An Oriole all the way

FACEOFF

If Mike Mussina Gets Into The Hall Of Fame, Should He Go In As An Oriole Or Yankee?

November 21, 2008|By RAY FRAGER

Mike Mussina won't get to decide whether his cap on a Hall of Fame plaque features a bird or the "NY" logo that can make Baltimore fans want to flip the bird. That call is up to the poohbahs of Cooperstown.

But listen up, you guys, it should be an Oriole.

Mike Mussina became Mike Mussina in Baltimore. Let's run some numbers: He spent 10 of his 18 major league seasons here. He recorded 147 of his 270 victories and 1,535 of his 2,813 strikeouts as an Oriole. All but eight of his 23 career shutouts came in orange and black. His five All-Star selections were as an Oriole.

Despite what Maese says - and my argument certainly is strengthened merely by the fact I disagree with him - his best seasons were probably 1994 and 1995 with the Orioles, years in which he likely would have won 20 games if not for schedules that were shortened by baseball's labor woes.

Yes, Mussina got to more postseasons and the World Series in New York, but his signature playoff performance came for the Orioles in 1997 - four games, 29 innings, four earned runs, 41 strikeouts.

Some fans might never forgive Mussina for spurning the Orioles for the bigger stage and bigger bucks of New York - though others would hold that the club blew its chance to keep him - but no one can deny he was a terrific pitcher in Baltimore.

Mussina's induction likely won't inspire bus caravans from Maryland to upstate New York, but given how long it might be before another Oriole enters Cooperstown, Baltimore fans should get to enjoy the enshrinement of the team's ace of the 1990s.

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