Good guys get rewardedNovember 20, 2008
Yesterday, when it became official that Mike Mussina was putting away his knuckle-curve for good, I mentioned to Kerel that I think he doesn’t make it into the Hall of Fame. On WFAN today (listen to .mp3), Mussina said that if he had a vote, he would put himself into the Hall.
I heard Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian on ESPN say today that they would definitely vote for him. This got me thinking and I started looking closely at his numbers and how it stacks up to Mussina’s contemporaries and the all-time greats.
Buster Olney did a great job of providing some statistical highlights but, for me, the one that stood out in his .638 winning percentage after 18 years in the big leagues. Think about that: 18 years, in the steroids era, in the American League East (the toughest division in the DH league), 10 of those years at the Camden Yards bandbox, and ending with the sixth best winning percentage in baseball history.
His career ERA of 3.68, in this hitter’s era, is a startling statistic.
I am starting to think that when you package everything together, the voters will overlook the fact that he never won a ring, only won 20 games once, never won the Cy Young and (arguably) struggled in the playoffs.
Beyond the Cooperstown discussion, I think baseball fans should stop and pay tribute to a real gentleman. As a Yankee fan, I am admittedly biased but I have some of the fondest memories of Moose going to the mound in a big game. Most people will remember the 2001 game in Oakland (the Jeter flip game) when Mussina pitched a gem. Others will look at the almost-perfect game up in Boston on that magical night. Or, the Aaron Boone game when Mussina came out of the pen with the Yanks down 0-4, first and third with no outs, and holding the game in check for three innings.
Me? I’ll remember and celebrate Mussina as an off-the-field role model. Quiet, honest almost to the point of appearing whiny, he was an athlete you could tell your kids to emulate. Smart, always with a thoughtful answer to a question, he was very much liked by the media.
And that, my friends, is why Mussina gets into the Hall of Fame. Baseball writers reward “good guys” when it’s voting time.
Mike Mussina is a good guy who was an asset to the game of baseball. Godspeed Moose.
* Photo credit: New York Times.