Friday, November 21, 2008

The Moose hangs up his spikes

I have made no secret of the fact that I have never been much of a fan of Mike Mussina - until this year, that is. I found his personality a little offputting, and I didn't appreciate his sighing demeanor in postgame interviews, or the way he seemed to criticize his teammates.

But this year, other than that bad pitch to Manny Ramirez, I really enjoyed watching this season of the Moose. And it wasn't just the fact that he had his best year ever. It was that Moose finally seemed to let loose with his personality, and seemed to be more personable than ever before. He was downright likeable, and him winning 20 games proved to be one of the few highlights of this dismal season.

Maybe his friendliness - and his ability to let loose - had to do with him planning on retiring all along. As he told the media yesterday:

"I lied to all of you. I knew that [2008] was going to be my last year from the first day of spring training," Mussina said during Thursday’s conference call to officially announce his retirement. "I didn’t want to make it part of the season. I just wanted it to be baseball season … and just enjoy it."

I'm glad he "lied," if you can call it even that. Better that than the endless "retirement" tour, a la Roger Clemens circa 2003.

Should Moose be in the Hall of Fame? I would say yes, but he shouldn't be a first-year pick.

The Baltimore Sun asks whether if Mussina gets into the HOF, should he be an Oriole or a Yankee. I would say Yankee, not just for him winning 20 games as a Yank, but because of the playoff games and the near-perfect game.

But even if Moose does get into the Hall and as a Bomber, I don't think the Yanks should retire his number. Inconsistent, I know, but given how many Yankee numbers are already retired, I just don't think Mussina merits it.

Coming soon - my thoughts on Prince Hal. But in the meantime, tell us what you think about Mike Mussina.


Jesse said...

It's nice to see him go out on his own terms with his head held high. Not every star manages a graceful exit from adulation of fans much less the grip that mega money can have on a player.

Who would have thought that the acquisitions of Mussina, Giambi and Arod would have led to no additional championships?

Money is a really nice thing to have but as is often said it can't buy love or happiness and apparently it can't buy championships either.

Uncle Mike said...

Hall of Fame? Yes, because he's got the numbers, particularly in this hitting-happy era. With a Yankee cap? Yes, because that was where he achieved the most. Retire the number? No, because it didn't include a title. Plaque in Monument Park II? No, for the same reason. It's not like he transcended the need for championships as did Don Mattingly (already so honored) and Bobby Murcer (as yet, not).

Dave Winfield won a Pennant as a Yankee, but he's not yet honored with a number retirement (and 31 has been given to some true stiffs) or a Plaque. Wade Boggs and Goose Gossage each won a title as a Yankee and got into the Hall, but as yet no Yankee-specific honors. If they don't deserve it, for what they achieved, it's hard to say that Mussina does.

Let's give the Moose a Mike Mussina Day, and let's give him big hands on Old-Timers' Days from now on. He deserves our thanks. But as for packing away Number 35 and putting his Plaque out there, that's a little much.

The Emperor said...

Well, there are some things to really consider when making a pitch for a HOF ballot. I know Moose did not win the traditional 300 games usually required to get into The Hall, but let's examine a few facts that may lend favor to Moose's credentials:

- He exceeded his win total of past years while being well into his late 30's
- He pitched in the American League
- He pitched in the AL East
- He pitched and became very successful during the Steroid Era while he was clean
- He learned how to reinvent himself using intelligence in order to remain dominant

He doesn't have a WS ring, but that's not his fault. The whole team has to win a champtionship together, not just one guy. He did his part.

Yes, he did have some quirky and peculiar habits of bad-mouting his teammates at times and complaining about the weather, and I think that probably has more to do with his meticulous nature than him being arrogant. It sometimes got on peoples' nerves, but when push came to shove, he delivered in situations where a lot of other pitchers and players didn't.

I believe that Moose deserves to be at least mentioned in HOF discussions.

"The Expert" said...

The numbers say Yes, But considering that the Yankees had justwon their 4th World Series in 5 years in 2000 and he came on in 2001 and got boatloads of money and the Yankees went without one with all that payroll, I say he is part of what has cursed the Yankees. So I say no till the Yankees win at least 2 more World Series before he gets in.
I have to blame someone for no WS Tittles so it might as well be him.
Hopefully the "Curse of the Moose" is over.

The Emperor said...

But Expert, isn't making a random decision to blame Moose for the Yanks not winning as arbitrary as blaming Giambi? Or what about Mattingly?

To me, it's an entire team collaboration that makes a WS-caliber team. If only a few guys do things right and the rest can't fall in line, why should that detract from the guys that did exceptionally well a good amount of the time?

That's like in elementary school where one kid disrupts the class and the whole class winds up staying after school as punishment, even when they have nothing to do with the one kid misbehaving.

Except with baseball it's usually the other way around when it comes to good players not getting a good-enough rep or HOF recognition because the team as a whole can't work together in concert.

"The Expert" said...

You are right "The Emperor", I just have to blame someone. Giambi is a good target too. I would never Blame Mattingly. He is over 100 games over 500. I think he has a slightly better record than Jim Palmer, 2 more wins and 1 more loss. So he will get in. I was really just joking when I said that It was "The Curse Of The Moose"

PatrickNY said...

Moose deserves consideration, but he won't get in on the first ballot unless the field is thin. He did enough, though, with 270 wins and the excellent W-L ratio. Stil, I can't help but wonder, if Moose gets in, why not Bert Blyleven? I think that's one of the HOF travesties.

Jonmouk71 said...

I've always liked Moose - but not always his personality. HOF? I don't think so. Monument Park? No. If none of the big three from the Yankees 5 straight championships in the 50's (Reynolds, Raschi, Lopat) are so honored, I can't see it for Moose. Reynolds is in Monument Park and is especially HOF worthy - since he both started and relieved and was 1/4 native American, a picture of the "Super Chief" should go up in Joba's locker.

The Emperor said...

Good point about Bert Blyleven, Patrick. I didn't think of that one, but you're right about him.

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