Feb
15

Mike Mussina calls the kettle black

By

It’s no secret around here that I am no fan of Mike Mussina’s. While he has put up some huge seasons for the Yanks and has turned in some stellar games over the years, I’ve long questioned his desire and drive on the mound.

Too many times, I’ve seen Mike Mussina grow flustered with his fielders after an error or with his pitches after he doesn’t get a close call from an umpire. Too many times, I’ve seen Mussina squander away a lead because he’s just given up. Maybe it’s his drive for perfection just manifesting itself; maybe it’s 3000+ Big League innings coming home to roost.

But whatever the cause or the symptoms, something about Mike Mussina just rubs me the wrong way.

So enter Andy Pettitte and the HGH/Mitchell Report scandal. In discussions with the media yesterday, Mike Mussina shared his thoughts on the topic. Generally, he was very supportive of Andy but realistic. Pettitte, Mussina said, will face some trying times this season, especially when he pitches in Boston and if he struggles out of the gate. But the best part was Mussina’s money quote.

However it happens, he has to be able to go out there and pitch,” Mike Mussina said of Pettitte. “He has to find a way to deal with it. I don’t think he will be able to do his job properly if he has to answer questions all season long.”

So many times over the last three seasons, I’ve yelled at the TV with Mussina on the mound. I’ve pled, begged, shouted and just plain stated: Mike Mussina has to find a way to deal with it. Sure, Jeter made a bad throw, Giambi made a bad scoop, the pitch was on the black. But just deal with it.

I got a chuckle out of Mussina’s quote today, and then I thought to myself, “Hey, Mike, take your own advice. It’s for the good of the team too.”

Categories : Rants
  • mko

    Well, I’m sure Joe Girardi is gonna tell him that when Mussina starts throwing his nerves away ;-)

  • E-ROC

    We all know that it might be a trying season for Pettitte. No sh#t, Moose! Why not say, “We’ll have Andy’s back.” “We’ll help him get through this trying time.” “We’ll ride this motherf*ucka ’til the wheels fall off.” Say something that isn’t obvious. Nope. We won’t hear that from good ‘ol Mike. I don’t like that fool either.

    Anyway, if Pettitte retires, what should the Yanks do? Trade for Joe Blanton? Ben Sheets? Hopefully, Pettitte doesn’t retire, but I think that’s a strong possibility.

    • Bo

      A lot of guys leave 16 mill on the table doing something they love and won’t be able to do forever.

      lol

  • Jeff

    Ben:
    First you say: ” I’ve long questioned his desire and drive on the mound.”

    Then you go on: “Too many times, I’ve seen Mike Mussina grow flustered with his fielders after an error or with his pitches after he doesn’t get a close call from an umpire.” – Well isn’t the frustration tied with his desre to win? I wouldnt question his desire – thats where the emotion comes from.
    Also – I know its bullshit to show your teamates up but after every game if he’s asked about it he backs the player or team… He beats himself up more than anything and although its not good I do think it shows how much he cares.
    Last I just dont see where his comments were that different from anyone elses on the team. From Cash, Joba to Jeter they all said its going ot be tough but something that Pettit will have to deal with. What was so different about this?

    • raymagnetic ™

      Jeff,

      The difference with Mussina saying it is that the writer of this article doesn’t like Mussina. When people don’t like a certain player it doesn’t matter what that player says, they will find a way to dissect the statement and disagree with it. It’s human nature I guess.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Yes I think Mussina wants to win. I also think he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else (esp the umps) which is why he goes crazy. I think he doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions a lot of time but I don’t think that is the same as “dealing with it.” I think he freaks out that the world (umps and players) are so DAMN DUMB.

    Mussina wants, “HEY, I went to STANFORD, of course I’m right.” stamped on his forehead.

    I think Mike Mussina has a bit of a maturity/self-responsibility issue and when he’s struggling he doesn’t want bs calls or infielders dropping balls. But I think he deals with it. Sometimes badly, but he deals with it.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      I think that’s pretty accurate.

  • Bo

    Calling Mussina a quitter is beyond harsh. Questioning his desire is harsh too. Thats pretty off base.

  • Chris

    I actually agree with you on this one. Mussina seems very standoffish and does not want to deal with others. He should not be criticizing anyone after the year he had last year. I have never liked is attitude and never will.

  • steve (different one)

    what would you rather have:

    a guy who is prickly with the media and a “standoffish”, but playing the game cleanly, even when he could have used some illicit help to reverse the downward dragging of aging on his fastball

    OR:

    a seemingly polite, humble God-fearing “great teammate” who was secretly taking PEDs?

    i’d take the former.

    now, i am a big fan of Andy Pettitte, even through this mess, but maybe we should cut Mussina some slack?

    everyone is so quick to rip him for showing displeasure on the mound, but that is his way of dealing with his own diminished stuff. he is very proud of his pitching abilities, but his body is starting to betray him. so many other guys have resorted to cheating to put off their decline period, yet Moose is still going out there every day and trying to compete with an 86 MPH fastball.

    cut the guy some slack, that’s all i am saying.

    • TomG

      I have to disagree; who would you rather have as a teammate? I’d take the former, the guy who humbly works hard to win as a team, lapses in judgment and all, than the arrogant guy who has the gall to give the one of the best offensive players in the history of the game attitude when he makes an error behind him. Team chemistry goes a long way; I’ve never seen moose contributing positively in this area. In the past, his game has excused him from any real criticism for the attitude, but when he starts putting up numbers like he did last year he should hear it. I think he’s gotten all the slack he should get.

      • steve (different one)

        i’d rather have the guy who doesn’t come out and admit taking PEDs, thus calling into the question the legitimacy of your championships.

        but yes, i am speaking as a fan, not a player.

        and we don’t know that Moose’s teammates don’t like him. just because the media portrays him in a certain light, does not mean he is not liked.

        same with A-Rod. we saw last year just how much the young guys “hated” A-Rod.

        it’s the media’s job to create controversy. that’s what they do.

        • TomG

          You can’t blame it all on the media. Somewhere, right now, Mussina is still whining about having to start the season opener in Japan in 2004.

          Maybe he’s great behind closed doors in the clubhouse, but I’ve often gotten the impression he’s speaking out of turn when it comes to his teammates, the Pettitte comments included.

          I think we just disagree on the PED issue, I feel sorry for Pettitte. He only used the stuff a couple of times, which is probably what the majority of players have done. He just got caught in the crosshairs because of Clemens.

        • Lori

          Actually, we can and do know that Moose’s teammates DO like him and respect him a lot. They say so and show so on the field. They wouldn’t need to say good things about him, they could deflect the questions. But they do say good things about him consistently. Michael KAY doesn’t like him. Some medica types don’t like him because he gets grumpy and doesn’t give them their interviews. That doesn’t change that he’s a hard worker as a player and has struggled through adversity.

  • David

    The idea that Mussina “can’t deal with it” is bs born out of the idiocy that is Michael Kay. Mussina has been a great pitcher for the Yankees. He’s just getting old and is declining. It happens. Its not because he isn’t mentally tough.

    • steve (different one)

      agreed. Michael Kay certainly has a poorly masked vendetta against Mussina.

      even if i agree with some of what Ben wrote, just knowing Kay’s feelings makes me want to defend him.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        The joy of off-season is no Michael Kay. Just HEARING his name makes me grind my teeth.

        • dan

          Michael Kay Michael Kay Michael Kay Michael Kay Michael Kay Michael Kay Michael Kay Michael Kay

          • LiveFromNewYork

            grind grind grind grind grind

            nice to know who your friends are!

  • stefan

    Mussina is a straight-shooter, and that’s all there is to it. Just because he makes people uncomfortable with his lack of canned answers, doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. He just says it like it is. There is nothing wrong about his remarks about Pettitte……he’s just expressing a possibility that makes Yankees fans uncomfortable. Besides, I doubt you people were so up in arms about his Pavano remarks last offseason.

    So get over it. Just because someone is on Derek Jeter’s team doesn’t mean they have to adopt his media persona. Moose is, and always has been, a perfectionist. Frankly, it’s quite all right to have someone like that on your team. It’s not like he causes any clubhouse incidents. All he does is speak the truth, and apparently that’s too much for some coddled Yankees fans to bear.

    • dan

      Speaking of being a straight shooter, remember when he was asked about being replaced in the rotation, and he shot back “WITH WHO?!” And then, of course, mini-moose Kennedy threw up a 1.89 ERA in three replacement starts.

  • r.w.g.

    I’m not excusing his attitude.. but if I graduated from Stanford University in 3 years with a degree in mathematics, I might think I was smarter than a lot of the people around me.

    • stefan

      A degree in Economics, actually. Meaning that when he retires from baseball, he could probably become an investment banker if he really wanted to, and continue earning millions a year. lol

  • http://www.duelingpinstripes.wordpress.com jboogz

    I’ve always felt that Mike is a little pissed that his brilliance is wasted playing a kids game. I think he can’t wait to be done, relax with his millions and dive into more intellectual pursuits. I see of lot what went on with Tiki Barber[granted TB was still at the top of his game when he started shooting off at the mouth, and Mussina is far from his peak]. He feels that his influence and opinion should be valued above all else and if not than you must be a moron. Just my opinion though.

  • mooks

    The way I have actually understood Mussina over the years, is that he is a good teamate.

    That “pain in the ass”, spent alot of time mentoring Hughes in spring training of 2006, and when Kennedy came up and took Moose’s spot, he was good to him to, giving him advice.

    Now, is Moose good with the media, NOOOOO, does Kay have a vendetta against Moose, yea, did Kay start with Moose, no.

    Mussina doesn’t like the media or the people in it, it was only natural that he would have a gripe with Kay and that it would go both ways.

    • Rob_in_CT

      Regarding players and the media… I’ve come to think of it this way: do I like reporters? No, I don’t. Lawyers > Reporters, IMO. And don’t even get me started on Michael Kay… ugh. That he dislikes Moose is a major plus for Moose in my book.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Mike Mussina is not a wuss. He’s just an old pitcher with lots of mileage on his arm. Does he sometimes come off as arrogant? Sure he does. He’s a 250 game winner (not that wins are that great a stat, mind you) in the major leagues – pretty much anyone who manages that has a whole lotta confidence. Hence comments like “with who!?” when he got bounced from the rotation. That’s just pride, fuckin’ with you.

    Mussina gave the Yankees one great season (2001). He’s been good in some others, a mediocre in others. Last season he was borderline bad, and it was frustrating. But it had a lot more to do with an 85 mph “fastball” than it had to do with getting upset b/c of an error made behind him or a bad call.

    I like that Mussina calls it as he sees it. And I hope he’s not a big fat liar when he claims he’s clean, btw (as many others have turned out to be)…

    • stefan

      I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Forget PEDs, that guy looks like he’s never seen a protein shake in his life.

      But keep in mind that, in the mediocre seasons, he was battling elbow tendinitis. It’s stayed pretty quiet the last two years (meaning he has no real excuse for last season), but it could flare up at any moment. Let’s hope it doesn’t.

  • Ben B.

    I’ve probably watched Moose more closely over the last couple of years than any other player. He’s not a quitter. Sometimes he gets frustrated and it starts to steamroll against him. He’s getting older. He doesn’t have his best stuff anymore. He’s not going to win 19 games. That would frustrate me, too. All athletes have to learn to deal with their declining abilities as they age. I think Ben K. and others read too much into Moose’s expressiveness on the mound when he’s pitching. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s doing the best he can out there on any given day. In fact, I think it’s really offensive to suggest otherwise. This is not a ballplayer whose effort I’ve ever seen questioned (by another ballplayer, manager or front office person). And, I don’t put a lot of stock in bloggers who question his effort.

    • mooks

      I’m waiting to see what happens the first time Joba gets angry about a fielder making an error behind him.

  • stefan

    “This is not a ballplayer whose effort I’ve ever seen questioned (by another ballplayer, manager or front office person). And, I don’t put a lot of stock in bloggers who question his effort.”

    Those two sentences just about sum it up.

    I don’t think we even need to bring up the “No, you STAY THERE!” game……

  • Doc

    Love the website, and love the majority of the articles you all post, but I couldn’t possibly disagree more with you, when it comes to Mussina and this article entirely.

    It’s obvious he rubs you the wrong way, for whatever reason it may be, but you’re a writer. You have to be subjective, not objective, and you can’t let personal feelings towards a certain person dictate what you write. I mean, c’mon, this is the stuff you learn in English 101 your Freshman year in college. Everything you just wrote in this article was you blustering about how you perceive Mussina’s body-language, and what he meant by the quote you put in bold lol.

    Mike Mussina, although he’s obviously fading now, is a borderline HOF. I’m sure he’s found ways to “deal with it”. All he was saying is that he’s not sure how Andy’s going to react to being heckled by fans, and hounded by media over his admitted use of HGH. Don’t be THAT silly when you’re writing articles thousands of people read.

    With that said, much success to the site. I’m going to order the new Big Three shirts pronto

  • Bob

    why is everyone so quick to throw kennedy in with chamberlain and hughes? the big three? 3 as in the number of career major league games pitched by one ian kennedy? who’d he pitch against in those 3 starts? was it, toronto, kansas city, and tampa bay? the three big powerhouses of the american league? the guy was barely throwing 90 and he’s like 24. unless he asks andy for some help, that’s not going to get any higher. point being, i didn’t see anything so great about him last year and i really hope he gets lit up from opening day so everyone will stop fawning over some doofy looking bitch. and don’t say mussina throws 86 or whatever, i saw him hit 90 more than a few times last year and he was 38. i’d take my chances with the moose over kennedy anyday. joe torre was such a cock. mussina was putting up 15 wins a season for him over 6 seasons and that didn’t earn him the right to pitch out of his funk? then he fucking puts wang in to pitch game 4 and he gets rocked. then torre the dumb shit brings mussina in with runners on the corners and 0 out. that’s a great situation to come into. considering how mussina pitched after he came in, i don’t think its a stretch to say that the yankees would have won game 4 if he started. at any rate, it couldn’t have been worse than the immediate hole wang put them in. first batter home run. great start. that doesn’t kill any momentum at all. fuckin torre.

  • Doc

    Bob, you’re a moron.

    First off all, Kennedy is 22, not 24.

    Second, Kennedy’s fastball sits 89-92mph, he doesn’t “barely hit 90″, dumb dumb. He’s usually sitting at 91. He has a nasty change-up, with an average slider and curve. He commands all of them pinpoint. Get your facts correct. This kid is an outstanding pitcher. And what does his looks have to do with anything lol? You a closet case?

    Third, Kennedy has better minor league numbers than Hughes and Chamberlain, by quite a margin. That’s why he’s considered part of the Big Three. And by the Way, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Kansas City all had pretty damn good line-up’s last season, so your point is completely invalid. You don’t have to throw 96mph to be a good pitcher there, smarty pants. Mussina, the guy you sucked off your entire post, never threw hard.

    Fourth, Mussina could only rarely hit 90 last season, and he had to drop his arm angle in order to do so. Mussina also said that it put strain on his arm. it’s obvious you have some kind of man-crush on Mussina, and don’t want to see him go. I saw Mussina throwing 84mph fastballs for like 3 starts in a row. He sucks now, get over it.

    Fifth, Joe Torre won 4 rings over 12 seasons, which is a championship 1/3rd of the time. He brought his team to the playoffs every single season he managed. Give the man the respect he deserves. What, are you going to manage lol? If you were a manager, the Yankees would lose 100 games a season, nomatter who was on the team. Shut your ignorant internet mouth.

    Sixth, he put Wang in game four, because Wang has the best numbers in baseball when he pitches at home. No pitcher posts better numbers at his home stadium, than Wang. Plus, he was the Yankees best pitcher. Torre put his number one out there. LOL@You saying you would’ve put Mussina in. In case you have forgotten, Mussina was complete and total garbage last season. Nobody lets a playoff series hinge on someone as bad as Mussina was last year. Go look Mussina’s numbers up at baseball-reference.com…..completely and totally hideous, and disasterous.

    Bob, don’t ever post again. Your post was worthlessly disrespectful, with nothing valid, and absolutely no truth. :)

  • http://touchofpinstripes.wordpress.com Jeterismyhomeboy

    I’ve heard from multiple sources that Moose is a good teammate. Also, I’ve heard that he’s a really nice guy in person. I just think he’s sharp with the press for the same reason we’re all sharp with the press: they say and write dumb, inane things. How many times have you taken in a FJM post with relish and laughter? How many times have you guys lambasted NY writers for a lack of research, taking quotes out of context and generally being vapid? Sure, he graduated from Stanford with a degree in Economics (which is really enviable, ’cause I got rejected from Stanford and suck at econ, and I can’t throw even an 85 MPH fastball), but he also has been in baseball for a long time. He is a borderline-HoF candidate, and with better run support, he would be a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

    He had a great quote in April last year, when A-Rod got out to his hotter than the surface of the sun start. He basically called the press out for all the crap they piled on him in 2006. So despite the fact that he was less than happy with A-Rod’s propensity to make errors behind him, he stood up for a teammate. He’s been a mentor to Kennedy and Hughes, and I, personally, hope that he’ll have plenty of reasons to make straight-shooting remarks to all those people who said he was washed up.

    And: GET BACK IN THAT DUGOUT! :D

  • clint babcok

    Pretty amazing comments. Take out your judgements on a man whether you know him or not – thats pretty cowardly. Judge Mussina for his accomplishments and give hime some slack. He HAS arguably been one if NOT the most durbale pitcher in recent history of MLB. Look at his stats, look at his records and compare. FACTS – no operations and no meds – ALL NATURAL NOW – take that he has been on (2) of the most storied franchises in Baseball – and you naysayers still want to call him a baby. You all really need to rethink your position, author inlcluded – if some lonley boy from central PA has not earned any creditibility in his ptiching career and you think he’s getting away with something. CLEARLY – he’s smarter than you all – well, thats why you guys don’t pitch!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      CLEARLY – he’s smarter than you all – well, thats why you guys don’t pitch!

      Actually, he’s much better at baseball than I am. That’s why I don’t pitch.