A little off the topic of the Nats, Mike Mussina announced his retirement. He was a personal favorite of mine, and that’s why we all like baseball – because there are certain players that we enjoy watching do their thing. Some people will say he isn’t a Hall of Famer, after all, he didn’t win any Cy Young awards. Here are a few reasons why they’re wrong:
- 100 games over .500 – 20 pitchers have done that ever, 16 are in the Hall of Fame, the other 4 are Mussina, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson
- 19th all time in Strikeouts, with 2813 Ks
- 13th all time in K/BB ratio with 3.83
- Four 1 hit shutouts, 2 of them broken up in the 9th
- .638 winning percentage – 38th all time
- Only 5 pitchers have more wins than him and a better winning percentage – Christy Mathewson, Lefty Grove, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Clemens, and Johnson
- He’s a 7 time gold glove winner – and considered the best fielding pitcher in his league for much of his career
- Top 6 AL Cy Young votegetter 9 times
- His 23 shutouts are 4th among active pitchers – behind only Johnson, Maddux, and Glavine
- One of only 6 pitchers to have 17 or more 10-win seasons (Others are Maddux, and HOFers Cy Young, Don Sutton, Warren Spahn, and Steve Carlton)
- His numbers put him there anyway, but on top of it all, he pitched in the tough AL East, with a DH, and in a bad pitchers park during his prime
- The way that 12-6 curveball moved. Every high school baseball player should study that
- Joe Posnanski thinks so in a great article comparing Moose to a great HOFer
I went to a Mets-Yankees game, July 30, 2006. Mussina came in and was impressive. Through 4 innings, he had pitched a beautiful game, with 4 Ks, no walks and no hits. Other than an error committed by Miguel Cairo, he would have been perfect through 4. It rained, and there ended up being an hour delay. When the game resumed, he was replaced by Ron is the Villone-liest number, who ended up with the win. I never thought I was going to see Moose’s only no-hitter. It was too early, and besides, he was always the almost there guy. He pitched three 2 hit shutouts (10/1/95) (5/5/93) and (9/24/02). He had a 1 hit shutout with the one hit coming in the 5th (7/17/92), another one in the 7th (8/1/01), and one broken up after 8 1/3 by Sandy Alomar (5/30/97). And then there was the one I remember watching on TV, and the closest he ever came – an 8 2/3 inning no-no broken up by pinch hitter Carl Everett at Boston on 9/2/2001 (final line: 9 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 13 K). I swear I heard Boston fans booing that hit.
O’s fans may remember him leaving, while the team was crumbling around him, but they should also remember his performance in the 1997 playoffs. After starting and winning 2 games in the ALDS, he pitched better in the ALCS. 7 innings in game 3, gave up 1 run… and lost. The vaunted O’s offense couldn’t score for him in the deciding game 6, where he pitched 8 innings, let 3 runners reach base, struck out 10, and didn’t allow a run to score. They lost in the 11th, 1-0.
What most Yankee fans will probably remember him for is one game – a game he didn’t start.In the 2003 ALCS, he struggled in game l, allowing 4 runs in 5 2/3. Game 4 was better – 3 runs in 6 2/3, with 10 Ks, but he still got the loss. In game 7, Roger Clemens gave up 4 runs in 3+ IP, and the Yankees looked like they were going to be demolished by a good Red Sox team. Torre pulled Clemens in the 4th and put in Moose with runners on the corners with no outs. He struck out Varitek (this was back when he could hit) and then got Damon to ground into a double play. Then he pitched 2 more innings and didn’t allow a run the whole time. The Yankees, down 4-0, came back after a famous Grady Little/Pedro Martinez conversation, and won it in the 11th after Aaron Boone tattooed a ball to left field. Rivera ended up with the win, and Mussina probably deserved a save or something.
He could pitch for three more years, and be almost guaranteed 300 wins, especially if he moved to the NL. He could strike out another 130 or 140 a year, bringing his total up over 3200 to put him in 12th place all time. Throw in a 4th year – with his velocity-less success this season I have no doubt he could do it – and he’d get to #10 all time. But those counting numbers would just be add-ons. He’s already had a HOF career.
And Another Thing Vonnegut…
Something that isn’t getting much coverage is the Mariner’s hiring of thier new manager Don Wakamatsu. He will be the first Asian American MLB manager. This doesn’t get the kind of screaming headlines that the hiring of the first African American or Latino manager did, and there are probably certain reasons for that. I am not sure what they are, and this is not the place to speculate on it. I just wanted to point it out, and as Asians and Asian Americans are becoming a bigger and bigger part of MLB, this is a pretty cool and definitely historic moment.