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SportsColumnists

Davidoff's MLB Insider: Ignoring Rocket's blast

Roger Clemens leaves federal court in Washington after

Roger Clemens leaves federal court in Washington after pleading not guilty to charges of lying to Congress about whether he used steroids or human growth hormone. His attorney Rusty Hardin is at left. (Aug. 30, 2010) Credit: AP

Ignoring the Rocket's Blast?

Andy Pettitte has it down to a science by now. For the fifth straight year, he'll finish a baseball season, return home to suburban Houston and - with no contractual commitment - contemplate his professional future.

"I don't really know any other way," Pettitte said in an interview Thursday. "Think about stuff, pray about stuff, do what I feel is the right thing to do in my gut."

An additional factor will be in play this winter for Pettitte: He will have to prepare for his participation in the United States government's indictment of Roger Clemens. Jury selection is scheduled to start April 5, 2011, and Pettitte - and possibly his wife, Laura - figures to be a star witness for the prosecution. The Pettittes signed an affidavit in 2008 that Clemens told Pettitte (in 1999 or 2000) about his HGH usage.

If Pettitte plays next season, he could face a scenario in which 1) he'd have to leave his team for a short period of time to testify in Washington; 2) he'd bring unwanted attention to his team; and 3) he could face additional questions about his character, as Clemens' attorneys surely will aggressively try to discredit him.

So I asked Pettitte if the Clemens case will impact his baseball future.

"That would have absolutely nothing to do with my decision," he said. "Nothing. There's nothing in that situation that I have to do that's not already been done. There's no news coming out. That's nothing. That has no bearing at all. It's nothing new."

Well, that's pretty definitive. In any case, Pettitte, who turned 38 in June, vows that if he's not quite done, there's not much longer to go.

"I know I'm not going to be playing at age 40. I know that," he said. "So there's just things I know I promised myself that I wouldn't let happen [regarding family time]. And those things would happen if I kept playing."

Trend-following Twins?

The Twins have additional historical motivation to win it all this season. If they prevail in the World Series, they'll become the fourth team - after the 1912 Red Sox, 2006 Cardinals and 2009 Yankees - to capture the championship in the first year of a new ballpark.

"The Yankees won last year in their new ballpark," Twins general manager Bill Smith wrote in an e-mail. "We hope to continue the trend at Target Field in 2010!"

 

 

 

Historical perspective

Ken Burns' original "Baseball" documentary came out in 1994, in nine "innings," and Burns didn't care if he ever got back to exploring the sport.

But then the game experienced a most memorable stretch - remember all of those home runs and the subsequent scandals? - and "we just had to deal with it," Burns said this past week in a telephone interview.

"The Tenth Inning" will air Tuesday and Wednesday on PBS, and Burns said he tried to put baseball's Steroids Era in its proper context.

"I don't see it as the first- or even the second-greatest threat to baseball," he said. "If I had to rank them, it would be that keeping African-Americans out of the game for six or seven decades was the single greatest threat to the integrity of the game. And then the gambling scandal that was epitomized by the 1919 Black Sox scandal. And then I would put steroids third among these things."

 

 

Stan the Mets' man?

Wow, would Stan Kasten be a terrific fit for the Mets. Kasten, who just stepped down as the Nationals' president, would bring experience, gravitas and New York savvy to the job; he attended the Yeshiva High School for Boys in Manhattan's Washington Heights area.

It doesn't seem likely, though. Said one person, on the condition of anonymity, who knows Kasten well: "I'm betting he's very selective about his next spot."

With Major League Baseball COO Bob DuPuy reportedly preparing to step down from baseball's number two job, Kasten could very well be a candidate for that post, as he has an excellent relationship with commissioner Bud Selig.

New York Sports