Breaking news: Andy Pettitte is adorable. He’s likable, he’s sweet, he’s honest, and he may just be the victim in all of this MLB performance-enhancing drug mess. Sure, he may have received injections of human growth hormone and been forced to throw his friend and mentor Roger Clemens under the bus, but isn’t he a peach? That’s the takeaway that many viewers and fans were left with after the Yankee pitcher’s hour-long press conference yesterday, during which he answered questions about his own drug experiences but avoided directly contradicting Clemens’s assertion that he “misremembered” a conversation about steroids with the older pitcher. (He did, however, pointedly say that trainer Brian McNamee, who claims to have injected Clemens and Pettitte, “told the truth about me.”) New York’s sports columnists, on the whole, were wildly impressed with Pettitte’s humble, endearing performance — if not entirely sold on his emotional honesty.
• George Vecsey was impressed by Pettitte’s reference to biblical lessons on conscience. “[It’s] a word one does not hear on a daily basis, particularly in the big-time sports mill.” [Times]
• Will Leitch thought the performance was similar to many other vaguely apologetic sports press conferences after past scandals. But he also thought Pettitte was being honest. “He’s completely full of bullshit,” Leitch wrote. “But we nevertheless agree with him, across the board.” [Deadspin]
• Jon Heyman was sympathetic: “If anyone wronged anyone here, Clemens is the one who wronged Pettitte.” [Sports Illustrated]
• So was Jayson Stark: “This was a real person, caught red-handed by the proper authorities, who then did what we wish more of these guys would do: Actually act like a real person. And talk like a real person. And paint a picture, for the world to see, of how an otherwise level-headed human being somehow got sucked into the depths of baseball’s magic-syringe culture.” [ESPN]
• John Harper, as well as many others, thinks that this spells the end for Clemens’s spirited self-defense: “Obviously there is other evidence that makes Clemens look guilty,” Harper wrote. “But in some ways this comes down to who is more believable, Pettitte or Clemens, and at the moment it’s no contest.” [NYDN]
• And Joel Sherman thinks that the worst is still ahead for Honest Andy. “It is obvious now that Hank Steinbrenner wanted Johan Santana — wanted him badly,” Sherman says. “His brother, Hal, and Cashman did not want to give up the necessary prospects or money. Pettitte’s early December revocation of his retirement plans provided the Hal/Cashman alliance the excuse to disembark from Santana talks. So Pettitte cannot go 9-12 with a 5.00 ERA now. That will unleash more than nasty cynicism that Pettitte could not excel without illegal drugs.” [NYP]