Retired, Mussina to stay that way

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While the 2008 season ended with a disappointing third-place finish for the Yanks, Mike Mussina was a clear bright spot. He made a league-leading 34 starts, won 20 games for the first time in his career, topped 200 innings for the first time since 2003 and had his lowest ERA as a Yankee since 2001. Reinventing himself as a off-speed control artist, Mussina walked just 31 hitters, three fewer than starts made.

By all accounts, it was a season for the ages for Mussina, and when he announced his decision to hang it up after the 2008 campaign, we were both surprised and not surprised. Moose had always marched to his own drummer, and while he ended his career just 30 wins shy of that magical 300 plateau, he knew that age was catching up with him. He wanted to spend time with his family, and after 18 seasons in the bigs he had had enough.

Moose made his triumphant return to Yankee Stadium this weekend as part of the 2009 Old Timers’ Day celebration. While he didn’t pitch particularly well and was victimized by his fielders, it was still a treat to see old number 35 out there. During his trip to Yankee Stadium, Moose spoke to Dan Amore of The Hartford Courant to say that he is remaining retired:

“It’s a long way to the plate when you haven’t pitched in eight months,” said Mussina, who threw to a few batters.

There are any number of athletes who talk of going out on top but can’t resist the temptation to come back when they believe they still can. Mussina, who had a subpar season in 2007, decided before the ’08 season began that it would be his last, though he withheld his announcement until after the season. He finished with 270 wins.

“If I had another bad year, it would have been obvious,” Mussina said. “And if I had a good year, it would be the perfect way to go out. … If I came back now, it would ruin what I did last year.”

So anyone wondering about a possible Mussina comeback can dismiss that thought. “There’s less than half a season left,” he said, “and it would take me at least a month to get ready. At this point, I wouldn’t know what ‘ready’ is. It might be throwing 78 mph. I know I can throw from my knees through an L-Screen.”

Moose — who curmudgeonly dismissed new Yankee Stadium as a park too small for his tastes — could have been a useful piece for the Yankees this year. With Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain turning in inconsistent stretches and the fifth starter a giant question mark, Mussina would have been a nice back-of-the-rotation anchor for the Yanks this year.

But alas, his only appearance for the Yankees this year will be yesterday’s festivities. He is at home coaching Little League in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, and doesn’t see himself anywhere else. “I’m really OK with being retired,” he said to Amore, putting a final period on a great career.

(Hat tip to iYankees for the story.)

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  • http://Archimboldi Joe Robbins

    Moose was awesome last year. I was thrilled he won 20. Sure, I wish he had come back this season. Sure, the Yankees could use him. But there’s a lot to be said about about going out on top. He might still make the Hall of Fame. His 270 wins are impressive.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      He might still make the Hall of Fame. His 270 wins are impressive.

      So is his career 3.58 K/BB ratio, 14th best in baseball history.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
    (work-safe, although people may look at you funny)

  • leokitty

    Will whichever ESPN writer that I’ve blocked from my memory (Jayson Stark maybe?) stop writing that he’s 100% sure Moose is going to come back now? I think coming to OTD was definitely Mussina’s way of saying he was finished, for real.

    I miss Mussina’s pitching but I miss his interviews and comments more. :(

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    BP’s write up for Mussina this year kind of says it all:

    Mussina has the ability to go home and chase his bliss–something we should all envy.

  • Salty Buggah

    I hope he makes the HOF…can we start a “Hype Machine” like the Sox too? I mean Moose is definitely more deserving than Jim Rice.

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      We don’t have a hype machine, we have a BANGWAGON .

      All board the Moose for the HOF BANGWAGON!!!!

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Next stop, Bernie Williams, the most feared player in the live ball era, for the HOF!

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      All of the New York writers hate the teams of New York. The “NYHM” has to be an internet thing.

      • Salty Buggah

        Yea, mostly all of those NY writers are anti-Yankee. Why can’ these damn newspapers hire some pro-Yankee writers. I would actually read their articles praising the Yanks.

        All of the Boston writers drool over the Sox.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I’d be fine if they were critical of the Yanks, as long as their criticism makes sense and is soundly reasoned.

          But saying things along the lines of “The Yankees of today won’t win a ring because they don’t have enough grinders like Scott Brosius” is the type of inanity that drove me away from reading the Post and Daily News.

          • Salty Buggah

            exactly…same here. If they criticize the trades we made/didn’t make, it’s OK. They can want Joba in the pen and even that’s fine. But the other arguments, like the one you said, make me angry so I stopped reading them too.

          • Nady Nation

            It’s a shame that Feinsand gets grouped in with the rest of those Post/News idiots. I actually think he does a pretty good job covering the Yanks while maintaining at least a knowledgable stance on the club. However, when you get mushed in with the George Kings, Mushniks, Raissmans, and Lupicas of the world, people aren’t usually going to give you the time of day.

            • Salty Buggah

              You know, I was going to say the same thing. Feinsand isn’t bad at all.

        • The Lodge

          I’m not sure having the writers drool over the team would be preferable to the Masochistic Yankee-Hating Yankee-Writers or not.

  • Mattingly’s Love Child

    It is refreshing to see an athlete go out on top. It happens to rarely these days. The money, fame, ego all generally cause players to hold on forever, to have the uniform ripped from their backs (Tom Glavine). Though the Yanks could have used him this year, I have more respect for Mussina now than earlier in his career, because he saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want to go out a punchline. I certainly think he’s a borderline HoFer.

    • Kenneth

      The go out on top thing is pretty stupid. They should play til someone tears the uni off of them and til they can’t get paid anymore doing it. Athletes live in a real world not in some fantasy land of legacy’s.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Athletes don’t live in a real world. How many people in your real world get paid millions to play a child’s game?

        They are entertainers.

        How great is Nirvana remembered to be, because they didn’t have time to come out with a couple of crappy albums that they wrote just to get paid? Tupac? Jimi Hendrix?

        Or if you don’t like the music comparisons, how about some baseball ones: My father said the saddest things in baseball he ever saw were when Mickey Mantle was hobbled and playing a terrible 1st base, and Willie Mays just hanging on with the Mets.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Apparently my reply went missing somewhere……

        Athletes DO NOT live in a real world. How many people in your real world get paid millions to play a child’s game? They live in a land of legends.

        They are entertainers.

        How would people remember Nirvana, or Tupac, or Jimi Hendrix, etc if they had been around long enough to throw together some crappy albums just to make a paycheck?

        Or if you’d prefer a baseball comparison: my father’s saddest memories as a baseball fan are from Mickey Mantle struggling to play 1st base and Willie Mays barely hanging on with a terrible Mets team. Sure those two are considered all time greats, but most of those who saw them at the time agreed how painful it was to witness that.

        Mussia realized his time was over, and he moved on. His sense of his own athletic mortality is commendable.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Athletes DON’T live in a real world. They live in a fantasy land. They get paid millions to play a child’s game.

        They are glorified entertainers.

        Nirvana, Tupac, Hendrix, none of them stuck around long enough to write a crappy album that was all about getting paid. Therefore, they are legends with hardly any negative on their ledgers.

        Mays, Mantle, Aaron, Jim Palmer, etc….. the list of great who couldn’t figure out when to end it is quite long. It speaks well of Mussina that he understood his athletic mortality. These guys have been the best of the best their entire lives. They don’t want to be embarassed, and they don’t think they can be. But when they don’t realize it is time to quit, it is painful for all involved.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Nirvana, Tupac, Hendrix, none of them stuck around long enough to write a crappy album that was all about getting paid. Therefore, they are legends with hardly any negative on their ledgers.

          I was thinking about that the other day. What if Michael Jackson had died immediately after releasing “Dangerous” instead of living through both of those molestation cases?

          What if Bob Marley was still alive and releasing “meh” albums to help him pay for the oodles of illegitimate children he had?

          What if Elvis was all fat and bloated, like the tail end of Marlon Brando’s career? What if Brando died in the 70’s?

          Short careers are always lauded more than long ones, because there’s no long, ugly tail. Interesting.

          (slight quibble: Tupac DID live long enough to release crappy albums. The Don Killuminati was trash.)

  • gxpanos

    Jesus, do some people really think he’s a “borderline HOFer?” It’s clear-friggin’-cut that he is. There are only stupid reasons to keep him out. And fewer of those after last year, IE, “HE NEVER WON TWENTY!”

    So stupid.

  • Jon

    the thing is, nobody would say he deserves to be in the hall of fame if he didnt have that incredible 20 win season last year.

    • Salty Buggah

      The sane people still would I’m sure

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I would have.

  • leche: it does the yankees good

    Moose is an interesting guy. There’s something to be said for going out on top like he did. But if i was in MLB they’d have to drag me away kicking and screaming… best job in the world gotta give it up to moose for being able to walk away on his own terms.

    def miss his post game press conferences.

    off topic erin andrews is gorgeous.. whoever filmed that is a creep, but she is fine. can she just pose for playboy already.

  • jon

    I wonder how many kids Moose has made cry while coaching little leage

    • The Lodge

      And whether he makes them do the NYT crossword puzzle while on the bench.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        If only Carl Pavano had kids. I would have paid money to watch Mike Mussina either coach Pavano’s kids, or coach against them.

        Either way, it’s comedy GOLD.

  • Tank Foster

    I’ll be very upset if he doesn’t make the HOF. Extremely underrated pitcher. When he was more dominant, in his youth, it was with a lower profile team where he didn’t have the chance to really shine on the national level. By the time he makes it to NY, he dovetails with the decline of team out of their championship years. If his career were reversed, with the first half in NY and the second somewhere else, maybe he’d be taken more seriously as an HOFer.

  • JGS

    if he stuck around for three more years and went 35-37 with a 4.85 ERA, would that make him a better candidate for the Hall than he is now?

    • andrew

      Sadly, yes.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        It would make Corky Simpson more of a “Mike Mussina Guy”, that’s for sure.

  • Jersey

    On a related note, has anyone read John Feinstein’s Living on the Black, where he follows Mussina and Glavine for the 2007 (I think) season? I was thinking about picking up a copy for my dad’s birthday, and maybe get one for myself. I trust RABers’ opinions more than Amazon reviewers, if anyone has read it.

  • Kenneth

    He will be a HOF but it won’t be on the first ballot. His numbers will end up looking a lot better when people factor in the time and era he played and the division he played and the all the WS winners he pitched against all year.

  • Mattingly’s Love Child

    Ok, I wrote 2 different replys to Kenneth’s reply about having the uniform ripped off them, and both aren’t here, was it my computer or the thread?

  • Jersey

    From BR. Pretty solid case:

    Black Ink Pitching – 15 (141), Average HOFer ? 40
    Gray Ink Pitching – 244 (25), Average HOFer ? 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor, Pitching – 121 (67), Likely HOFer ? 100
    Hall of Fame Standards, Pitching – 54 (28), Average HOFer ? 50