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The wronged man

Why is Pettitte under fire for doing the right thing?

Posted: Monday February 18, 2008 7:32PM; Updated: Tuesday February 19, 2008 3:03PM
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Andy Pettitte apologized to the Yankees, the Astros and his fans for the
Andy Pettitte apologized to the Yankees, the Astros and his fans for the "embarrassment" he caused them by taking HGH.
Robert Browman/Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. -- I keep hearing this idea from fans about how Andy Pettitte wronged Roger Clemens by telling the truth to Congress about their now infamous HGH conversation of 1999. They think Pettitte should have conveniently "forgotten'' that conversation, as if lying under oath is the right route.

And I can think of no bigger crock than that.

If anyone wronged anyone here, Clemens is the one who wronged Pettitte.

Just like Clemens is the one who wronged the trainer, Brian McNamee, if anyone still cares about that poor sap.

If Pettitte has made any major mistake in life, it was in idolizing the wrong man. Petttitte's biggest sin was in his blind respect and reverence for Clemens, a big pitcher and even bigger egomaniac.

And apparently, Pettitte still reveres Clemens. Even after all he's been put through, he still admires the man.

Even Monday, a day Pettitte apologized profusely to George Steinbrenner, all his fans and everyone else he could think of for becoming embroiled in the performance-enhancing scandal and becoming a spring distraction, he still mentioned his "admiration'' for Clemens. "I love him like a brother,'' Pettitte said about Clemens.

And Pettitte declined to blast Clemens for dragging him and half his family into this mess by insisting on his crazy day in court. Pettitte said he "obviously has feelings about that,'' but refused to get into them.

Whatever, Clemens is the one who stuck it to Pettitte, not the other way around.

Just like Clemens is the one who stuck it to his own wife, Debbie. And to Pettitte's father, Tom. And to the trainer, McNamee. And to his agents, who surely told him he was in the Mitchell Report, no matter what Clemens says now.

Heck, Clemens even somehow saw fit to stick it to Bud Selig.

Clemens is a one-megalomaniac wrecking crew here.

It didn't have to be this way.

If Clemens had simply affirmed what McNamee said about him in the Mitchell Report, just as Pettitte and even party boy Chuck Knoblauch did, rather than to promote his cockamamie story of non use, it all would have been over long ago.

If Clemens had simply told the truth, as Pettitte did, there wouldn't have been any hearings. And Pettitte wouldn't have been put in this impossible spot between two close longtime allies, Clemens and McNamee.

"I've been friends with Roger and Mack a long time,'' Pettitte said in his news conference. "I never wanted to take sides. But I only had to be honest. I was under oath. So I was just as honest as can be with the committee.''

Sure, he was. Pettitte understood that under oath meant he could go to jail if he lied. Pettitte isn't perfect, but he is no liar. And he shouldn't have to go to jail for his cheatin' buddy.

Pettitte is a good man who made a terrible decision to follow his idol. He tried HGH at his weakest moment, when his elbow was killing him in 2002, three years after Clemens told him he took HGH, then tried it again two years later, after the elbow flared up again. He saw it as catching up, not getting an edge. He knew it was illegal but justified it as not being banned by baseball at the time.

He understands doctors should write prescriptions for drugs like these. He knows he did wrong.

Petttitte maintained he doesn't consider himself a cheater. I'd say he cheated when he took the HGH. But he's no Giambi or Canseco or Bonds or Clemens. He's a good man who got desperate and foolish, not someone who built a career artificially.

Pettitte was questioned in his deposition about whether he took the HGH because Clemens had done so, and Pettitte said no. He took the bullet there. He said it was his call, and his call alone. He said the "three-year gap'' between the '99 conversation and his decision to use HGH proves Clemens' words had nothing to do with it. But I am not so sure.

If anyone had these two guys pegged, believe it or not, it was McNamee. Pettitte's deposition revealed that McNamee advised Pettitte against taking HGH because he wasn't sure Pettitte could live with himself if he did. And he does appear to be paying now.

As for Clemens, McNamee kept those used and bloody syringes and gauze pads. Because he just knew that push comes to shove, Clemens would try to shove anyone in his way.

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