Finally time for Mussina’s call
Standing on the mound tossing his glove slightly to his side, preparing to juke like he’s shaking off a tackler. Immediately head-locked and piled on top of by multiple players, home and away. Eventually, regaining composure, brushing the dirt from his jersey just to learn of his eventual ejection.
That’s my oldest personal memory of Baltimore Orioles hall-of-fame pitcher, Mike Mussina. My mom and dad were both in attendance that day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The stadium held games for 14 months to the day when I inserted a tape into the VCR. Who knew when I pressed record on HTS, I would capture one of the most memorable brawls in franchise history?
That was memorable for the wrong reasons, but there are other memories of my favorite Oriole growing up. Checking a runner from the stretch, bending all the way down and peeking over to first. My assumption was he was spitting as close to the ground as possible. I was young and also thought his slight hop after delivery was just for show.
A part of his delivery unlike anyone else’s, I quickly learned that was him getting ready to field his position. Six different times he led all pitchers in the American League in fielding percentage. That hop was effective.
For all of my goofy memories of Mussina, there are plenty of statistical memories of him. In his ten seasons with the Orioles, he was an All-Star for five of them. How about his back-to-back 19-win seasons in 1995 and 1996? The near perfect game against the Cleveland Indians in 1997. His final game as an Oriole in 2000.
It may be hard to find anyone that doesn’t believe Mussina belongs in the Hall-of-Fame. This year could finally be his year.
Hashtag stop excluding Mussina
Tonight at 6 p.m., the Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the Hall-of-Fame class of 2019. This is Mussina’s sixth year of eligibility and as of voting on Monday, he’s listed on 81.2% of the ballots. Needing 75% to be inducted, Mussina has been listed on more-and-more ballots as the years have gone by.
Beginning in 2014 – his first year of eligibility, Mussina finished with 20.3% of votes. Following that, he finished with 24.6%, 43%, 51.8% and 63.5%, respectively.
Although an induction this year looks promising, it’s still entirely possible Mussina doesn’t get in. With just half of the ballots submitted, it wouldn’t be shocking if his omission played out again. It happened before.
Over an 18-year career, pitching for the Orioles and New York Yankees, Mike Mussina deserves to be in the Hall-of-Fame. Seven Gold Gloves, a 3.68 career ERA, 270 wins, 2,813 strikeouts. All numbers deserving of a nod to Cooperstown.
In ten seasons with the Orioles, Mussina ranks fourth among starters in total wins (143). Notching 276 total starts with the O’s, Mussina ranks seventh in ERA (3.56) among starters with at least 100 starts or more. Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar are a few names ahead of him.
Flipping the page to his tenure with the Yankees, Mussina is 13th all-time with 123 wins since 1901. He’s seventh in strikeouts (1,278), among starters with at least 1500 innings pitched. And, his 3.88 career ERA with the Bronx Bombers is good for 14th among starters with at least 200 starts.
After years of waiting, Mussina’s bronze plaque may finally hang in Cooperstown where it rightfully belongs.