October 12, 2012
Mike Mussina's Cap
Forget the furor over Alex Rodriguez getting benched for the deciding Game 5 tonight (and, boy, is there furor). Forget the constant references to the Jeffrey Maier incident. Toss aside any trivia you were hoping to work into the conversation about the New York Yankees playing as the Baltimore Orioles before moving to the Big Apple in 1903. Ignore the fact that, from 1969 to 1983, the American League East was dominated by these two clubs.
The best piece of shared history between these two clubs is ex-starting pitcher and future Hall of Famer Mike Mussina. Mussina was drafted in the first round by the Orioles in 1990. Over the next ten years, he anchored the Orioles rotation, winning 147 games (with a .645 winning-percentage) and striking out 1,535. As an Oriole, Mussina finished in the top six of Cy Young ballots eight times, with a second place finish behind Pedro Martinez's season for the ages in 1999.
Following the 2000 season, Moose signed with the Yankees for $88.5 million. One tale out of New York's courtship had George Steinbrenner clearing the George Washington Bridge for big city-wary Mussina on his way out of town. In his eight years in pinstripes, Mussina never won the World Series many expected was inevitable, but he did win 123 games (at a .631 clip) and strike out 1,278 batters. He flirted with a perfect game (losing it to Carl Everett on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth inning) and finally had the elusive 20-win season in 2008. He retired that offseason despite still having plenty in the tank.
There's some talk among Mussina fans about what logo might appear on his Hall of Fame plaque if the writers are smart enough to vote him in. He spent more time with the Orioles and had his peak in Baltimore, but he achieved more team success (a World Series ring notwithstanding) in New York. My suggestion? Bring Moose to Yankee Stadium this afternoon and let him throw as all-time pitcher. Whichever team beats him is the one whose cap he wears in Cooperstown. Simple enough.