Bronx–Perhaps you heard something about Andy Pettite’s official metamorphosis from from guy-who-retired-on-top to just-another-guy-hanging-on-too-long. Not that I blame him, and of course as a Yankee fan I hope it works out. Though the odds are not with him there are a few successful precedents.
Mario Limieux: Super Mario beat cancer like a koopa troopa, beat back surgery like Bowser, retired in 1997 only to come back as an owner/player in 2000 and lead the team in scoring the rest season while leading them oh-so-close to the Cup Finals. He was relatively unremarkable on the ice after that, but as owner he beat the Penguin creditors like Donkey Kong, and has miraculously managed to keep the team in Pittsburgh. Seems like enough stuff for three lifetimes, and the guy is still only 46. Pettitte wears number 46, but he’s not even 40 yet so he’s got some time.
Michael Jordan: Jordan may not have been the first star player to retire and then return, but he may be the poster child for the big “I”m back!” announcement that hanger-on athletes have done ever since. He did it twice, the first retirement ending when he couldn’t hit a curveball in double-A ball, the second when he returned to the purgatory of playing for Washington in 2001 (albeit with good intentions, donating his salary in the wake of 9/11). Since then it’s been Hitler mustaches and Haynes commercials with Charlie Sheen…not to mention a less than noteworthy ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats. Retirement can be a bitch…more reason for Andy to return.
Lance Armstrong: Had to retire to beat cancer in 1995, then came back for an unprecedented and convincing seven Tour de France titles in a row (while not so convincingly battling doping accusations). Retired and again came back in 2009 to much fanfare, and a crash that broke his collarbone. Still, he finished 3rd in the Tour that year, and helped Team Radio Shack win the team competition the next before officially retiring for the easy life of running Iron Mans. That sounds like hell, better to be back pitching a baseball every five days.
George Foreman: Pugilists more or less own the retired/not-retired trope, seemingly none of them able to sit idly on their hands when they could be getting the crap pounded out of them in a ring again…but even so George Foreman stands out. Not only did he go nearly a decade of retirement before coming back and shocking the world by winning the Heavyweight title at 45, he radically changed his image from menacing bruiser to lovable bald buddy. If you can think of a better way to make your name synonymous with an electric griddle, I’d like to hear it…get ready for the Andy Pettitte Sausage Maker.
Brett Favre: Pretty much nobody has abused the tearful farewell/I’m back flip like Favre, who successfully set the record for most times ending a career with a terrible interception. Avoid this, Andy.
Guy LeFleur: LeFleur unretired back in the 1980s, before it was hip, and after he was already in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Still, he acquitted himself pretty well, and ended up playing for my favorite team, the Quebec Nordiques, presumably because they had the best uniforms on any sport. Pettitte’s Yankee uniform is a close second.
Roger Clemens: Texan. Yankee. Astro. Yankee again. Retired. Returned. There might be other parallels, but I’m misrembering.
Pettitte left with an uneven line in his comeback against Angry Ward’s Mariners, yesterday. He allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks over 6+ innings in a loss. Not Jordan’s 50 vs the Knicks but not bad.
Grote2DMax, who hopefully won’t be retiring anytime soon, up tomorrow.