defense at first base. He had a fielding percentage of .997.

Andy Pettitte:

Known as the best postseason Yankee pitcher, Andy spent 15 years with the Yankees boasting a 3.94 ERA and a record of 219-127. But what he is most known for was how he pitched in important games particularly in the postseason.  In 32 series he was 19-11 with a 3.83 ERA.

Andy Pettitte will go down in Yankee history as the winning-est postseason pitcher of the modern era. Andy, with his number 47 already retired, will always be a favorite player for the Yankees, as shown by the huge ovation he got when he returned for his first Old Timer’s Day in 2018.

Others on the ballot:

Former Yankees’ returning to the ballot are Roger Clemens (tenth and final year), Gary Sheffield (eighth year), Andruw Jones (fifth year), and Bobby Abreu (third year).

Early Baseball Era Committee and Golden Days Era Committee for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2022. These Era Committees will both meet on Dec. 5 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.

The Early Baseball Era ballot includes Bill Dahlen, John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Dick “Cannonball” Redding, Allie Reynolds, and George “Tubby” Scales. All of these candidates are deceased.

The Golden Days Era ballot includes Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Miñoso, Danny Murtaugh, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills. Of this group, Kaat, Oliva and Wills are living.

The results of the Early Baseball Era Committee vote and the Golden Days Era Committee vote will be announced live on MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight” at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 5.

Allie Reynolds was 182-107 over 13 years with the Indians and Yankees, with six All-Star team selections. He led his teams to six World Series titles, going 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. He twice finished in the Top 3 of the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Jim Kaat had a long coreer, playing his last season with the New York Yankees. When his was finished pitching he bacame a Yankeee announcer. Kaat was named to three All-Star Games and helped the Cardinals win the 1982 World Series.

Roger Maris won back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1960 and 1961, setting a new single-season home run record in the latter season with 61. In 12 big league seasons with the Indians, Athletics, Yankees and Cardinals, Maris earned seven All-Star Game selections and was a part of three World Series title teams.

 

 

 

New York Yankees top 10’s: Records that likely will never be broken

New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera

In the newest installment of my top 10 series, I examine New York Yankee and other baseball records that will likely never be broken. My other series examines top 10 pitchers, top 10 first baseman, and top ten Yankee moments in history among many other top tens. But today, we examine some of the outstanding players with outstanding records that will be very hard to break.

  1. The only player to be installed in the Hall of Fame, unanomously!

If Derek Jeter couldn’t be elected to the Hall of Fame, unanimously, it’s hard to believe anyone ever will be. But Mariano Rivera did it, and he did it in his first year of eligibility. Rivera is most often considered the best reliever of all time. Rivera, in his career, all with the New York Yankees he closed 1,115 games with 652 saves. That figure is 51 more saves than Trevor Hoffman, his closest contender.

2. With 2,632 consecutive games played, it’s a record that will not be duplicated!

This is a different time and a game that is played differently; players are constantly injured and given days off to rest. Cal Ripken’s feat is almost unbelievable. In 1995 Ripkin surpassed the Yankees Iron Horse Lou Gehrig’s 2,131 consecutive games played

3. The only perfect game in the postseason!

Don Larsen is the holder of a record that will likely not be broken. He is the only pitcher to have a perfect game in the World Series. The feat was completed in game 5 of the 1956 classic. Not only that, but there has never been a no-hitter in World Series history. Furthermore,Larsen’s record is one of the only two no-hitters in postseason history; the other was by Roy Halliday in 2010.

4. With 1,406 stolen bases, who will break that record?

Ricky Henderson, a former Yankee, played for several teams in his career. He was such a dangerous base stealer that pitchers knew he would try to steal almost every time he took base. Yet, in his remarkable entire career, he was caught stealing only 335 times. Strangely he doesn’t hold the same record for the postseason, that belongs to Kenny Lofton.

5. Who can beat Barry Bonds 762 home runs?

It’s hard to know who took steroids in the steroid era, but the fact is that most of those players were talented enough to play just as well out of the enhancement. It’s hard to tell how Barry Bond’s career would have turned out, but over his 22 years of major league play, he racked up 762 home runs. It has to be pointed out that he may only have used enhancing drugs in a couple of those years. The next closest to his record is Hank Aaron’s 755 accomplished in one more year of play.

6. Most pitching wins in a single season

In the modern era in 1904, the New York Yankee’s Jack Chesbro started 41 games in that single season, for a record that still stands today. Today there are 162 games in a season; in 1904 there were only 154 games. That means that Chesbro pitched all season long on 3.5 days of rest. No team would ever allow a pitcher to pitch regularly on less than five days’ rest, which is a reason that Chesbor’s name will be in the history book for a long time.

7. The most career hits 4,256

Pete Rose has more career hits than any player to play the game. The number he achieved is just 67 hits higher the the second place leader who was centerfielder, Ty Cob. To put it into perspective, Pete Rose’s record is 791 more hits than the 20 year career of Derek Jeter. Pete Rose would be a shoe in for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for his betting on baseball. He has been banned for life. Many believe the ban should be lifted.

8. Most Career Postseason innings pitched

The winningest postseason pitcher in modern times is Andy Pettitte, he also has pitched the most innings in the postseason, a record that still stands today. Pettitte was19–10 with a 3.83 ERA and 173 strikeouts in the postseasons from 1995 to 2005. He has five World Series wins to his name.

9. The most career Postseason hits

The unlikely record to be broken is postseason hits, that belongs to Derek Jeter. He has 180 hits in the post season.

10. Who owns the most World Series rings?

The undisputed owner of the most World Series rings is Yogi Berra, Berra got rings for 10 World Series wins. Berra played for the Yankees from 1946-1965. In his remarkable career he was a 16 time MVP candidate winning the Award three times. Only Barry Bonds has more MVP wins.

Obviously, I could have picked dozens of other records, but these ten are among my favorites. Others are the most hits in a single season, 262, Ichiro Suzuki. Most complete games, 749, Cy Young. The longest hitting streak, 56 games, Joe DiMaggio. Most career World Series home runs, 18, Mickey Mantle, and the list goes on and on. For more wonderful baseball records, go here

New York Yankees Rotation: You ain’t seen nothing yet baby

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

In recent weeks the New York Yankees pitching rotation has turned heads in the baseball world, particularly among the 29 other MLB teams. Before the season started, the expectations were that the rotation could be great, but the early results didn’t show that. Now the rust has been shaken off, the results are outstanding and can only get better. For more information on each pitcher, go to my fellow writer Alexander Wilson’s article.

The entire pitching rotation is held together by New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole. He has just been phenomenal, eclipsing his 2019 stats with the Houston Astros. Like the retired closer, Mariano Rivera, made fans think that when he takes the mound, the foregone conclusion is that the Yankees will get another win. So far this season, he is 6-2 with an ERA of 1.81. He has given up just 13 runs while striking out an amazing 92 opponents. That is second in strikeouts only to the Indians, Shane Bieber. But we expect that from Cole, don’t we?

New York Yankee legend Andy Pettitte has spent time with the rotation and says of Cole:

“It’s very rare that you find a player with his knowledge, his awareness. His mind works like a player that has had fifteen years in the big leagues. That’s the first thing that stands out, how sure of himself he was. His approach to the game, his knowlege of the history of the game. He’s going to be a huge contributor both on the field and in the clubhouse.”

If you notice, Cole has become a mentor to all the other New York Yankees pitchers. You usually see him chat with every pitcher when they come out of a game. Cole loves to talk about the fine nuances of pitching and freely shares it with his teammates.

What has Yankees fans so excited is the emergence of Corey Kluber as maybe a second ace for the Yankees. We might forget, but he is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and could return to the form that won him those prestigious awards. After his no-hitter, that thought has become closer to reality. Imagine going into the postseason with the one-two punch of Cole and Kluber; if both are at their best, they can defeat any team facing them.

But from there, it only gets better. Domingo German is pitching great and showing signs of his 18-4 2019 season. German this season seems to be getting better the more he pitches. In his last outing against the Rangers, he pitched seven scoreless innings in a game the Yankees won 2-0. The Yankees have won his last six starts. Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery are both close to getting it figured out but still need some work. Pitching coach Matt Blake has been working with them so they can contribute to a higher level. Pettitte said of Montgomery, “we need to get him right; I see him as a big contributor for the Yankees.”

Many of the pitching mysteries at the beginning of the season have been resolved for so many pitchers that had not pitched in a year or more, but there is one huge one yet to come. That is, how will Luis Severino pitch when he returns to the team sometime around the All-Star break? Severino is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and so far, reports on his rehab have been good.

In the first half of the 2018 season, he recorded 14 wins before the All-Star Game, the first Pitcher since 1969, when Mel Stottlemyre did it. He was again selected to pitch in the All-Star game. Severino started the AL Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics in a game the Yankees won 7-2. Severino finished the season 19-8 with an ERA of 3.39. He led all major league pitchers with an average fastball velocity of 97.6 miles per hour for the second consecutive year. At the end of the season, Severino signed a $40 million contract for four years with a Yankee option for a fifth year.

Imagine this for a moment… The New York Yankees win the AL East and go into the postseason with a Luis Severino, which returns to the 2018 form, Domingo German, which returns to the 2019 form led by Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber. Could the New York Yankees end up with four ace-like pitchers? My friends, can you say 28th World Championship?

MLB must read analysis: Minor changes could have a major impact on the game

Like it or not, MLB is evolving in many ways. A hardcore group of baseball fans wants baseball to remain just the way it has for the last 130 years or more. They say that changes and analytics are ruining the game they grew up with. Therein lies the problem that MLB faces. The fan base is getting older and older and dying off, shrinking America’s summer pastime viewership. Over the last twenty-some years, baseball has gone from the most-watched sport to last behind football and basketball.

The simple answer to why this has happened is that the younger population finds baseball boring, slow, with too much dead time. Society has changed to a culture that wants immediate satisfaction, and they want it right now. Baseball is not satisfying those needs. This brings us to why baseball viewership and thus revenues are shrinking. The average TV baseball viewer is now 55 years old. Football and basketball viewers are at least ten years younger on average.

MLB wants to change this. Now that MLB has taken over control of the minor leagues, they have a new playground to experiment with what changes in the game can make it more engaging to younger viewers. In the past few years, they have implemented some rules to shorten game length with is one of the complaints most expressed by viewers. For the most part, those changes have had little effect on shortening games.

New and even more dramatic changes are on the way if MLB and the MLBPA (players union) have anything to say about it, and they do. MLB released some big rule changes for the minors this past Thursday. Some of the most dramatic experiments will be tried at different levels of affiliated clubs. Here is just a few: No more Andy Pettitte; the Pettitte move is now a balk. No more multiple pickoff attempts. No more tiny bases; we are going to make them huge. No more umpire; the strike zone is now computerized, umpires will be reduced to referees. I wonder if robots will throw out a player if he kicks dust in its face? No more infielders in the outfield. These are just a few of the changes that will be implemented in the minors this season.

We have to be reminded that these at just experiments, but if many or any are permanently put in place at the Major League level; it could dramatically change the game. A group of MLB executives, team owners, the players, and even ex-Cubs GM Theo Epstein have put their heads together to come with plans to make the game more viewable. Here is the goal:

• A game with more action, more balls in play, and less dead time.

• A game with better pace and rhythm.

• A game with more base stealing and more chances for world-class athletes to show off their athleticism in the field and on the bases.

• A game with less swinging and missing, fewer pitching changes, and less time between balls in play.

Let’s take a look at each one of these changes and how it could affect the game of baseball as we know it.

The Andy Pettitte move is dead in the water.

Andy Pettitte was one of the most successful pick off pitchers of his or any other time. Many felt that it bordered on a balk. Under the new rules, it will be a balk. It won’t be allowed in the High-A leagues, at least. This rule will require all pitchers to step off the rubber before throwing to first (or any) base. The penalty is (what else?) a balk, and runners get to advance a base.

No, no, no, you have already tried to pick off twice!

Nothing is any more annoying and interrupts the game’s rhythm than a pitcher throwing 8 consecutive pick-off attempts. It usually incites loud boos from fans in the stands.   Well, no more, pitchers will be limited to two pick-off attempts. That is not to say the pitcher can’t try again, but he must get the player out if he does. If he doesn’t, it’s an automatic balk, and the player advances.

We are going to make the bases big, really big!

That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but even the small changes in base size could significantly impact how the game is played. Presently the bases are 15″x15″; the new size to be experimented with is 18″x18″. You may say that’s not that big a deal, but yes, it is. How many base stealers have you seen called out just inches from the plate.  The base’s size will shorten the path by 4 1/2 inches, encouraging more base stealing and a more exciting game. For the New York Yankees Brett Gardner and Tyler Wade, this is a dream come true.

Move over, Ump; the robots are here!

Okay, they won’t look like a Roomba or the tin man from the Wizard of Oz, but they are coming in the form of a computerized strike zone. The biggest challenge will be making that strike zone look like what pitchers, players, and fans can agree it should look like. This change will not be in all minor league parks, but Baseball has experimented with the electronic strike zone in the Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League. But now, it will move to the minors and maybe later to the majors.

The low A Southeast League will employ the ABS (Automated Ball-Strike System) at most of its parks as baseball continues to explore the future feasibility of sending in the big leagues’ robots. When the Atlantic League used the rulebook strike zone in 2019, the robots called strikes on pitches that no single human in the park thought was a strike. That has to change for this system to work in the big leagues.

There are several problems to get ironed out before you will ever see a robot calling strike and balls at Yankee Stadium or any other MLB park. Robots read strikes differently than those nasty human umpires. It is presently questionable if an ump considers the player’s size as to where the strike zone is. There is a huge difference in the size of Jose Altuve and the Yankees Aaron Judge. How will a robot handle this?

Also, in the test, the previous version of the ABS was sweeping breaking balls called strikes but didn’t look like strikes to anyone but the robots; players were furious with truly unhittable balls. Some would say a robot can not replace the human eye, and they might be correct; only time will tell. As much as umpires are mostly held in low esteem, how do you take your aggression out on a computer program?

None of these experiments may make it to the majors, or maybe all of them over time will become part of the game. MLB is in a race to make the game shorter and more exciting to increase the fan base as basketball and football try to do the same. Huge stars like Mike Trout and the Yankee’s Aaron Judge bring out the fans, but a better game is even more important.

Besides these changes, sources say other changes are on the way as well.

• A 15-second pitch clock, down from 20 seconds at the upper levels of the minors. Pitchers have 15 seconds to begin their windup or come to a set position from the stretch. Otherwise, the umpire can call an automatic ball.

• The batter will be required to be “attentive” to the pitcher with 8 seconds left on the clock. Otherwise, it’s an automatic strike.

• There will now be a 30-second clock between batters in mid-inning, and the time between innings will shrink from 2 minutes, 15 seconds to exactly 2 minutes.

And these may not be the only changes being experimented with. the independent Atlantic League doesn’t start their season until May 27th, so there is still plenty of time to try out additional changes. You won’t see any of these changes in the majors, but if you visit your local minor league park to take in a game, you may see many of these changes first hand. But make no mistake, the successful ones will be showing up at Yankee Stadium and other MLB parks before you know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees Legends: Mel Stottlemyre and the dynasty years

Mel Stottlemyre is both a famous New York Yankee pitcher and long time pitching coach. Mel was born Melvin Leon Stottlemyre in Mabton, Washington, in 1941. He pitched for the Yankees for eleven years and coached for a historical record of 23 years for his Yankees.  As a pitcher, Mel started playing for his local American Legion post and pitch in high school and at his college Yakima Valley.

Yankee scouts discovered him at Yakima and signed him to a contract in 1961. He was assigned to the minor league Harland Smokies. Shortly after a stint with the Auburn Yankees, he was promoted to the Greensboro Yankees, where he had a 17-9 record with an ERA of 2.50. In 1963 he was used as a starter and reliever, but Houk, the then Yankees manager, seeing his worth as a starter, demanded that he be used only as a starter.

In 1964 Mel was called up to the big team, where he went 9-3 in a successful effort to get the Yankees to their fifth pennant in a row. In the World Series, he went 1-0-1. In 1965 he was made an All-Star but did not pitch in the game. He did win 20 games that year, 18 of them complete games, something unheard of today.

Stottlemyre got 20 wins in both 1968 and 1969. He started the 1969 All-Star game. Stottlemyre threw 40 shutouts in his 11-season career, the same number as Hall of Fame lefty Sany Koufax, which ties for 44th best all-time. Eighteen of those shutouts came in a three-season span from 1971–73. Mel was known as a pretty good hitter, too; he had a grand slam in 1965. The Yankees released Stottlemyre before the 1975 season. Stottlemyre retired with 164 career wins and a 2.97 ERA.

Mel becomes the New York Yankees pitching coach

After a year off, Mel started his coaching career, first with the Mariners, then the Mets, followed by a coaching stint with the Houston Astros. When Joe Torre was named Yankees Manager in 1996, Mel joined his coaching staff as the New York Yankees pitching coach. In his first year, he brought the team ERA down from 4.65 to 3.81. Mel’s pitching staff was regarded as a major factor in the team’s dynasty years when they won four World Series Championships in five years. After 10 seasons, Stottlemyre resigned from his coaching position on October 12, 2005.

During the New York Yankees dynasty years of 1996-2005, Mel Stottlemyre was a key to the Yankees’ success.  He mentored Andy Pettitte, David Cone, Dwight Gooden,  Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemmens, David Welles, and others.  He especially worked with a young set-up man, Mariano Rivera, who become a Hall of Fame closer.  Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were the pitching members of the famous “Core 4,” which also included Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.  Many believe Bernie Williams should have been recognized in that group.

Mel became the pitching coach for the Mariners in 2008, but when the Manager was fired, he was fired along with him. Mel retired from baseball following that season.

He was inducted into the Washington State American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. At Old-Timers’ Day on June 20, 2015, the Yankees dedicated a Monument Park plaque in Stottlemyre’s honor. Mel was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 but went into remission for eleven years. Mel Passed away January 13, 2019, after a long battle with bone marrow cancer, but not before he published “Pride in Pinstripes” in 2007.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam

New York Yankees: No Yankees elected to the Hall of Fame, but they weren’t alone

No New York Yankees player was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but those Yankee players weren’t alone. For the first time since 2013, no player this year received the honor of being enshrined with other baseball greats. Results were announced Tuesday night by Hall of Fame president Tim Mead, and none of the 24 candidates made it. There were 401 ballots cast, although 14 sportswriters turned in empty ballots. Here is how the Yankee candidates made out.

BOBBY ABREU, RF

Abreu played for the Yankees only three years between 2006 and 2008. He was on the ballot for the second time and received 8.7% of the votes. For the Yankees, he batted .295 with 43 home runs. His best years were with the Philadephia Phillies. The closest he came to an MVP was in 2009 with the Los Angeles Angels.

A.J. BURNETT, RHP

Unfortunately for Burnett, he was on the ballot for the first time but received no votes (0 of 401) and will not be a candidate next year. A player must get at least 5% of the votes to stay on the ballot; if he does, he can remain on the ballot for up to ten years. Burnett with the Yankees was 35-34 from 2009 to 2011. Surprisingly the only time he was an All-Star was in his last year of play in 2015 with the Pirates.

ROGER CLEMENS, RHP

Clemens association with PED’s will likely ever allow him to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, although he came the closest this year with 61.6% of the vote, which’s 54 votes shy of being elected. Please don’t feel bad; Barry Bonds will probably not receive the honor either he came 53 votes short. For Clemens, it was his 8th try. While with the Yankees from 1999 to 2003, he was 83-42 with an ERA of 4.01.

ANDRUW JONES, CF

Jones closed out his 17-year baseball career with the New York Yankees and retired after the 2012 season. In his two years with the Yankee, he batted just .220 with 27 home runs. His best years were with the Atlanta Braves. He, in his fourth try he got 33.9% of the ballot.

ANDY PETTITTE, LHP

Yankee fan-favorite Andy Pettitte was on the ballot for the third time and received  only13.7% of the vote, but it was his highest percentage to date. Andy, like several other players, was involved in PED’s. Many feel unlike most of the drug users; his infarction was minor to treat an ailment. He was remorseful and apologized to the Yankee organization and its fans. A group of sportswriters are hard-nosed and feel, and any PED involvement is an immediate disqualification for the Hall. Pettitte is the winningest pitcher in the postseason during modern times.

GARY SHEFFIELD, OF

Sheffield’s 40.6% is the highest number of votes he has gotten in his four years of candidacy. Sheffield played in Yankee Stadium’s outfield from 2004 to 2006 for most of it; he was dogged with a bad shoulder. In his three years with the Yankees, he provided excellent defense in the outfield and batted .291 with 96 home runs. He had a remarkable 22-year career, mostly with the Florida Marlins, although he played for nine different teams in his career.

NICK SWISHER, 1B/OF

Swisher was a big fan favorite of Yankees fans, not so of the sportswriters; in his first year of candidacy, he received no votes and will not be on the ballot again. While with the Yankees from 2009 to 2012, he batted .268 with 105 home runs. He played both in the outfield and at first base for the Yankees. Can you say smile? His best years were with the Yankees, and he dramatically fell off after leaving the team. He finished his career in 2015 with the Atlanta Braves.

It’s not like the Baseball Hall of Fame will have nothing to celebrate this year. Last year the celebration was canceled by the coronavirus. So this year, from July 23-26 in Cooperstown, N.Y., the celebration will go on. New York Yankee great Derek Jeter will be enshrined along with Larry Walker, Marvin Miller, and Ted Simmons. Jeter fell just one vote short of a unanimous vote by the sportswriters. Yankee great closer Mariano Rivera is the only player to receive a unanimous vote. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Other notables that did not get in this year include Barry Bond (PED’s), Curt Shilling (politics/homophobic), Mark Buehrle, Latroy Hawkins, Todd Helton Manny Ramirez, among a few others.

New York Yankees Analysis: Pitching or hitting? It’s the pitching dummy

For the New York Yankees and all of the other 29 MLB, whoever scores the most runs wins. It sounds like it doesn’t have to be said, and is obvious, the difficultly is getting there, particularly in the postseason. The Yankees seem like they have been losing each postseason now, for years. The team, like the Tampa Bay Rays that pitches better and hits better, will win time after time That is exactly what happened to the Yankees in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

The New York Yankees worked to make that happen this past offseason by going to California during the Winter meetings and procured the services of the best pitcher available in baseball, Gerrit Cole. The Yankees thought that one move would take them to a World Series and a win. The reality is that it didn’t produce that 28th World Championship.

It wasn’t Gerrit Cole’s fault; there was plenty of blame to go around. The injuries, the mostly failure of the pitching staff, other than Gerrit Cole, and bats that frequently went dead. So what is most important for the Yankees to fix. As they say, its the economy dummy; well, likewise, it’s the pitching dummy. Pitching is always more important than hitting. If your pitching staff hold the opponent hitless or runless, you win, period.

This is not to say that hitting isn’t important, of course it is. The Yankees are built to be a home run team, a team that hits for power. The problem with that is when you don’t hit home runs, you frequently lose games. To assume your lineup will hit home runs in every game is just not realistic. The Yankees have the power but misses something in the basic baseball book. They don’t bunt, they don’t stea,l and usually, they don’t run. They rely almost entirely on hitting home runs.

What makes home runs key is to have players on the bases when that power hitter hits for the fences. To do that, you have to have a balanced lineup of power and contact hitters. The Yankees have the power, but they are lacking in the small ball factor. If you look at the Tampa Bay Rays that have a tiny payroll compared to the Yankees with their monster payroll, you see a better balanced team and can execute all that baseball has to offer.

For the Yankees to win in the postseason, they must have quality pitching, and that usually means four pitchers that can consistantly win games. The Yankees, pure and simple did not have that in 2020. For your hitting to mean anything, you must have somone on the mound that can keep you in the game. If you look at it realistically, fans only felt good with Gerrit Cole on the mound. If any other Yankee pitcher was on the mound, you never knew what would happen. That is not a good way to go into the postseason and expect to win. After spending big on Cole, the Yankee owe it to themselves and the fans to upgrade the pitching staff to back up Cole.

The recipe that the Yankees must put together is a pitching rotation that wins a lot more than they lose. With Cole leading the rotation and Luis Severino coming back in May or June, and the return of Domingo German, assuming you can count on him repeating his 2019 season, the Yankees are pretty well set up. The big but, is that they need a fourth premium type pitcher. Jordan Montgomery, dubuting Deivi Garcia, and the departing Paxton and Happ weren’t the pitchers to get the job done.

The Yankees may very well take Masahiro Tanaka back on a short term, discounted contract. This writer isn’t sure that’s the right thing to do. Tanaka’s best days are behind him. The few years haven’t been great. Do the Yankees settle for an inconsistant pitcher, or do they get a legitimate mid rotation pitcher. They should secure by whatever means a fourth man in the rotation and let Mongomery, Garcia or whoever fight it out for that anchor spot in the rotation. If they can do that they will go into a postseason with pitching confidence.

If the New York Yankees can do that, when the hitters go silent, which unfortunately will happen in the best lineups, they can still win games. I am not discounting that the Yankees need a better mix of hitters, but the bottom line is good pitching normally wins games.

The photo accompanying this article is the Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte, the winningness Yankee postseason pitcher of all time.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

 

New York Yankee Legends: Postseason wonder Andy Pettitte (video)

Andy Pettitte the best Yankee postseason pitcher

One of the most popular New YorkYankee players was Andy Pettitte. Andy pitched nine successful years with the Yankees before leaving at the end of his contract to pitch for the Houston Astros in 2004 so that he could be closer to his young children at the time. In his three times with the Yankees he was one of our most successful pitchers, but his claim to fame was his postseason play. He was 18-10 for the Yankees. In 2009, the last time we won a World Series, Pettite won his game in the ALDS against Twins, won his game in the ALCS against the Angels, and won both of his games in the World Series against the National League Phillies.

The early years

The Italian and Cajun Pettitte was born in Louisiana but moved to Texas when in the 3rd grade. In Deer Park, as a teen, he played for his high school where he pitched. The multi-talented Andy also played football while there. In 1990 he was selected by the Yankees in the draft at that age of 18, but decided to play college ball. In 1991 he did sign with the Yankees and the rest is history.

Andy in the minor leagues

From 1991 to 1994, the young Andy played for the New York Yankees in the minor leagues. Andy threw a knuckleball, but when he teamed up with Jorge Posada, in the New York Penn League, Posada couldn’t catch the ball so Andy stopped throwing it. In 1992 Andy and Jorge would first meet up with fellow player Derek Jeter. That year Pettitte would go 10-4 with a 2.20 ERA playing for the Greensboro Hornets. In 1993 he pitched for the Carolina League to a record of 11-9. In 1994 he pitched for the triple-A Columbus Clippers, he went 7-2 with an ERA of 2.98 and was named the minor league pitcher of the year.

Pettitte makes his major league debut

During spring training in 1995, Andy competed with Sterling Hitchcock for a place in the starting rotation, but failed and found himself in the bullpen to start the year. He made his major league debut in April but two weeks later was sent back down to the minors so he could continue starting games. That was short-lived because of injuries at the Stadium, he was called up just ten days later as a starter. He recorded his first win on June 7th. He performed well enough that the Yankee kept him as a starter. In that year he won seven of his last eight games of the season going 12-7 on the season.

At the beginning of the 1996 season, Pettitte really showed his worth going 13-4 before the All-Star break. He was named to the All-Star team but did not play. He finished the season winning 21 games for the best in league record. In the ALCS, Andy would win both of his games against the Orioles. In the World Series that year, he would lose the first game against the Braves but would win game 5 against John Smoltz, and the Yanks would go on to win the World Series their first time in eighteen years.

Andy the pick off artist

Andy looking beneath the brim of his cap, was a pickoff artist. In 1997 he led the league in pickoffs with 14 and induced 36 double plays. The Yankees were defeated by the Indians in the ALCS, and their hope for back to back World Series wins. In 1998 the Yankees would go on to win the World Series again when Andy started in Game Four, defeating Kevin Brown of the Padres in the deciding game of the series. The Yankees again won the World Series in 1999 and three-peated in 2000 when Pettitte went 19-9 with three complete games. It would be the last World Series win during Pettitte’s first stint with the Yankees.

Andy leaves us for the Astros

At the end of the 2003 season, Pettitte cited that he wanted to spend more time at home with his young children before they grew older. He signed a 3-year contract with the Houston Astros. While with the Astros, Andy would help the Astros get to their first-ever World Series in their history. Back then, the Astros were in the National League, they faced the Chicago White Sox in the series but were swept in four games.

Andy makes his Yankee return

After the 2006 season, Andy again signed with the Yankees after refusing the Astros offer. In the season he started the most games in baseball with 34 starts and a record of 15-9. 2008 was the first year in Andy’s career that he didn’t have a winning season going only 14-14.

In 2009 Andy and CC Sabathia led the Yankees to its first World Series since 2000. Andy was 14-8 that year, and in the postseason he became the winningest pitcher in postseason history when he won all four of his postseason starts. He won game 3 of the World Series, and on four days rest won the deciding game 6 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He drove in his first postseason home run in game 3 at Philadelphia. In 2010 Andy’s record was 11-3, and he reached his lowest ERA since 2005. But at the end of the season, he decided to retire.

Pettitte returns yet again

In 2012 The New York Yankees begged Andy to return to the fold and pitch yet again for the Yankees. He agreed, which was probably a mistake on his part. His pitching was not stellar going 5-4 in 2012 and 11-11 in 2013, showing Andy’s decision to retire in 2010 to be the right decision for him. Andy Pettitte will go down in Yankee history as the winning-est postseason pitcher of the modern era. Andy, with his number 47 already retired, will always be a favorite player for the Yankees, as shown by the huge ovation he got when he returned for his first Old Timer’s Day in 2018.

Andy apologizes to his fans

On Monday, February 18, 2008, the New York Yankees and pitcher Andy Pettitte held a press conference regarding Pettitte’s given testimony on the topics of performance-enhancing drug use, Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee and his use of human growth hormone.  With Yankee brass and other players in attendance, Pettitte apologized for his use of an H.G.H.

He asked for the fans’ forgiveness, the Yankee fans as well as the Astros fans.

“I know in my heart why I did things. I know that God knows that. I know that I’m going to have to stand before him one day. The truth hurts sometimes and you don’t want to share it. The truth will set you free. I’m going to be able to sleep a lot better.”

He also apologized to his fellow New York Yankee players, family, his father, and especially to young children that may have looked up to him as a role model.

Andy’s awards and his life today

The one thing missing in Andy’s career is the Cy Young award although he came close several times. Andy does have many other awards including the Warren Spahn Award and an MVP award. Although Andy is no longer a New York Yankee he remains involved in the game both as a coach and is a special advisor to General Manager Brian Cashman working in the front office.

As a baseball dad, in 2018, he became a pitching coach for the high school team whose head coach is former Astros teammate Lance Berkman. Andy’s sons Jared and Josh are both pitchers too: Jared for the University of Houston and Josh at Rice University. Andy is no stranger as he shows up at Yankee Stadium for most celebrations. Andy lives in Texas with his wife Laura and their four children. Thank you, Andy, you’re the best, we could have used a little of you in this postseason.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees: All-Time Starting Rotation and Bullpen

The New York Yankees have a great history of starting pitching and relievers. They arguably have the best closer of all time and a top 5 pitcher in the league every decade.

Ace: Whitey Ford

Ford won 25 games in his CY Young award-winning season, which is almost unreachable in this day and age. He was probably the most consistent pitcher in the 50s and never had an ERA over 3.24, helping him win the ERA title twice.

He was also a 10-time all-star, 6-time World Series champion, and even won a World Series MVP. A sure hall-of-fame player if the game has ever seen one.

2nd Starter: Vernon “Lefty” Gomez

The triple crown is usually associated with hitters, but Gomez won the triple crown for pitchers twice! In 1934 and 1937, he led the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts.

Gomez was also clutch when it counted, he did not lose a single postseason game in his career. This made him the main reason for the 5 World Series titles the Bombers won in the late ’30s.

3rd Starter: Ron Guidry

In 1978, Guidry had one of the best seasons ever for a pitcher. He won 25 games, had an astounding 1.74 ERA, and nearly 250 strikeouts. That is a type of dominance only a few pitchers have reached in their careers.

He was even a slick fielder throughout his career, earned himself 5 Gold Glove awards.

4th Starter: Charles “Red” Ruffing

Along with Babe Ruth, the New York Yankees stole another piece from the Red Sox, Ruffing helped them win 6 World Series and achieved 6 all-star appearances.

Ruffing and Gomez was a deadly one-two punch back then, both had 20-win seasons in the late ’30s. If they held their opponents to under 4 runs on average, them they were guaranteed to win a lot of games with Ruth, Gherig, and others in the lineup.

5th Starter: Andy Pettitte

The model for health and longevity, Pettitte led the majors in games started three times in his career. He pitched 200+ innings in 10 seasons of his career and even won 20 games, in 1996.

Pettitte, as well as other pitchers above, helped the Yankees win 5 World Series rings in the late ’90s and early and late 2000s. He pitched in and won many big games for the New York Yankees, making it hard to leave him out of this rotation.

An argument can be made for Spud Chandler, Mike Mussina, CC Sabathia, and Mel Stottlemyre to be in this rotation, but the five pitchers above allowed the Yankees to be. most successful throughout their history.

Bullpen

Long Reliever/Middle Reliever: Johnny Murphy

Murphy helped the ’30s New York Yankees win 6 World Series.

He even pitched 200 innings one season as a reliever, proving he can stay in games and consume innings. He led the league in saves four times as well.

Middle Reliever: David Robertson

His slider and ability to escape bases-loaded jams throughout the mid-2000s gives him a spot on this team. He could come out of the bullpen in the middle of an inning and let up no runs.

Robertson’s stuff allowed him to earn the second-best strikeout percentage in Yankees’ reliever history. He is the only active pitcher on this team.

Middle Reliever: Joe Page

Page only had an 8-year career, however, he led the majors in saves twice. He was also a 3-time all-star and lit up the radar gun.

Middle Reliever/Setup Man: Sparky Lyle

Lyle was a huge contributor to the 1977 and 1978 World Series Champion teams.

He led the league in saves in ’76 and would usually finish off games when he appeared. His most significant statistic was winning the 1977 CY Young award as a reliever.

Lyle could pitch multiple innings in relief, making him a good candidate for middle relief and setup man.

Setup Man: Dave Righetti

Beginning his career as a starter, Righetti was converted to the bullpen.

In 1986, Righetti led the majors in saves with 46. He won the 1981 Rookie of the Year award and reliever of the year twice.

He is second on the Yankees all-time saves list, behind none other than Mariano Rivera.

Setup Man: Rich “Goose” Gossage

He led the majors in saves three times, made 9 all-star appearances, and had his best years with the Yankees.

Gossage dialed up the radar guns and blew away hitters with his high 90s fastball. Not many pitchers in the league could throw with such velocity in the ’70s, making it even tougher to react to and make contact.

Closer: Mariano Rivera

There should be no argument here, Rivera won pretty much every award one can win as a reliever. He is the first unanimous hall of fame player in the history of Major League Baseball.

He has the most saves out of any closer ever (652), the most games finished (952), and the best ERA+ (205).

Any time “Enter Sandman” played on the loud-speaker, everyone in the budding knew the game was pretty much over. In 96 playoff appearances, Mo’ only lost one game.

He also had one of the most unhittable pitches ever, his cutter. He threw it inside on lefties and generated a lot of broken bats. He played on a level only a few relievers have reached in their careers.

When a bullpen consists of a Cy Young winner, two live arms, and the best closer ever, there is almost a guarantee the current game result as a win. A full 25-man all-time Yankees roster has been formed. This team could easily be the best group of players ever assembled.