Pissing Off the Baseball Gods Vol. XI: Seduction of a Yankee

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February 11, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Baseball is an incredibly superstitious sport; from players such as Wade Boggs and Justin Verlander, and instances like a black cat walking across Ron Santo in the one deck circle, it’s a sport that is steeped in superstition as much as it is rooted in tradition.  The reason for such is that much the same way that the course of the NBA is dictated by David Stern, the MLB is governed by the baseball gods.  They are the committee that controls the flow of the game and the outcome of events.  Like the gods of ancient mythology however, they are not infallible and from time to time have been stymied by the actions of a certain player or team.  As such, there comes a price for crossing the gods and their plans for baseball.

Pissing Off the Baseball Gods: is a 30 part anthology wherein I will go through each of the 30 franchises in the MLB and give an example of how they crossed the baseball gods, and give the ensuing penalty that arose from their transgression.  Essentially, a gigantic dose of karma, each team has had to pay for a victory they shouldn’t have had, or having unfavorable players on their team.  Most of the examples provided may seem disassociated and incongruent, but given the superstitious nature of baseball, chances are it’s just the price to pay for pissing off the baseball gods.

There are some players that even though they played for multiple teams will always be associated with just one team.  Even though Carlton Fisk played more games with the Chicago White Sox, he will always be associated with the Red Sox and is in fact a Red Sox as opposed to being a White Sox.  Other examples of such players include Reggie Jackson with the Yankees, Rickey Henderson with the A’s, and Greg Maddux as a Brave.[1]

To a lesser extent, Andy Pettitte is one of those players, one who will be remembered for one team and one team alone.  However, if not for but a small period of time, Pettitte played for another team besides the Yankees.  From 2004-2006, he was a member of the Houston Astros and it’s because of this that Astros fans experienced such a vast amount of heartbreak during those three years.

Andy Pettitte is a rarity of a player: a homegrown Yankee pitching prospect who doesn’t suck.[2]  He was also a key cog in a core group of players that made up baseball’s recent dynasty in the Yankees of the late 90s.  To break up that core roster, and seduce such a vital piece, the gods saw to it that the Astros had to be punished for taking away a franchise player.

Even though the Astros had a loaded team during those three years, they never won a World Series, despite playing in one and going to another NLCS.  In 2004, Andy Pettitte’s season was cut short by an elbow injury, and could only watch helplessly as the Astros blew a 3-2 game lead over arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.  Had he not been injured, there’s little doubt that Pettitte, the pitcher with the most postseason wins could have made a difference in that series.

But alas, the Astros would get sweet revenge a year later by besting those same Cardinals in six games in the NLCS to advance to their first World Series appearance.  The celebrations would be cut short however, as they were soon swept by the Chicago White Sox in one of the most boring World Series of all time.  One year later, the last year that Pettitte spent in Houston, saw the Astros languish to an 82-80 record, missing the playoffs by 1 ½ games behind the loathed St. Louis Cardinals.  Shortly thereafter, Pettitte returned to New York and won another World Series with the Yankees while the Astros have only had one winning season since 2006.

Clearly the gods did not want to see Pettitte leave New York, and would have punished any team who seduced him away from home.  Woe were the Astros for doing such a thing, for breaking up a unique and refreshingly traditional assembly of players.  To a lesser extent, however, the same could be said for the Yankees who stole away Lance Berkman from the Astros in 2010 for hardly anything.  Suffice to say, after the trade the Yankees had a worse record than before the trade, and then went on to lose to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, to prevent them from repeating as world champions.  So it seems that any time a franchise player, or a key part of the team is lured away, the baseball gods will have gripes with it.  Andy Pettitte playing for a team besides the New York Yankees means that something isn’t right with the universe; the gods saw to it that the proper balance in the universe was restored.

Next Week: Texas Rangers


[1] I’m not even a Brave’s fan and I’m pissed off he didn’t go in the Hall of Fame as a Brave.

[2] In fact, he’s a borderline hall of famer.

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