Tag: Mike Mussina

Making Sense of the John Smoltz, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling HOF Debates

John Smoltz, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling…or all of the above? It’s a question Hall of Fame voters wrestled with this year (we’ll find out what they concluded on Tuesday), and it’s a damn tough one.

Or maybe not, if you believe the tally of public HOF votes at Baseball Think Factory. As of Jan. 4, Smoltz sat at 88.3 percent, trailing only Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez among eligible players.

Meanwhile, Schilling (53.8 percent) and Mussina (37.9 percent) fell well below the 75 percent threshold needed for induction.

What gives? Why does Smoltz look like a lock to follow his former Atlanta Braves teammates and 2014 inductees Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine into Cooperstown while Schilling and Mussina appear destined to miss out?

Let’s put the three pitchers’ key stats side-by-side and go from there:

Those are remarkably similar lines. And if you use career wins above replacement (WAR), Schilling (79.9) and Mussina (83) have a sizable edge over Smoltz (69.5), per Baseball-Reference.

Of course, we’ve yet to mention the three seasons Smoltz spent slamming the door as Atlanta’s closer. Between 2002 and 2004, the right-hander racked up 144 saves, including an MLB-leading 55 in ’02. 

When Smoltz hung ’em up in 2009, he had 154 saves to pair with 213 wins. Both stats might be overrated, scoffed at by the sabermetrically inclined, but they’re eye-catching, which may at least partly explain the voting disparity.

Not everyone is impressed. As Grantland‘s Ben Lindberg notes:

The portrayal of Smoltz as a Swiss Army ace relies on shaky logic: Every elite starter has the ability to be a dominant closer, and Smoltz shouldn’t get extra credit for the fragility that temporarily forced his team to use him in a less valuable role. After all, Mussina wouldn’t be a better candidate if he’d taken a sabbatical from starting to pitch out of the bullpen for Baltimore.

It’s a salient point. Theoretically, Mussina and Schilling would have been equal if they’d tried their hand at ninth-inning duties. Heck, they might have been better.

The fact is, though, we’ll never know. Smoltz is the only one who pitched consistently out of the pen, and he put up some imposing numbers to stack next to the dominant stats he compiled as a starter.

OK, what about the postseason? Many a HOF candidacy has been made—or broken—on October performance.

This is where Smoltz and Schilling gain a little separation from Mussina. Here are the three pitchers’ key stats, this time for the playoffs and World Series only:

It’s not that Mussina embarrassed himself under the bright autumn glare, but the numbers (ERA specifically) put him a step off the pace.

And, unlike Smoltz and Schilling, he never won a ring. Fair or not, that’s something many voters consider.

Speaking of factors worth weighing, let’s swing the pendulum back in Mussina’s favor and point out that he pitched his entire 18-year career with the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles in the hitter-friendly American League East.

Plus, he’s the only member of the HOF-hopeful troika who never tossed an inning in the National League, where the pitchers hit and the DH is a dirty word.

So you see how this goesback and forth, point counterpoint. Why not simply let all three in?

Peter Gammons, no doubt an authority on the subject, says that’s the ticket, writing on Daily Gammons that Smoltz is a “no-doubter,” while Schilling and Mussina also belong on baseball’s most hallowed post-career stage.

All three, Gammons points out, pitched in the heart of the steroid era, “a time period in which we do not choose to elect Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and some others because of their suspected PED usage.”

But with Martinez and Johnson first-ballot locks and plenty of worthy position players in the mix, the math gets tricky.

For what it’s worth, I put Smoltz on my unofficial Bleacher Report ballot and left off Schilling and Mussina.

It was a difficult decision. In the end, I was swayed (I’ll admit) by the 150 saves and the fact that Smoltz, even more than Maddux and Glavine, was the connecting thread throughout the Braves’ magnificent run of 14 consecutive division titles between 1991 and 2005. 

Still, I think Schilling and Mussina belong in the Hall. I also happen to think players like Bonds and Roger Clemens should be there, steroid stench aside. I suspect other writers whose votes actually count faced a similar dilemma.

Schilling garnered just 29.2 percent in 2014 and Mussina a scant 20.3. This will be Schilling’s third year of eligibility and Mussina’s second; it’s conceivable both could fall off entirely in the future, though almost certainly not this year. (Only five percent is needed to stay on the ballot.) 

Even if you view both pitchers as borderline HOF talents, those vote totals are surprisingly low. Particularly for Schilling, who combines impressive stats with big-game mythology. Have we forgotten the bloody sock already?

Here’s what Schilling told MLB.com‘s Ian Browne in 2014 after he missed the cut:

Whether I believe [I belong] or what I think is irrelevant. I know what I did. At the end of the day, when I think about my career, the thing I always tell people that I wanted when I started was, I wanted to have a career where the 24 guys I suited up with, if their life depended on a win or a loss, who would they want to have the ball? I wanted to be that guy.

He was that guy; so were Smoltz and Mussina. The question now is whether they’ll be guys with busts in a museum in Otsego County, New York. 

In a way, it doesn’t matter; their individual achievements stand tall regardless. But in another way, it matters a lot.

That’s what makes the Hall of Fame special and confounding all at once, and what makes these questions so damn tough.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

New York Yankees’ 5 Best Offseason Signings of the Last Decade

Over the last 20 years, the New York Yankees have claimed five World Series championships, seven American League Pennants and five AL East titles. The success of the Yankees has come in large part from the homegrown talents of the “Core Four.”

Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte were certainly the faces of the Yankees dynasty—and arguably the most eccentric part of the success the Yankees had. However, the shrewd moves in free agency are what helped build this team into the force it has become.

Over the past two decades, there have certainly been some great free-agent signings by Brian Cashman, as well as some bad ones. Guys like Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia have certainly contributed to recent success for the team, but what about the guys in the 1990s? What about the guys who helped the Yankees win four championships in five years? What about guys like Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and David Wells?

This article will break down the Yankees five best free-agent signings of the past two decades, and it somehow manage to rank them. I will do that by looking not only at the statistics, because gaudy numbers do not necessarily lead to positive results.


Stats are helpful, but this article will go beyond the statistics and rank the Yankees top five free-agent signings of the past decade according to value to the team and contributions to overall team success.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Free Agency: Ranking the 10 Best Signings for the Yankees in Recent History

We’re getting closer and closer to the 2011 season ending and the free agency period for baseball to begin.

In my last article, I did a history of the top 10 worst free agency signings for the Yankees.

The ones I reviewed were of recent history.

This will be the complete opposite of that.

This one will be the top 10 best free agency signings in recent history for the Yankees.

Since 1995, the Yankees have missed the playoffs only one time, won the American League East division title 11 times, appeared in seven World Series and won five championships.

A lot of that has to do with the Yankees making the right moves to land free agents.

This list was a lot harder to put together because of who was an actual free agent and who got traded.

For example, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, John Wetteland and Cecil Fielder were all results of the Yankees making trades and won’t be on this list.

Nope, this is strictly free agency moves.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Playoffs 2010: Hope Survives, Teams That Came Back Down Two Games To None

Three of this year’s division series seem all but over. 

The Yankees, Phillies, and Rangers lead their best of five division series by two games to none.  Only a late inning rally by the Atlanta Braves prevented all four baseball series from being two games to none affairs and feeling all but over.

Baseball has been playing five game series since 1969.  In that year baseball added four new teams and expanded each league to two divisions. 

From 1969 to 1984 the winners of the Eastern and Western divisions in each league faced of against each other in a five game set to determine who would go to the World Series.

Starting in 1985, baseball changed the five-game format of the league championship to the current best-of-seven.

When the Wild Card was introduced in 1994 and four teams from each league began to make the playoffs, baseball again used the five-game series to determine the two winners in the divisional round. 

In all there have exactly 100 best-of-five playoff series in baseball since 1969.  In seven of them, a team has trailed two games to none and come back to win the series.

This slide show is a look at the seven ball clubs who accomplished the feat. 

For those in Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Tampa Bay, this is a reminder that there is still hope. 

Begin Slideshow

Mike Mussina Was Not the Leader of the Anti-World Series Champions

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

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Blown Call of the Decade: Kerwin Danley

Being an umpire in Major League Baseball is though and unlike other major sports instant replay does not benefit them because it is not used. In fact when talk of adding it has been brought up it immediately is struck down because the thought is that it takes away the human element of the game and it would slow the game down.

Baseball is a long game already so the argument that the game would be longer doesn’t sit right. The second part is that yes there’s a human element to the game, but when it costs a team a win or momentum in a game that’s when instant replay needs to become available.

A team should not lose because an umpire blew a call. It happened last year with Matt Holliday who was called safe at home when the Oakland A’s had come back from a big deficit, but the reality is Holliday was out.

Even last year in the playoffs it happened when the Minnesota Twins were taking on the New York Yankees. Mauer hin the ball down into the left field corner and the ball landed right on the chalk, which means fair ball instead Phil Cuzzi ruled the ball foul.

Even with those two examples it doesn’t even compare to the biggest missed call of the decade. This one again involved the New York Yankees, but they were taking on the Oakland A’s in Oakland.

It’s time to go back and look at the play itself.

Begin Slideshow

Mike Mussina’s Near Miss Will Be Remembered For Ever(ett)


Mike Mussina once was a dominant pitcher, but never was he more masterful than on the night of Sept. 2, 2001 against the Boston Red Sox, when he came within one strike of pitching the fourth perfect game in Yankees’ history.

Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre noted, as he watched Mussina warm up in the bullpen before the game, that he was taken aback by the sharp drop on Mussina’s curve ball.

“It looked the same as David Wells’ curve ball on May 17, 1998.”


Mussina and David Cone Were in a Scoreless Game

By the sixth inning, Mussina had 11 strikeouts and had retired the first 18 batters on 70 pitches, but Red Sox pitcher David Cone, who had pitched a perfect game on Joe Torre’s birthday in 1999, was pitching his best game of the season.

It was a scoreless game and remained that way until the Yankees’ ninth inning.


The Yankees Score in the Ninth Inning

Tino Martinez led off with a single, but Jorge Posada flied out to left.

Paul O’Neill hit a double-play grounder to second base, but Lou Merloni couldn’t handle the hard shot. The ball went into right field as Martinez advanced to third.

Clay Bellinger ran for Martinez and scored the game’s only run when Enrique Wilson grounded out to first.


Mussina Had Come Close to a Perfect Game Twice Before

Mussina went out to the mound for the ninth.

Shea Hillenbrand hit a hard ground ball that appeared headed for right field, but Bellinger, who was playing first base after having run for Martinez, made a great diving stop to his right and threw to Mussina, covering first, for the out.

Mussina, who had retired the first 25 Cleveland Indians in 1997 before Sandy Alomar singled in the ninth, and who had retired the first 23 Detroit Tigers in 1998 before Frank Catalanatto doubled, thought that after Bellinger’s great play this would be the time.


Carl Everett’s Pinch Hit

Mussina struck out Merloni for the second out, bringing up Carl Everett, pinch hitting for Joe Oliver. Mussina had faced Everett on May 24 and struck him out four times on fast balls.

Mussina got ahead, 0-2 and then missed with a high fast ball.

The former Baltimore Orioles’ right-hander paused, stared at the ground, and took Posada’s sign. The crowd was eerily silent.

Mussina fired another high fast ball.

Everett ended the perfect game with a clean hit to left field.

Trot Nixon grounded to second to end the game.


It Felt As If We Lost

“I’m disappointed, obviously. I’m still disappointed. I’m going to think about that pitch until I retire. I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” Mussina said.

Torre, who had been in the stands for Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game in 1956, poignantly stated,

“It was supposed to happen.”

But Bellinger summed it up best. “It felt as if we lost the game.”



Olney, Buster. “Mussina Misses Yankees’ 4th Perfect Game by One Pitch.” New York Times. 3 September 2001, p. A1

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress