The announcement of former pitcher Mike Mussina being elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame was predictably met with a variety of emotions on Wednesday.
Even Mussina’s biggest supporters in Baltimore have a difficult time overcoming the awkwardness involved with his departure for the hated New York Yankees and cannot forget the countless games he pitched against the Orioles over his eight seasons in the Bronx. There’s no overcoming the feeling that Mussina was supposed to be a “lifer” in the same sense of Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, and Jim Palmer after he was drafted and developed by the Orioles in a similar manner.
However, a vocal minority of fans have voiced displeasure in his inclusion, citing him becoming a traitor for joining the Orioles’ biggest rival at the time. Even a few personal friends whose opinions I respect in regards to baseball and the Orioles shared this sentiment, in fact.
My only reply was, “Seriously?”
I covered the topic in more depth and offered my history lesson of the circumstances surrounding Mussina’s exit during Thursday’s edition of The Morning Reaction, which you can find in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault:
Though I would never go as far as saying anyone should lose sleep over the end result for Mussina — an $88 million contract and eight years of winning in New York obviously go a long way — nor would I take issue with fans’ decision to boo Mussina as a member of the Yankees, holding a grudge against the third-winningest pitcher in Orioles history is a simple case of misguided anger.
In researching his departure following the 2000 season, I found a quote made by the pitcher about the Orioles’ effort to keep him in Baltimore.
“Waiting as long as I did with nothing happening, it was just disappointing. If they really wanted me to come back, I think they would have done a little more.”
Reading that poignant comment nearly 12 years later, it’s the same general feeling shared by many who’ve witnessed the demise of a once-proud franchise and by others who have ultimately turned their backs at some point along the way.