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Mike Mussina (aka Moose)

Ht: 6-2, Wt: 185 lbs, DOB: 12.8.1968, POS: RHSP, Team: New York Yankees

Year
Wins
IP
K's
ERA
1991
4
87.2
52
2.88
1992
18
241
130
2.54
1993
14
167.2
117
4.46
1994
16
176.1
99
3.06
1995
19
221.2
158
3.29
1996
19
243.1
204
4.81
1997
15
224.2
218
3.21
1998
13
206.1
175
3.49
1999
18
203.1
178
3.50
2000
11
237.2
210
3.79
2001
17
228.2
214
3.15
2002
18
215.2
182
4.15
2003
17
214.2
195
3.40
2004
12
164.2
132
4.59


The Orioles drafted a young righty out of High School in the June 1987 draft. He had already signed a national letter of intent to go to Stanford, though, so he enrolled in college instead. After three and a half years, the right hander had finished an economics degree and was drafted once again by the Orioles and Ed Sprague signed him. This righty was Mike Mussina.

Now pitching for the Yankees, Mussina is a terrific pitcher. He ranks among the best of pitchers in MLB in painting the black and whenever a batter makes contact off him, it is usually not very good contact. Moose throws a low-90s fastball, along with a cutter and changeup. He mixes in a splitter, as well as having one of the best pitches in MLB in the knuckle curve.

So, what all has Moose done in his career? Well, he has a career 211 career victories, the largest for an active player who has never won a World Series. As a thirty-five year old, that is a high figure, but he is a very long shot to reach 300. His career has been very good so far and his future seems bright, but coming towards an end. So who is this guy?

Well, he has never won a World Series, not even the Little League World Series (he was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania). He has never won 20 games (19 games twice and 18 thrice) nor a Cy Young Award (he has finished in the top 10 eight times). He also has had two perfect games broken up in the ninth inning (versus Cleveland and Boston).

So, what does he think about all this “bad luck”? He doesn’t.

“I don’t really think that much about it,” Mussina said. “Obviously we’re playing this game to win. But I came over here just wanting to get to the World Series, to have a chance to win. I’ve been fortunate enough to be on championship teams, but you get in these series and you don’t know what’s going to happen.

“I’d like to get to one and win one [World Series ring],” Moose said. “I’d like to win 11 games in the postseason and walk off the field the only team that wins the last game. But I don’t think I’ll look back on my career when I’m done and say ‘I didn’t win a World Series, I didn’t win 20 games, I didn’t win a Cy Young, so it was a failure.’ I’m certainly not going to look at it that way. There’s just no way I can.”

Despite this “bad luck” Mr. Almost is still quite a great pitcher, despite never reaching such accolades. He has a career 3.59 ERA, which, in this day and age, is a good figure. And now he is the anchor of the Yankees rotation heading into Postseason 2004. In Game One of the ALCS, Mike Mussina will face Curt Schilling in one of the biggest series of all time.

“He understands big games and understands pressure, but he doesn’t ever put anything extra on himself,” Mel Stottlemyre, the Yankees pitching coach, said. “He handles that very well and is aware of what he can do and what he can’t do.”

We’ll see what he can do in Game 1 of the ALCS (Tuesday October 12th at 8 PM EST, on FOX). We know Curt Schilling will be bringing his best stuff and be ready to compete, so Mr. Almost will have to be almost perfect to get a win toward his ultimate dream: The World Championship ring.

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