This week Mike Mussina called it a career. He was able to go out on his terms. He admitted that he knew this was going to be his last season as he made the decision back before spring training. So now Mussina is offically done after recording the 1st 20 win season of his career, good for him.
"I knew that was going to be my last year since the first day of spring training," Mussina said via conference call. "I just didn't want it to be part of the season. I just wanted baseball to be the season, and (to) go enjoy the game."
Mike has always been a classy guy. A quiet yet firm man. He was never about flash and was always about business, as in taking care of it on the field. Now he walks away following one of the best seasons in his career. Mussina as everyone knows started 2008 with a 1-3 record and an era north of 5.00 and looked washed up. A couple of meetings with Manny Ramirez in April made Moose look like an old 39-year old but he turned things around quick. If it weren't for Mussina this year the Yankees would've been done a lot sooner than they were. He was with no question the Yanks MVP this season. So now the Yankees lose more than just a starting pitcher, they lose a leader and a positive influence in the clubhouse.
"I always said that when I got to this point I wanted to go out on my own terms," Mussina said. "I didn't want to go out with somebody telling me it was time to go. I didn't want to be trying to find a job where I couldn't find a job."
I will remember Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland A's as Mussina best game as a Yankee. With the Yankees down 2 games to none in the series Moose was given the ball and had to win or else the Yanks were going home. This was also the game where Derek Jeter made the infamous "Flip". In that game Mussina pitched 7 shutout innings that night and the Yankees won 1-0. They eventually ended up winning the series and advanced to the ALCS then the World Series. Another memorable game for Mosse was against during Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Mussina authored one of the greatest clutch pitching performances of all time. The Yankees were trailing Boston 4–0 Mussina made the first relief appearance of his career. With runners on at the corners and no one out Mussina got out of the jam and kept Boston as bay with 2 more scoreless innnings. The Yankees as everyone knows came back and won the game on Aaron Boone's 11th inning homerun.
Now the talk surrounding Mussina is whether he is deserving of making the Hall-of-Fame. I think he is. His consistency over the years is uncanny and hard to match. I have read the papers and a few websites where this issue has been debated. Many think Moose will get in, if not on the first try, then his second. A good point made in Mike's case is that he pitched in the American League East his whole career, a tough division throughout Moose's career. In the 18 years Mike pitched in the AL East, he pitched to 8 World Series winning teams Blue Jays 1992-93, Yankees ‘96, 1998-2000, Red Sox 2004, ‘07. He also pitched during the steroid era. Mussina is 19th in history in strikeouts. His career record is 270-153 with a ERA. He is also one of 25 players ever to win 270 games. His career winning percentage of .638 is quite impressive in today's game. He and Randy Johnson are the only pitchers since 1900 to own a career record of at least 50 games over .500 with two different teams. He finished 123-72 with a 3.88 ERA as a Yankee. No other American League pitcher had more wins than Moose while he was in pinstripes. He also won 7 gold gloves, 1996-99, 2001, 2003 and 2008. Moose recorded 17 straight seasons of at least 11 wins, now that is impressive because he's the ONLY AL pitcher to ever accomplish that. Amazing.
"I've done as much as I'm capable of doing at the level I want to do it at," Mussina said. "If it creates a good argument than that's all the better."
Brian Cashman was asked if Moose was a Hall-of-Famer in his book, his response:
"There's no question in my mind he's a Hall of Famer"
Jeter had this to say regarding Mussina:
“It was a great pleasure playing against – and even more so with – Mike Mussina since I entered the league in 1995. He was a true professional both on and off the field. Moose’s accomplishments in the game over the last 18 years represent a Hall of Fame player.”
Mussina played 18 seasons, 10 with the Balitmore Orioles and 8 with the Yankees. Mussina didn't get a chance to win a championship here in New York but he lived up to everything he was suppose to be. He was signed with the intentions of solidifying the staff and that's what he did. 2007 was one to forget for Mike but he rebounded by being the ace in 2008 finishing 20-9. I have liked Mussina as a Yankee because of his consistency. In '07 it was hard to see the man struggle the way he did, you knew he was so much better than what you saw. I am very happy for him that he was able to regroup and finish his career on top the way he did. I wish he could've won a championship with the Yanks. Maybe one day he will as a coach. I want to thank Mussina for giving the Yankees everything he had out their on the mound, as a fan I really appreciate when a player gives 100 percent with each performance, A class act is what best describes Mike Mussina, he will be missed in the Bronx.