Mussina Deserves Plaque

April 02, 2012 | Tom Federline

Yes, Mike (the Moose) Mussina deserves to be  in the Orioles Hall of Fame. For nine seasons he was the best pitcher the Orioles had. In fact, considering duration, numbers, awards and leadership, I have him in my top three (3) Oriole pitchers of all time. When Mussina pitched what was the first thing that came to your mind? I would say to myself – “We have a chance.” He showed up, he was a great talent, he was all business. Let me repeat that – he was all business.

Back in 2001, was I a little miffed when Mussina went to the highest bidder and it just so happened it was the Yankees. You’re darn right I was. Did I wish losses on Mussina and the Yankees? You’re darn right I did. Did I ask myself, what would have I done? You’re darn right I did. And you know what my answer was – I would have been playing for the Yankees. Let’s see, I’m a free agent, the team that drafted me and my current employer does not want to pay me what others are willing to pay and I have a shot at going to the World Series………real tough decision. See you later Pete.

Mussina was active in the community and represented the Orioles with a respectful demeanor. He lived somewhat local and showed up when duty called. I recall a fond memory with Michael Mussina during an Orioles Fanfest. I was with my mother, daughter and nephews – kids were all under 10 – we stood in line to get our picture taken with him. My daughter sat on his lap, the boys straddling on both sides of him, he shook their hands, took time to chat with us, gave us autographs when we weren’t in the “autograph” line, he dismissed that whole “assembly line” atmosphere. He appeared genuine. 

There were also many a memory from the ball field. The most vivid was me, listening on the radio and pulling the car over to the side of the road for the ninth inning,  in anticipation of a “perfect game” against the Cleveland Indians. One out – two to go – Sandy Alomar gets a single (I had to go to confession immediately following the game) – Mussina strikes out the last two batters. 28 batters, a one-hit shut-out, O’s won 3-0.

Besides being an excellent pitcher, he was also an excellent fielder. I believe he has a few Gold Gloves tucked away in his trophy case. Remember, I am old school (old school should not come into play here) – but anyway – Where did he finish up after his delivery? In the fielding position! Did you ever see him falling off the mound, ala 75% of the pitchers in todays game? How about that goofball from last year – Michael Gonzalez? Just wasn’t right, now was it? When you went to Camden Yards, tuned in to the television or radio and Mike Mussina was pitching…………9 times out of 10, you were at least going to get a professional effort.

In my book, he deserves it more than some of the other “stretches” the Orioles have inducted 0ver the years; Lee May, Dennis Martinez, Eddie Watt, Chris Hoiles, Doug DeCinces, Gene Woodling, Stu Miller, etc. ? All pretty darn good players in their day, but Hall of Fame worthy? Guess it depends on who is voting. They ought to slow down on the number of inductees, because there is going to come a time when we may see…………Albert Belle, Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar going in. My goodness, if that ever happens we may reach the “Tipping Point”.

Congrats Mike Mussina. Any “Boo Birds” on August 25th, I will be happy to assist and deter those “challenged” individuals from venting their self-induced frustration. Mussina earned this award. Heck, he even invented a pitch – the knuckle/curve. I still do not quite understand the dynamics of that whole knuckle/curve scenario. I still do not care -it was one heckava pitch.

You do not get “Something for Nothing” – (RUSH). And by all means, Mike Mussina acquired the stats and had the work ethic to earn a place on the wall. He did not only perform at a high level, he gave the Orioles organization and the fans – hope. Do you remember what that felt like?