Yankees cornerstone Pettitte defined by single-minded focus
During the past few days,
Pettitte undoubtedly contains multitudes of his own, as the fact that he is a Christian, a father and a self-admitted former user of Human Growth Hormone suggests. Whereas Martinez, though, now likes to maintain his Whitman act everywhere, even on the field during the World Series -- late Thursday night he recounted how he asked a fan who was guzzling beer and screaming expletives while in holding his daughter in one arm, "How can you be so dumb?" -- when Pettitte is on the mound, as Jeter says, he likes to be one thing, and one thing only, especially this time of year.
While Martinez thrives off the noise and the chaos -- and off all the different people, places and things that are "his daddy" -- Pettitte succeeds by blocking all of those things out. Before Friday's workout in Philadelphia, someone asked Pettitte why he always wears his hat pulled down so low. "I'm almost sure it started in the minor leagues," he said. "I wanted to just see the mitt, and narrow the window down. Sometimes I would see other things. Sometimes I'd pick up people in the stands behind the catcher and stuff like that. I just wanted to simplify it as much as I can and just see the mitt and try to see my ball going to where I want it, almost visualizing the pitches before I throw them. Really, for me, that's where it all came from, just honing in on where I'm trying to get that ball to go to."
That single-minded focus on the task at hand has always defined Pettitte, who has never had the electrifying stuff of Martinez but who has ten more career wins. It has allowed him to minimize the effects of age: Pettitte turned 37 in June, and even as some of his youthful athletic ability has left him, his final statistics from this season don't look so very different from those with which he finished ten and eleven years ago.
It is also what compelled Yankees general manager
Pettitte's World Series track record, says Jeter, represents just one of the many reasons why the Yankees are fortunate that Cashman was able to woo him back. "You saw the reasons all season," says Jeter. "Then you saw them against the Twins [in the ALDS], and you saw them against the Angels [in the ALCS]."
But after Pettitte throws his first pitch as Saturday night's Game 3 starter, he will have participated in eight Fall Classics -- he already ranks ninth all time in World Series innings pitched (66), ahead of
On Saturday night, pitching against the Phillies'