Congratulations from YFSF to Mike Mussina on his career-first 20 win season—an extraordinary accomplishment. It’s a cliche at this point to describe him as “crafty,” to talk about how he has “reinvented himself” now that he no longer throws in the mid (or even low) 90s, but it’s almost impossible, indeed it’s fruitless, not to do so. This year he pitched with guile, with intelligence, with impeccable control, and with some truly wicked stuff, and we hope he continues to do so next year for the Yanks. If not, he has capped a terrific career with a deserved milestone. Bravo.
PS: Our condolences to Mets fans. Shea, predictably, goes out just at it came in, with ignominy. We’ve never developed the soft spot for the Mets that some Yanks fan have sprouted over recent years; they’ll always be the enemy. So there isn’t a whole lot of sympathy in this house. That said, these are tough days for New York; a playoff run would have been good for New York, both emotionally and economically. Going down in flames, again….That’s exactly what we didn’t need from the boys from Shea.
PPS: This comment in the thread from Paul is so interesting it seems worth putting up top:
1992: Mussina wins 18 games and throws quality starts in five of nine no-decisions and three of five losses. Just one of his wins occurs in a non-quality start. He throws three shutouts and eight complete games, including a 10-strikeout one-hitter at Texas, and pitches into or completes the ninth inning another three times.
1994: The players’ strike costs Mussina at least eight starts in a 17-win season, during which he threw quality starts in three of four no-decisions and two of five losses while winning a non-quality start just three times. He went 7-1 in his final nine starts before the strike canceled the rest of the season.
1995: Mussina wins 19 games in the strike-shortened season and throws quality starts in two of his three no-decisions and one of nine losses, while none of his wins came in non-quality starts. He finishes the season with three straight complete games and two straight shutouts, giving up one run in 27 innings.
1996: Mussina wins 19 games again, and is denied his 20th when in his final start on Sept. 28, he exits having given up just one run in eight innings only to watch the Oriole bullpen blow the save in the ninth. It’s the third quality start in six no-decisions for Mussina, and the second in which he gave up just one run over eight.
1999: Mussina wins 18 games, thanks largely to three losses with game scores of 64, 72 and 75 — though he does have a larger percentage of non-quality wins. The Orioles nevertheless go 21-10 in his 31 starts.
2002: Mussina wins 18 games, twice losing in September after giving up two earned runs or fewer over seven or more innings. He also receives a no-decision that month despite allowing one unearned run in seven innings to Tampa Bay. In all, three of his five no-decisions are quality starts and four of his 10 losses. Only four wins were not quality starts.
2003: Mussina wins 17 games, in large part because six quality starts turned into no-decisions, including a game that ended in a 1-1 tie and another in which Mariano Rivera blew a 2-1 lead in the eighth. Mussina also threw quality starts in two of six losses and all but one of his wins.
I think this should be shown to any sportswriter firmly convinced in the value of using wins as an assessment of a pitcher’s season and seasonal win totals as an assessment of a career. Mussina’s overall record and accomplishments would be little changed with a few more lucky breaks — maybe just an additional 10-20 wins total — but Mussina would now have a whopping SEVEN 20-win seasons, and his Hall candidacy wouldn’t even be a debate.
Every pitcher goes through bad breaks, has a season or two where he should have won more games but didn’t, but I don’t know that any pitcher has had the misfortune Mussina has had consistently throughout his career when it comes to wins and losses despite playing for enough decent teams.
So congrats to him. He richly deserves it.