Lift your head up Andy...
As you know, I've been paying close attention to the Major League Baseball performance enhancing drugs saga, particularly the latest with Roger Clemens. Why does it all matter? For good or bad, professional sports figures have a tremendous influence in our culture, especially upon young kids, particularly boys. I have three boys. Furthermore, professional sports serve as a microcosm of our culture. Short cuts, a win at all costs mentality, cheating, sinful pride, lying, slander, and foolish health decisions are all important matters to be concerned with and issues Christians must work to see redeemed by applying the salt of Christ. Andy Pettitte told the truth in his deposition before congressional lawyers a couple weeks ago and humbly put himself before the media and American public yesterday to confess, apologize, and talk openly about what he had done wrong concerning taking HGH.
This recent trial in baseball brings up universal realities about sin that only Christians have the power to genuinely confront. People err, sin, and make poor decisions. No one escapes being a sinful person. Only the forgiveness of Christ shown to a person allows that same person to extend forgiveness to others and ask for it themselves when the situation calls for it. Most such cases in professional sports involve unbelieving people so we shouldn't be too surprised with self-preserving lies and tactics to cover themselves. It's disheartening, but total depravity is what it is, so to speak. In cases where the offending professional athelete is a believer, like Andy Pettitte, there is an opportunity for public confession, repentance, restitution, and hopefully, restoration. The Mitchell Report revealed Pettitte was guilty of taking HGH. There was a huge opportunity to show forth Christ and praise God, Pettitte did just that. Pettitte is known to be a Christian around MLB and his teammates recognize him as a genuine believer and faithful teammate. If Pettitte had never erred in this way he would have been remembered as a strong witness for Christ for sure. However, in God's providence and by His grace, having erred and confessed so humbly as he did, I think his witness and "salt effect" on the culture of the game will be even more powerful.
Now, as a brief excursus, but related to Pettitte's need to call a press conference- I believe Andy Pettitte's recollection of a Clemens 1999 comment seeming to admit using HGH is very damning. I watched the entire hearing and read all 104 pages of Pettitte's deposition. Putting them together, I am left to conclude that Clemens is probably lying. I know for those who were pre-disposed to not believe Clemens it didn't take much to confirm their hopes and suspicions, they made their judgment a while ago. For me, it depended heavily on Pettitte's testimony as Brian McNamee is not trustworthy and there are no other eyewitnesses to Clemens supposed usage. Pettitte was a close friend who spent hours training and hanging with Clemens for the past 9 years. Surely if anyone besides McNamee knew the truth, it would be Pettitte.
It is important to note, Pettitte says very little about his knowledge of Clemens taking any drugs or vitamins. In his deposition he stated that Roger mentioned using HGH in 1999, but they did not discuss the matter further, in fact, Pettitte wasn't very sure of what HGH was. Clemens never mentioned using steroids to Pettitte, ever. According to Pettitte the two never discussed HGH again until 2005 when the Bonds case was starting bringing heat and MLB banned HGH and steroids. Pettitte had taken HGH very briefly twice, in 2002 and 2004, both times to come back from elbow injuries. Anticipating questions about his own use, Pettitte asked Clemens what he was going to say if asked about HGH. Clemens allegedly retorted- "I never said I used HGH". He told Pettitte that his wife had used the stuff, but he didn't. In the deposition Pettitte was sure he heard Clemens right in 1999 and was confused as to why Roger changed his story in 2005. So it is, Pettitte testified that he heard Clemens confess HGH use. I do find it amazing that Pettitte only heard Clemens mention using once in 9 years of training and hanging out together. Further, Pettitte never saw Clemens use anything. I was actually hoping for a more definitive testimony from Pettitte, but what he did say is damning due to Clemens adamant denial of any use whatsoever. I'm hanging tight for a while longer to make my final judgment on Roger, but I'm leaning toward believing he's a liar of the worst kind. (end of excursus)
Unlike people like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Eric Gagne, and Miguel Tejada, Pettitte was willing to sit down, spell out what he did wrong, make no excuses, and ask forgiveness. That's what I'm talking about! The humble way in which he put himself before the public and told the truth has honored His Savior, will eventually afford him sound sleep (he may have more testifying to do) allow him to look at his family with no shame, and be a credible witness for Christ before the watching world. I was particularly impressed with his Yankee teammates who came to support him- Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera. The latter two players also profess faith in Christ.
This whole "Steroids Era" has been a blight on baseball and American culture in general. Andy Pettitte's personal response serves as an example of what applying salt means for Christians. Applying salt isn't just about confronting the sin of a culture, it's about confronting our own sin with the confidence of the gospel in full view of the culture. I think Andy Pettitte's actions give a small picture of what can and should be done by the followers of Christ in our world today. I call it an example of "applying salt".