Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Unluckiest $144 Million Man: A Few Words about Mike Mussina

A few examples why some would consider Mike Mussina a born loser, and others would consider him simply an unlucky man:

  • The man has 4 career one hitters. 4! Normally, one would think that Mussina should receive props for pitching that many near perfect games. But let's look at each of these four games, copied from the SUS Bible, Wikipedia:
    • July 17, 1992, Mussina retired the first 12 Rangers.
    • May 30, 1997, he retired the first 25 Indians.
    • August 4, 1998, he retired the first 23 Tigers.
    • September 2, 2001, he retired the first 26 Red Sox before pinch hitter Carl Everett singled with two out in the 9th.
      • Special note about this game: White Boy went, and I almost went with he and some of his friends back when I only knew one of White Boy's friends, but not White Boy. I stayed behind because the apartment I recently moved into had no keys yet and I was house sitting. I hated my new roomates at the time for making me stay behind, but looking back, this was one of the nicer things they have ever done for me
  • So given that 1 of his perfect games was broken up in the 8th and two were broken up in the 9th, shouldn't Mussina get some of the blame for not being able to close this out? Shouldn't every pitcher be given the benefit of the doubt for no more than one near perfect game?
  • Mussina came to the team in 2001. Nice timing Muss. You arrived in time to see us lose a heartbreaking World Series followed by a Series in '03 where the team forgot that there was a series after defeating the Red Sox. Are you a more important Yankee than Shane Spencer? Absolutely. But guess which steroid user has 3 rings? And guess which Stanford graduate has 0?
  • Looking back at Mussina's career, 3 stretches of Yankee greatness come to mind, and they all show why he was great at the wrong time:
    • In '03, Mussina faced Pedro two or three games in a row, and more than held his own back when Pedro was still the best pitcher of my lifetime. I'm pretty sure the Yankees won one or two of these games, a remarkable feat when one remembers how unbeatable Pedro was at the time. What's the problem with this? Mussina's best games of the season came in July '03, not October '03
    • '03 ALCS, Game 7. Mussina pitched 3 great scoreless innings to keep the game close. I remember being very surprised that Mussina pitched 3 scoreless innings. This means two things:
      • He was bad enough, at this point in the season to be stuck in relief.
      • My surprise at him throwing 3 scoreless innings means my expectations must have been amazingly low. I don't remember why, but I'm guessing said expectations were well deserved.
      • Was Mussina the reason we lost the '03 World Series? No. That honor falls to, in no particular order: Josh Beckett, Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, and even Aaron Boone, who touched the ball once during the '03 playoffs. But it's not Mussina-like for his great effort to be wasted.
    • This season was the most forgettable Yankee season since George H.W. Bush was in the White House. The team looked bloated-A-Rod and Jeter were not earning their salaries, Andy Pettite had was awful in every key spot, and Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy almost won games. So what better year, when the rest of the team craps out, for Muss to achieve his first 20-win season? Just think, if he won 30, the Yankees could have played in the post season.

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