The debate this week that the Yankees and everybody else should treat Andy Pettitte no differently than Alex Rodriguez because both players were admitted performance-enhancing drug users is so absurd it makes my head hurt.
It's absurd because they both took PED's and there shouldn't even be a discussion based on that. One guy is nice and the other is an asshole. That's mostly how I feel that the media views the difference in Pettitte and A-Rod, no matter how often they protest otherwise.
There is no disconnect at work here. Saying Pettitte and Rodriguez are the same is a false equivalency.
A false equivalency is defined as, "a situation where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none." It's based on measuring different information the exact same way and oversimplification of this information. Pettitte was busted one time for PED use and is seen as good guy. A-Rod was busted twice for PED use and is an asshole. The difference in these two situations are that one player got busted once more than the other player and is seen as an asshole. I'm not sure that means the end result, that both players cheated and should be treated the same way, is a false equivalency or not. Nelson Cruz got busted one time for PED's and he's a pretty nice guy from all appearances. So should he be treated in the same manner that Andy Pettitte is treated, like a nice guy who just a made a mistake? If so, someone alert the media they are treating Cruz as a PED user when they shouldn't be.
Pettitte isn't just getting a Nice Guy discount because the Yankees announced a few days ago that they're retiring his number and giving him a plaque in Monument Park, two honors that A-Rod will never experience in New York.
A-Rod's habitual PED recidivism, lying and character assassination attempts against his accusers make Pettitte's PED use look like a fender bender.
Pettitte isn't getting a Nice Guy discount, it's just A-Rod is so much more of an asshole compared to Pettitte that he should be treated more harshly than Pettitte is treated. Got it. There's no Nice Guy discount because it's called something else. It's not like Pettitte had conflicting testimony when brought up on the stand to accuse his friend Roger Clemens of HGH use. If A-Rod would only misremember some things then maybe he wouldn't assassinate so many people's character.
Pettitte's actions aren't totally excusable, but again, they hardly rise to the level of what A-Rod finally admitted to, or how he's continued to exacerbate his problems with clumsy grabs for the forgiveness Pettitte has enjoyed because of how he behaved before and after he was exposed.
But remember, Pettitte is not getting a Nice Guy discount. Not at all. His actions regarding the use of PED's gets some forgiveness from the media because Pettitte acted kindly before and after he was exposed. Again, it's not a Nice Guy discount if you just call it something else.
A-Rod's latest stunt, the handwritten apology letter he released Tuesday, instantly led to photos of mock letters being posted on Twitter with handwritten lines like, "Sorry! I got caught!"
An apology is only as sincere as the audience wants it to be. People want to believe Pettitte, so they do believe he is sincere.
Yankees management is giving Pettitte a pass for his PED use, which Pettitte has always insisted was a one-time mistake. He's said he did it only to rehab an injury so he could hurry back to help the team, and you can choose to accept that or not.
And intent apparently matters now. Pettitte was trying to enhance his performance to help the team, while A-Rod enhanced his performance to help himself hit home runs, none of which counted as helping the Yankees team in any way. This is a kind of funny argument since intent really shouldn't matter and either way the player helps the team by helping himself. The only difference is how the media wants to shade the apology and the reason given in the apology.
But let's be completely frank and grown-up here.
Oh, it's super-serious time. I'll put my Serious Face on when talking about the Nice Guy discount that doesn't exist by the name "Nice Guy discount."
The decision to not disqualify Pettitte because of his PED use isn't really an enormous shift for the team.
The Yankees profited greatly from employing a large cast of other PED users during the steroid era such as Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Chuck Knoblauch, and Mike Stanton. The Mitchell report and BALCO trials revealed that.
Regardless of whether it is an enormous shift in how the team works or not, none of these players are represented in Monument Park like Andy Pettitte will be. No matter how hard Johnette Howard tries to differentiate Pettitte from A-Rod or claim that Pettitte isn't being treated differently despite being a PED user, the facts simply don't represent Pettitte as being as different as she claims him to be.
The Yankees profited from PED users, but Pettitte is the only one in Monument Park. Pettitte used PED's "to help the team," but his intent shouldn't matter, because A-Rod's PED use helped the team as well. It's just he doesn't hide behind the "it's for others, not me, because I felt a huge obligation to help my teammates out" excuse. The sports media wouldn't buy it anyway when this excuse came from A-Rod.
The Yankees' ethical squishiness on PED use is nothing new. Nor was it unique in baseball during the steroid era. Or since.
Oh, so now everyone was doing it, so it's not such a big deal if Pettitte took part as well. I guess everyone quit using PED's around the time A-Rod started using them. That's just like A-Rod, he's so detached from reality that he doesn't know it isn't cool to use PED's anymore.
The Yanks signed Giambi -- McGwire's and Jose Canseco's former training pal with the Oakland A's -- to a $120 million contract seven months before Caminiti's tell-all.
Is Jason Giambi in Monument Park? He isn't? So how is Pettitte not being treated differently from other PED users again? He was a Yankee for a longer span of time than Clemens and is closely tied to the organization, but Johnette Howard is trying to draw a firm line as to why Pettitte isn't being treated differently as a PED user for any other reason than he's a nice guy. She's only going to prove the point that he is treated a little differently, because every other PED user she has mentioned is being treated differently by the media and the Yankees than Pettitte has been treated.
Yet when asked directly at Giambi's mea culpa news conference if possible steroid use by Giambi was ever part of discussions about whether to sign him to such an enormous deal, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said no, no, the issue "wasn't in the winds" back then.
So really, it is the fault of the Yankees organization that Pettitte used PED's. They created an atmosphere where taking PED's was acceptable, so naturally
A-Rod, who played with Caminiti in Texas in 2001, one of several Rangers teams that might've had one of the greatest collections of juicers of all time (Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, et al.), was already with the Yanks for one season when Caminiti's SI story came out. But that didn't stop the Yanks from buying the storyline that A-Rod was the exception, The Last Natural, when they first traded for him, or when they re-signed him to the $275 million deal they're now stuck with.
This is some revisionist history right here. There was nothing tying A-Rod to PED's prior to his being traded to the Yankees. That Caminiti story from "SI" came out in 2002 according to the "Sports Illustrated" site. A-Rod joined the Yankees in 2004, so he was not with the team when that story came out. Good effort, good job. Who cares about facts when there is an opinion needs to be proven correct?
But remember this, too, about that Nice Guy premium Pettitte is getting vs. A-Rod: Contrary to the bitterness Knoblauch expressed on Twitter on Monday about Pettitte's kid-glove treatment by the Yanks, the Yankees actually have treated Pettitte poorly in the past.
Oh, so the Yankees ARE giving Pettitte a Nice Guy discount now? Previously in this column they weren't doing this, but now they are. But it's okay for him to get the Nice Guy discount because the Yankees were mean to Pettitte one time, so that means...umm...well, actually I'm not sure what the hell it has to do with the present discussion about how Pettitte isn't like A-Rod for reasons that supposedly have nothing to do with Pettitte being a nice guy.
It hasn't been all rainbows and syrupy sentimentalism.
But two facts remain that Pettitte is being given a plaque in Monument Park and he did use PED's. So the fact his relationship with the Yankees hasn't been all rainbows and syrupy sentimentalism has nothing to do with the difference in how he and A-Rod are treated.
In 2003, the team let Pettitte walk off to Houston years before his PED use ever surfaced.
Johnette Howard moves those goal posts again. She doesn't seem to know when the Caminiti story came out in "Sports Illustrated" and then describes the Yankees as having let Pettitte go to Houston "years" before his PED use ever surfaced. Let's pretend for a second that there is an even playing field. Pettitte went to Houston in 2003 which was "years" from his being found out for using PED's in December 2007. A-Rod started playing for the Yankees in 2004 and his PED use came to light originally in July 2007, but proof of his PED use wasn't public until February 2009.
So Howard thinks four years is "years" before Pettitte's PED use surfaced, while being kind and saying Jose Canseco's suggestion A-Rod used PED's served as proof at the time, it was three years before A-Rod's PED use surfaced. In reality, it was five years. So Howard thinks the Yankees should have known about A-Rod's PED use three years before it became public when trading for him, despite the fact he had never used PED's while a member of the Yankees until that point, but gives the Yankees credit for getting rid of Pettitte because it was "years" before his PED surfaced. Of course Howard doesn't expect the Yankees should have known Pettitte used PED's while a member of the Yankees team. Naturally. The Yankees should have been on to a guy who didn't even play for them as a PED user, but how would they ever know one of their current players had used PED's? Three years prior to information becoming public means that information should have been known in the case of A-Rod, while four years is "years" in the case of Pettitte. She just keeps moving the goal posts all around the field.
Pettitte had just won 21 games and already had a clutch reputation. Yet the Yankees asked him to take a pay cut -- a pay cut! -- from $11.5 million to $10 million a year. George Steinbrenner was still around and vital then, and The Boss personally negotiated deals with career-long bad boys like David Wells and Sheffield. Yet Pettitte didn't hear from the Yanks for six weeks after their initial offer.
Johnette Howard can try to muddy the water all she wants. The bottom line is that Pettitte has a plaque in Monument Park and he used PED's. He's being treated differently from A-Rod and most of it has to do with his reputation versus A-Rod's reputation. She can deny this all she wants, but the only differences in A-Rod and Pettitte are their reputations, their supposed intent for taking PED's, and A-Rod has been busted twice not once. They both used PED's. She can mealy-mouth around it all she wants, but Pettitte has a better reputation as a nice guy and that helps him tremendously.
Even their final offer asked him to accept $5.1 million less in guaranteed money to stay with them rather than go home to play for Houston -- a risk he wasn't willing to take.
In short, the Yanks gave Pettitte the same unsentimental treatment that Giambi and A-Rod got when the team explored voiding the millions left on their ill-gotten contracts, and that Joe Torre got with the one-year contract extension offer that left him so "insulted" he left to manage the Dodgers.
Only a person with an agenda could really write with a straight face that offering a new contract to a pitcher that involves taking $5.1 million less in guaranteed money than another team is offering is the same thing as a team trying to void $61 million of another player's contract. These are two completely different things. The Yankees were offering Pettitte a contract with $5.1 million less money, while they were trying to take $61 million away from A-Rod. Ignoring they offered a contract to one player and was voiding a contract from another, I think the difference of $55.9 million in the money (attempting to be) voided from A-Rod's contract shows the difference in these two situations. Again, Johnette Howard is trying so hard to differentiate and it's not working.
Even Jeter was publicly told to "smoke the reality pipe" by an unnamed Yankees official during his last contract talks.
Keep moving those goal posts. The issue isn't whether the Yankees have ever been mean to Andy Pettitte. The issue is whether A-Rod and Andy Pettitte, both PED users, are being treated the same way by the Yankees organization. The answer is they are not. What has been said in contract negotiations is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Pettitte and A-Rod admitted to using PED's and Pettitte is getting a plaque while A-Rod is fighting to avoid his contract from getting voided.
All of it is also influenced by the fact that Pettitte and A-Rod are dramatically different men and they handled being caught as PED users in significantly different ways.
Remember that Howard insists Pettitte isn't getting a Nice Guy discount when she discusses how each man handled being caught as PED users.
Pettitte held a news conference to make a blanket apology, and sat there till every last question was asked. Then he made the rounds for weeks behind the scenes, personally repeating his apology to one person after another after another. His behavior was impeccable before and since, even when Clemens called him a liar. He didn't cook up some phony lawsuit against the Yanks' team doctor, as A-Rod did, or lie again and again on national TV, smear the reporter who unearthed his PED use, sell out a cousin who is now suing him, or backslide into PED use, as far as anyone knows.
So Pettitte is getting a Nice Guy discount. He apologized correctly and to everyone involved. I get it. His behavior was impeccable and he took responsibility for what he did, except for the fact he's never really taking responsibility for why he took HGH. He's hidden behind the whole "I was trying to help the team and took HGH to recover from injury" reasoning, as if this is more noble than simply taking PED's to improve one's performance. Good for him, I bear no ill will that he uses this reasoning. Pettitte has only come as clean as he's needed to come clean and as much as the media has made him come clean. Pettitte claimed after the Mitchell Report came out that he took PED's for a couple of days in 2002. Then when he was in front of Congress and they provided examples of his additional PED use, he admitted while under oath that he used them again in 2004. So he didn't lie, unless you want to count withholding information as lying. He didn't cook up a phony lawsuit, despite the fact he consistently has hidden behind a phony story that plays on the media's need to show him as a good guy. He did use PED's to help the team and come back from injury, while A-Rod used PED's to improve his performance. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
People sometimes do make grievous mistakes in life. Pettitte's story, until proved otherwise, is he cheated, then asked for forgiveness, and earned it with his actions. Meanwhile, A-Rod keeps setting himself up to be seen as an incorrigible fraud.
I understand one of the differences is that A-Rod has been busted twice for PED use. Of course, Pettitte admits to using PED's twice himself, but really only got busted once. Maybe A-Rod hasn't earned forgiveness, but the media and MLB didn't come at Andy Pettitte as hard as they have come after A-Rod. So Howard takes offense to the idea A-Rod and Pettitte should be treated the same, but not because Pettitte is seen as a nice guy, but because of Pettitte's nice guy actions. No wonder she likes Pettitte so much, she's his target audience for the "I used HGH to help the team, not myself" excuse. She wants to believe Pettitte was pure of heart in his actions.
And now, all of that has determined how each man is treated?
But the bottom line is that they are both PED users, while Pettitte is being forgiven because he's a nice guy who apologized the right way. He's getting a plaque in Monument Park even though he admitted to using PED's. There is no other reason other than him being a nice guy and the media wanting to believe him that he is treated as he is treated compared to other PED users. I have to wonder if A-Rod had written his letter of apology after the first time he was busted for using PED's if he would be treated the same as Pettitte. I think I know the answer.