Mussina Deserves Hall of Fame -- Already
Most Career Wins Above .500 since 1920
1) Roger Clemens +170
2) Lefy Grove +159
3) Randy Johnson +135
4) Whitey Ford +130
5) Greg Maddux +128
6) Warren Spahn +118
7) Mike Mussina +117
8) Jim Palmer +117
9) Pedro Martinez +115
10) Mordecai (Three Finger) Brown +109
11) Tom Seaver +106
12) Bob Feller +104
13) Tom Glavine +102
14) Juan Marichal +101
15) Carl Hubbell +99
Nobody else over +90.
Everybody in the list above is already in the Hall of Fame or a cinch to make it.
Mike Mussina is, too. He just doesn't know it.
For comparison with others on this ultra-elite list of winners, Mussina already has more career wins (269) than Ford (236), Palmer (268), Feller (266), Martinez (214), Hubbell (253), Brown (239) and Marichal (243)!
Those who think that Mussina, 39, does not belong in Cooperstown already are, almost certainly, out of their minds. Yet one of those people appears to be Moose himself.
Mussina seems to think that, to make the Hall, he must win 20 games at least once in his career. So, he'll do anything to make it. Including continue to pitch after being hit on the elbow by a line drive, as he did Tuesday. And start the last Yankee game of the season on Sunday in Boston if swelling subsides enough for him to throw a ball 60 feet 6 inches. Maybe underhand, if necessary. He seems desperate. He shouldn't be.
Calm down, Mike. And if you can barely lift your arm on Sunday, don't take the mound and injure yourself. Because -- something else you don't know -- anybody who can win 19 games at age 39 is virtually certain to reach 300 wins. You're already IN.
After a five-shutout-inning win Tuesday in Toronto, in which he got the last eight outs despite a bleeding arm, Mussina raised his record to 19-9. After the game, Yank manager Joe Girardi said the stitches of the ball were visible on Mussina's elbow and Mike acknowldged he couldn't even reach back to touch his shoulder blades. But he'll go Sunday in the Fens, modern medicine and guts willing.
Good luck. Everybody in baseball will be rooting for Mussina, including the Baltimore-Washington fans who enjoyed his first nine magnificent seasons as an Oriole. Oh, except maybe the packed house in Boston. Will they have the gall to boo? (Probably.)
Some doubt that Mussina can win 31 more games to reach 300 after his 40th birthday. Is that right? Well, Baseball Reference provides the number of wins by pitchers at various ages -- with the minor distinction that you are 40 if your 40th birthday falls during any part of that season. In fairly recent memory, we have seen Jamie Moyer (81 wins), Nolan Ryan (71), Johnson (64), Clemens (61), David Wells (54), Gaylord Perry (47), Kenny Rogers (43) and Don Sutton (44). Glavine, not retired, has won 30 in his 40s. It's hard work. But Mussina's 3.47 ERA this seasons means he's more than capable.
A few may argue that Mussina has been such a "winner" because he played with superior teams. That's true -- sort of. His Baltimore teams had a combined .515 percentage and he pitched in the late-fading stages of the Yankee dynasty, though never for a world champion. But plenty of other great pitchers had even better support.
Most conspicuously, Jim Palmer whose O's teams were even better than Mussina's.
Career records: Mussina 269-154. First-ballot HOFer Palmer 268-153.
Case closed. But cross your fingers Sunday, anyway.
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