When you think of legendary baseball pitchers, you probably don’t think of Mike Mussina.
You actually probably think of "The Moose" when you think of old and overpaid pitchers that could retire and nobody would blink an eye.
Yes, Mike Mussina is in the company of greats like Jon Lieber and Steve Trachsel. I bet you didn’t even know they were still in the majors.
Mussina, however, is not exactly a slouch. He’s a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate and could end up being in the top-20 all time for career wins and strikeouts in MLB, if he pitches for a couple more years. He’s only 39, which is pretty much the new 25 for baseball pitchers.
If Randy Johnson can go until he’s 44, Mikey can keep hurling until 2010, meaning he’ll probably end up with over 300 wins and over 3,000 strikeouts.
What makes Mussina even more impressive is the fact that he didn’t take steroids. Take a second and pick your jaw up off the floor. The former teammate of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte doesn’t come up in a lot of the 'roid rumors.
He’s also never become the subject of the absurd New York tabloids, unlike the immortal Alex Rodriguez and the somewhat ornery Big Unit. By all accounts, Mussina isn’t a cheater, nor is he a bad human being.
As Bubbles from HBO’s The Wire would say, he’s “doing what the f*** he need to be doing.”
Although, while staying the course and being on the straight and narrow has made him a Hall of Famer and an incredibly rich man, it hasn’t gotten Mussina any serious hardware.
He’s been to two World Series with the Yankees (surprisingly, he didn’t make it to the Fall Classic with the Orioles, whodathunkit?). He’s also been nominated for the Cy Young seven times and the MVP award twice, without winning either.
Forget winning serious hardware, Mussina can’t even get past meaningless numerical milestones. He’s never won 20 games in a season, but he’s won over 14 games 10 times. He’s never pitched a no-hitter, but he retired the first 23, 25, and 26 batters he faced in three different games.
I won’t make a call on the no-hitter front, but this year could be his year to become a 20-game winner (he’s got eleven as I’m writing this). He could even win the Cy Young, since I can’t think of anyone else having a dominant season, and he deserves a good old-fashioned lifetime-achievement award (Kobe for MVP, anyone?).
So yeah, you may not like the Yankees, which is pretty absurd to start with (have you seen Jason Giambi’s moustache?), but don’t rag on my boy Mike Mussina.
Here’s a guy who is essentially a normal human being—he’s a crossword-puzzle enthusiast, much like Adam “Pacman” Jones—who is also really awesome at throwing baseballs.
He’s got more career wins than Bob Gibson and more career strikeouts than David Cone and "Cactus" Jack Morris. Give this man the respect he deserves, and try to trade for him in your local fantasy league!
Inside the Numbers
$130 million in career earnings
5 All-Star selections
6 Gold Glove awards
261 career wins