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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.

By Thomas Boswell  |  September 25, 2008; 10:53 AM ET
Categories:  Hall of Fame , Yankees  
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Next: Hold On a Minute, Boz...


Maybe Moose just needs to be in a few underwear ads to up is HoF credentials.

Posted by: SJF | September 25, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Well now | September 25, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Moose was never overwhelming, just really good for a long time. I never thought of him as an HOFer either.

Posted by: Lindemann | September 25, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Mussina's HOF candidacy is nowhere near the slam dunk Boz makes it out to be. His entire argument is based on wins, which is not the best way to measure a pitcher. Among contemporaries who spent most (or all) of their careers in the A.L., his ERA is significantly higher than both Pedro and Johan (and higher than Roy Halladay as well). Plus, he never won a World Series despite being on some damn good teams. In my mind, he's behind Maddux, Pedro, Glavine, Johan and Schilling among his contemporaries. Possibly Smoltz too. Moose has been a damn good pitcher, but that doesn't mean he's a slam dunk Hall of Famer.

Posted by: Brian | September 25, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for starting this blog. Helps make up a little bit for the minuscule coverage in the hard-copy Post (you'd never guess from today's coverage that there are some great races and great stories unfolding). As previous poster said, however, this blog should continue past the World Series. The most important ongoing story is of course the activities (or lack thereof) of the Nationals' front office. What the heck is going on there? Squabbles with the DC government, financial staff resigning, investigations of scouting operations in the DR, rumors about Kasten and Bowden's futures with the Nats--please give us more investigative reporting of these stories. Don't any of you want to win a Pulitzer prize?

Posted by: CapPeterson | September 25, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Who are these "Baltimore-Washington fans" of which you speak?

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | September 25, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Boz, have to call you out on the Boston fans booing the Moose. If he leaves the game as the pitcher of record and winning, he'll get a standing O, like they do for most older players at milestones.

Moose has gotten his share of cheers as a Yankee at Fenway. Recall that when Carl Everett broke up a Moose bid for a perfect game in 2002 (or a no hitter, I forget) at Fenway, the fans booed Everett. Of course, they always booed Everett. Especially the dinosaurs.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 25, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

What's a Balto-Washington fan? Count me in the Washington side and as far a Moose HOF campaign, count me down for "Nay".

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | September 25, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Washington side only for me (since you mentioned it). Great to see another blog for baseball generally, though.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 25, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I have never blamed Mike Mussina for leaving the Orioles, but I have always blamed him for going to the Yankees. At the time, I was rooting for him to join the Braves and the other fine pitchers they had on their roster at the time. I really loved Mussina when he was an Oriole, but now I cannot stand him because he is a Yankee.

Since he joined the Yankees, I have always had these wishes: May he never pitch a no-hitter, may he never win 20 games, may he never win the Cy Young, and may he never win a World Championship. So far, all of my wishes have been granted. That is why I will rooting against Mussina on Sunday.

Posted by: Tim Watson | September 25, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

As people have already stated, Moose was very good for a very long time, but he was never dominant. The pitchers Boz compares Moose to were (or are) "marquee" pitchers, people you would go to the game just to see. Bill Simmons at made the perfect point: at no time in Moose's career were fans saying, "Hey, Mike Mussina is pitching tonight, we gotta get tickets!" Moose certainly has a case, but Boz is way off to call it a shoo-in.

Posted by: John Dugan | September 25, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"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."

Slight correction: ages are as of July 1st of that year. For example, A-Rod is listed as being 32 this year although he turned 33 on July 27th.

Posted by: Tiber Creek | September 25, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

According to Bill James in the 2008 Gold Mine, in the history of baseball there are 23 pitchers with 220 wins and records at least 100 games above .500. 5 of those pitchers were active when James wrote that - Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Johnson, and Mussina. The other 18 are in the Hall of Fame.

Posted by: Tom | September 25, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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