I was in attendance for Andy Pettitte day yesterday at Yankee Stadium, and it was a huge day of mixed emotions. It certainly started off with a bang with the Pettitte ceremony. It was awesome, even if the crowd again gave a bigger applause to Derek Jeter just like they did on Saturday to Jorge Posada, which was annoying. To see your whole childhood out there on that field really makes you remember why you fell in love with this game and franchise. I even learned some things I didn't know, like how Pettitte used to throw a knuckle ball. It was very cool stuff.
Then the game happened and it was a train wreck. Sure, a 4-3 game doesn't seem so bad, yet it was the most excruciating Yankees game I've ever been to. There were 16 combined walks and the Yankees struck out 11 times. The umpiring seemed crazy inconsistent from what I could tell in my seats in right field. The Indians made countless errors and the Yankees could just never take advantage. Trevor Bauer was struggling badly coming in and could not find the strike zone, and yet the Yankees could not do anything against him. CC Sabathia was getting creamed, and Branden Pinder could not throw a strike to save his life. It seemed like there was a meeting at the mound every two minutes. I was at the game earlier this year when Masahiro Tanaka got bombed by the Tigers, and this was much worse to sit through.
Earlier in the week when the Yankees slotted Bryan Mitchell into the rotation, I knew it would mean I would be seeing Sabathia instead of Nathan Eovaldi. This was certainly bad news and I was not thrilled about it, and that feeling sucked because of what Sabathia has meant to this franchise. It wasn't too long ago when you wanted to go see a Sabathia start.
However, the truth is sometimes painful in life, and Andrew Marchand's story on ESPN New York last night was correct. The Yankees are much better off without Sabathia. If they still want to use a six-man rotation, Mitchelll would give them a better chance to win. If they do not, then the other five guys in the rotation are better options than CC. It's very hard to write that. Sabathia lead the team to its last championship in 2009. He was everything an ace was supposed to be on and off the field during his first contract. Not many players in that clubhouse want to succeed as much as him. His teammates have his back at every turn because of how he has theirs.
Unfortunately, his body gave out on him like it does to everybody at some point in life. Who knows how much Sabathia's knee has been bothering him all year, but it certainly seems like he was protecting it all year before finally letting loose in these last few starts when he threw harder and pitched better. Of course, it only took a few outings before that knee failed him again.
I just hope I wasn't at Yankee Stadium for the symbolic end of Sabathia's great Yankees career. A day that was supposed to be for celebrating a Yankee great may also be remembered for another one's final stand.