Blog Entry

Mussina makes it official; he's done

Posted on: November 20, 2008 12:16 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2008 1:13 pm

Yes, it's true. Mike Mussina is retiring.

The official announcement came today from the Yankees, but the signs had been there for quite a while. Unlike so many of his peers, Mussina didn't seem to care about chasing 300 wins (he's 30 short), or about chasing that last few million dollars.

Instead, he's leaving after the first 20-win season of his career, leaving after a year in which he had bounced back from what was easily his worst season. He may not be going out on top, but he is going out when he could still pitch.

We'll remember a lot of things about Mussina, many of them good, some not so good. He finishes with a brilliant career record of 270-153, with the fifth highest winning percentage all-time for pitchers with 500 or more starts.

The names ahead of him are pretty impressive, too: Christy Mathewson, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Just behind him are Jim Palmer, Greg Maddux and Tom Seaver.

So what wasn't so good?

Well, I have a hard time forgetting Mussina's final year in Baltimore, and not because he went 11-15 in his only full season with a losing record. What I can't forget is the night that Mussina took himself out of a 1-1 game after complaining about a minor injury that wouldn't cause him to miss a start. An Orioles official told me that Mussina was doing that regularly in the late stages of that 2000 season, and that some in the organization believed he was more concerned about protecting his ERA in a free-agent year than he was in helping a bad Orioles team get a few more wins.

Mussina had a fine career, a career that might well take him to the Hall of Fame.

And yet, some people always wondered whether he could have done more than he did. He never won a Cy Young Award (he finished second once, in 1999), and he never won a World Series (although he did pitch very well in beating Josh Beckett in Game 3 in 2003).

He did things his own way, and now he's handled retirement that way, too.

Not many guys retire after 20-win seasons. Sandy Koufax did in 1966, but only because his left elbow was causing him so much pain. Lefty Williams and Eddie Cicotte were done after 1920, but only because they were implicated in the Black Sox scandal and were banned.

To find a guy who voluntarily left after a 20-win season, while still healthy, you've got to go back to Henry Schmidt, who went 22-13 for the 1903 Brooklyn Superbas. And Schmidt didn't really retire. He just decided he didn't like living in the East, and went back to the Pacific Coast League.

And since Schmidt continued to pitch (in the PCL), you could say that Mussina is the first pitcher ever to announce his retirement, while still healthy, immediately after a 20-win season.

Category: MLB

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:16 am

Mussina makes it official; he's done

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Mussina makes it official; he's done

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Mussina makes it official; he's done

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Mussina makes it official; he's done

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Mussina makes it official; he's done

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Mussina makes it official; he's done

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Since: Oct 21, 2011
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Since: Jan 5, 2007
Posted on: November 21, 2008 1:01 pm

Mussina makes it official; he's done

I have to concur with Sillypuddy.  Mussina could be a HOFer, but Morris should be in already.  Too many of the voters look at the bottom line stats (ERA, W, Winning %, Ratio).  This is very similar to what Orioles management has done over the years, by the way.  Anyway, Bill James breaks down Morris's stats better than any HOF voter possibly could.  You HAVE to compare a pitcher (or player) to his peers during the time he pitched.  Plus, there are dozens of other stats you need to take into consideration before voting (ballpark dimensions, ratio of balls put in play that go for hits vs outs - in other words, the luck factor), Run support, etc.  My guess is 90% of the HOF voters DO NOT take anything beyond the bottom line stats into consideration when voting, and that's a shame.  Morris isn't the only guy who should be in who isn't.  I think you have to look hard at Blyleven too.

Anyway, as a lifelong Orioles fan, congrats to Mike Mussina, and THANKS for signing the hat I mailed to you about 10 years ago!  Classy guy!

Since: May 8, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2008 8:18 pm

Mussina makes it official; he's done

CBass,   The comparison that you make is a very valid one but I do feel that sometimes statistics could be misleading.  When you compare these three pitchers remember the teams they played on and the parks that they pitch in.  Pettitte and Glavine pitched on teams that dominated their divisions and leagues for the better part of 10 seasons.  Also, they pitched their home games in ballparks that were a little more pitcher friendly.  And when your dealing with Pettitte you also have consider the luckiness or being fortunate enough to have Mo in the bullpen and Glavine pitching in the NL.   When baseball people are talking about raising the bar to enter the HOF for the offensive players due to the steroids, we need to consider how good the clean (IF ANY) pitchers of that era were.  Not sure if you feel the same way, but I think someone that deserves to be in and always get overlooked that is comparable to Mussina(Winning PCT. aside)  is Jim Kaat.  268 wins for a lot of sub par teams.  Again, not debating your stats, they are what the are, just feel Mussina is deserving.  

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