Some things are more unfair than others. Mike Mussina, who has a good chance of becoming a Hall of Famer, signed with the New York Yankees in 2001 after they defeated New York's most beloved team in the 2000 World Series.
The Yankees won the 2001 pennant as Mussina had 17 victories, with an excellent 3.15 ERA and a 143 ERA+. He also had over 200 strikeouts.
Favored in the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees had Mariano Rivera on the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game, leading by a run; but baseball is like life, with no guarantees.
Nothing should ever be taken for granted. Which the Yankees discovered to their horrror, as Arizona scored twice to snap the Yankees' streak of three consecutive World Championships.
The years passed quickly, and in 2008 Mussina won 20 games for the first time in his career, but the Yankees still had not won another World Championship. For most teams, eight years is not much of a drought, but the Yankees are not most teams.
Mussina was joined by some big-name super stars.
Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Roger Clemens again, and even catching great Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez were part of the Yankees during Mussina's tenure, but there was no World Championship.
Some referred to Mussina as the "leader of the ant-World Series champions," because the team of stars made the playoffs every season until 2008, when Mussina won 20 games.
Mike Mussina was a winner who came close. He lacked the supporting cast necessary to achieve the final step.
It was Mussina who allowed the Yankees to win the 2003 pennant. He put on one of the greatest performances of all time in the seventh game of the playoffs against the Boston Red Sox.
The Sox were leading 4-0 with Pedro Martinez on the mound. The Yankees could not afford to get further behind.
With Boston runners on first and third and no outs, Mussina came in for Roger Clemens, who has been known to leave some important games.
He struck out Jason Varitek for the first out, and then induced Johnny Damon to hit a shot to shortstop that was turned into an inning-ending double play.
In the 11th inning, Aaron Boone hit a home run off Tim Wakefield to win the pennant for the Yankees.
In 2007, Mussina became the ninth pitcher to win at least 100 game with two teams.
Following his 20-win season in 2008, Mussina, now 39 years old, retired.
After not making the playoffs for the first time since 1997, the Yankees did what they do when they become desperate. They spent a lot of money.
C.C. Sabathia and Allan Burnett were signed to create a pitching staff. Mark Teixiera was signed to give the Yankees the best first basemen they had since Tino Martinez.
Of course, now that Mussina was no longer with the Yankees, they won their first World Championship since 2000. What a difference a year makes.
BASEBALL PLAYOFFS LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES :Yanks' Rotation, Old and Ineffective, Is in Need of an Overhaul. (2006, October 10). New York Times (1923-Current file),D2. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 1630606872).
New York Yankees at Baseball Reference