Tagged: Mike Mussina

Number 27

Well, the World Series is over, and the New York Yankees are once again the champions. New York celebrated with a parade yesterday and the presentation of the key to the city.

Congratulations to the Yankees…you were the best team in baseball this year, and you truly deserve this.

ws_trophy.jpegAnyone who has bothered to read about me, or who has read some of the first few posts in this blog, knows that I became a Yankees fan — actually a baseball fan — because of former Orioles and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. In the last paragraph of this post, I stated that I knew the Yankees would win because had Mussina retired one year too soon. I was right.

I’ve been thinking about Mussina through the entire postseason, as well as through much of the latter half of the regular season. Earlier in the season, when the Yankees were 0-8 vs. Boston and lost 2 out of 3 games to the 19-46 Nationals, including their only shutout at Yankee Stadium, I admit that I had a few doubts about how this season might turn out! But then I reminded myself that Moose had retired, which meant that the Yankees would, in fact, pull it out and somehow and win it all. I’m pleased that the Yankees won. I didn’t particularly want the Phillies to beat them, nor did I want the Phillies to win the World Series two years in a row regardless of who their opponent was. I’m happy for the “old guys” — Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — for getting ring #5. I’m happy for Alex Rodriguez, because even though I can’t stand the little fart, he managed to shut out all the distractions and all the crap (self-inflicted, of course), and he just played the game…quite well, in fact. (If he could just learn to simply play ball and keep his mouth shut, he’d be far less insufferable.) And I’m especially happy for Hideki Matsui, who has dealt with his share if injury issues in recent years. His knees may be shot, but his bat was more than enough in Game 6, and his MVP Award is well-deserved. If this turns out to be his final performance for the Yankees, it was one hell of a way to make an exit.

And yet………

I can’t help but feel some pangs of sadness, disappointment, and even some anger over this win…a year too late…actually, eight years too late. The Yankees should have won #27 eight years ago Wednesday night…that horse was long since been bludgeoned to death on my message board, so I don’t really want go there in depth again. In all honesty, those feelings do temper my happiness about Wednesday night’s win. I can’t help it, I won’t make excuses for it, and I won’t apologize for it…that’s just the way it is.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Mussina remains happy and at peace with his decision to retire. But I also remember his comments on WFAN back in February, when he mentioned his disappointment at never having gotten a World Series ring. This just seems to be his lot, considering how many “almosts” he’s had in his career. I’m sure Mike is happy for his former teammates, but I can’t help wondering if he’s feeling a bit of disappointment that #27 came a year too late for him. I know I’m certainly disappointed. I’m sure that it bothers me far more than it bothers him. But I do wonder what he might have been thinking the other night after the Yankees won Game 6. I was thinking, Just his luck…he got there a year too late and left a year too early…….

What can I say…I’m definitely NOT a typical Yankees fan! LOL

Look out…here come the Yankees!

Another long gap between blog posts. I really didn’t intend to let a month pass between mylast post and this one…but life happens.

The regular season is over, and the Yankees are once again the AL East champions. The irony of this title is the fact that it was clinched with a sweep of the Red Sox, against whom the Yankees were 0-8 at one point this season. The Yankees ended up splitting the season series with Boston.

The ALDS had the potential to be a fierce battle.

2009ALDS.png The Twins had made a ferocious comeback against the Tigers at the end of the season, winning 5 of their last 8 games against Detroit, including a wild one-game playoff, to win the AL Central title. But that last game may have been a bit too much for the Twins…or maybe it’s just the Yankees that are too much for the Twins. The Yankees are up 2 games to none in the ALDS, thanks to a 9th inning home run by Alex Rodriguez to tie Game 2 and an 11th inning home run by Mark (The $180,000,000 Man) Teixeira in Friday’s game.

tex_walkoff.jpg

Photo Credit: yahoo.com

So much for a fierce battle. Now it looks like the only “battle” will be to see which Yankee ends the ALDS with the most RBIs — Derek Jeter, Teixeira or Rodriguez.

I must admit that I had some concerns about the Yankees, going into the ALDS. With the exception of the 2004 ALDS — ironically enough, vs. the Twins — A-Rod’s postseason performances as a Yankee had been pretty horrendous. CC Sabathia’s recent postseason performances had been less than stellar as well. Both have eased my concerns…in a big way.

arod.jpg cc.jpg

I am very confident that the Yankees will win the World Series this year. My confidence is based partly on how the team itself has performed this season, and partly on the fact that Mike Mussina retired. Stay with me here, people…if you have read my profile here at MLBlogs, then you know I became a Yankees fan when Mussina signed with the Yankees on November 30, 2000. After Mariano Rivera’s blown save ended the 2001 World Series, I wondered if Mussina had joined the Yankees a year too late to be a part of the “Dynasty.” When Moose retired without having gotten a World Series ring, I wondered if he left a year too early. It would be just Mike’s luck to retire the year before the Yankees not only return to the postseason but also the year before they finally win another World Series.

Anyway…go Yankees!

The return of the Moose

Back in July, a friend and I went up to New York from Maryland, and met up with some friends at the new Yankee Stadium, to see Mike Mussina pitch again. No, the Yankees didn’t re-sign him…Mike took part in the Yankees annual Old-Timers game. It was fun but also a little bittersweet seeing Mike in pinstripes again. I’ve been a Mussina fan for a long time, and I miss hearing/reading about him pitching every fifth day. Mike wasn’t exactly effective in his Old-Timers game debut, givng up hit after hit to guys who are old enough to be his father. But then, his defense also consisted of guys who are old enough to be his father, and they didn’t exactly make the strongest of efforts to get to balls hit in their general direction!

wtf.jpgSeeing the Old-Timers game was fun, though not nearly as meaningful to me as it was for the long-time Yankee fan friends I met up with at the Stadium. I’ve been a Yankees fan only since Mike Mussina signed with the Yankees, so the Yankees pre-Mussina history means little to me. (That’s just one of the many ways I differ from the typical Yankees fan…I’m pretty atypical, in fact…but I digress….)

I enjoyed seeing the new ballpark. I’m pleased to see that the design stayed true to history. The Yankees could have gone in an entirely different direction and built a stadium with a very modern look rather than a traditional look, but I really think if they had done so, the fans would have revolted!

I also enjoyed watching the actual Yankees game. I had been hoping that Joba Chamberlain would pitch in that game, and he did…and the Yankees defeated the Tigers, 2-1.

I took a bunch of photos that day. You can take a look at them here.

Mussina returning to pitch again

Newly retired Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina has accepted an invitation to participate in the Old Timers’ Day Game on July 19th at Yankee Stadium.

(What’d you think I meant by my title for this blog entry?! He’s retired people…no, he’s not coming back!)

Thanks to my friend Carissa, who got the tickets for that day’s game vs. the Tigers, I will be making a one day trip to Yankee Stadium to see the “Geezer Game” as well as that day’s game against Detroit. Can’t wait…I’m really looking forward to seeing Yankee Stadium in person!

I wonder if I should wear my Moose Hat to the Geezer Game…..

shelleyandmike081002.jpg

Mixed results

The Yankees and Nationals had different, but not surprising, results in their respective games tonight.

Yankees:

The Yankees defeated the Mets tonight, 9-8, thanks to an error by Luis Castillo in the 9th inning. This was a crazy game, to say the least…..

The Yankees jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning on Robinson Cano’s home run.

The Mets came right back in the 3rd inning to regain the lead, 2-1

The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 3rd.

The Mets jumped out to a 6-3 in the top of the 5th inning.

The Yankees scored a run in the bottom of the 5th.

The Yankees regained the lead in the 6th inning, 7-6.

Then the Mets tied the game in the 7th.

The Mets took the lead, 8-7, in the 8th inning.

And then, finally, the Yankees scored two runs in the bottom of the inning, when Luis Castillo dropped a 2 out pop-up off the bat of Alex Rodriguez, allowing Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira to score the tying and winning runs, respectively. The final score was 9-8.

Whew…it was exhausting just typing all of that. I can’t imagine how tiring it must have been to watch the game in person, much less to play in it!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Postscript to the Yankees/Red Sox series: the last Yankees pitcher to win a game against the Red Sox was Mike Mussina. It was his 20th win of the season last year.


Nationals:

And then, there were the Nationals, who lost to the Rays tonight, 4-3. Pitching into the 6th inning, starter Craig Stammen, did a decent job, putting his team into a position to win. But the 3 runs that the Nats scored in the 1st inning were all they could manage. And then, with 2 outs in the 8th, Nick Johnson misplayed a pop-up in foul territory. Instead of the inning coming to an end, Gabe Kapler stepped up to the plate and hit the home run that won the game for the Rays.

SSDD…same stuff, different day. Another day, another loss.

Yankees vs. Orioles

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…I am not a typical Yankee fan by any means, and I truly enjoy a Yankees victory over the Orioles more than a Yankees victory over the Red Sox. Tonight, the Yankees made me very happy by routing the Orioles, 9-1, for their 7th straight win. CC Sabathia’s third start of the season vs. the Orioles wasn’t quite as dominating as his second start (complete game shutout on May 8th), but it was still very good. The big fella pitched 7 strong innings, giving up just 1 run on 3 hits, with a walk and 7 strikeouts. Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko each pitched 1 perfect inning to close out the win.

Just as he did in his first game of the season, also against the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez had only one hit — a home run. This was the fourth straight game in which he hit a home run. Mark Teixeira also hit a home run. I guess he figured that since Orioles fans insist on booing him, he might as well give them a real reason to do so!

Orioles’ rookie pitcher Brad Bergesen had been wearing jersey number 64, but he changed his number ro 35 before the game. Not surprisingly, considering the way my mind works, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was any significance in the Orioles giving Bergesen the number 35 before the Yankees game; former Orioles and Yankees pitch Mike Mussina wore the number 35. (I doubt that there was any significance at all to this change…I think I’m just paranoid.)

All in all, and great game and a great win!


Now that the Orioles have come to Yankee Stadium, it will be interesting to see what happens on Thursday, when they will face Joba Chamberlain. Back on the 10th in Baltimore, Aubrey Huff hit a home run off of Chamberlain and set off a firestorm of criticism from Yankees fans when he pretty much mocked Joba Chamberlain’s post strikeout gesticulations as he ran the bases. Huff emphatically pumped his fist after rounding first base and pumped it even more emphatically after crossing home plate. I’ve seen Yankees fans comment in blogs and on message boards that Huff went over the line and was showing up Chamberlain. Apparently, Chamberlain’s enthusiastic post strikeout antics get on opponents’ nerves, so Huff seemed to decide that Chamberlain deserved a taste of his own medicine.

I think Huff is an idiot in general, but I must admit to being amused by (a) what he did, and (b) the fact that so many Yankees fans are so ticked off about it. While I do  like Chamberlain’s enthusiasm as much as anyone, I can also understand why some players feel that he’s “showing up” the opposition when he does that stuff on the mound. I suspect that Huff’s fist pumps are something that a lot of other players would like to do…he just had the chutzpah to actually do it. Was Huff over the line? Yep. Was he trying to make a statement with what he did? You betcha. I do think that he (or a teammate) will pay for it with a fastball in the ribs at some point during this series. After all, these guys may be grown men, but they’re making a living playing a child’s game, and therefore often act like children.

I can’t help but wonder how Yankee fans would react if it was Josh Beckett rather than Joba Chamberlain who got so animated after his strikeouts, and if it was Nick Swisher who put on a Huff-like display following a HR off Beckett, I guarantee that most Yankee fans would be singing a different tune about it. I bet Swish would have gotten a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium! It’s OK for OUR GUY do this but it’s but not OK if YOUR GUY does it. Sports fans in general are pretty hypocritical that way…it’s really rather amusing.

I am shameless!

Lots of blogs are calling on their readers to vote for their team’s players in the All-Star Game. I, on the other hand, am requesting that you vote for ME.

No, I’m not trying to be able to play in the All-Star Game.

I’m trying to win one of THESE. In case you don’t read Jane’s brilliant Confessions of a She-Fan blog (and shame on you if you don’t!), Jane is holding a contest on her blog, and the prize is one of those cool little video cameras. Jane asked her readers to submit photos of themselves during their favorite “fan moment,” and the readers must now choose a winner among the selected photos. I, of course, submitted a photo of my favorite fan moment — when former Orioles and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina presented me with a game-issued glove as a token of his appreciation. And now, I humbly request that you please go HERE and vote for me — Shelley, #15.

I have no shame whatsoever! LMAO

Oh, and if you want to know more about the photo I submitted for the contest, you can read about it here.

Thank you in advance for your vote!

Rays 8, Yankees 6

Despite a 4-5 performance, including 4 RBI, from Johnny Damon, the Yankees lost to Tampa Bay. This is the second straight 2-game series sweep of the Yankees by and AL East opponent. The Yankees have now lost 5 straight games and have won only 1 game so far this month. Pitching continues to be a concern, not just with the bullpen now but also the starters. Andy Pettitte wasn’t particularly impressive tonight, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits in 6 innings, including 4 home runs. Even Mariano Rivera, who most Yankee fans believe could walk on water without getting his feet wet, gave up 2 home runs. Only the Cleveland Indians have a higher team ERA than the Yankees…even the Nationals have a better team ERA than the Yankees (5.26 vs. 5.77, though that could change after tonight’s game). As someone stated on my message board:

This is the toughest division in MLB and it’s possible to be out of the race by Memorial Day.

Indeed. If the Yankees don’t get their crap together soon, that may be their fate.

If you have read the first few entries in this blog, then you know that I became a Yankees fan when they signed Mike Mussina. Now that Moose is retired, I really thought I’d miss him a lot in this first season after his retirement…but I gotta say, I’m glad he’s not a part of this train wreck.

Yankees preview and random ramblings about the upcoming season

Brand new stadium. Same old expectations.

The New York Yankees are heading into the 2009 season with a new home, some new faces, and the usual  expectations of winning it all. After missing the postseason for the first time since 1994 and then spending $424 million on free agents, the Yankees are once again expected to win the World Series. The front office, the players,  the media, and the fans all have high hopes for the team this season. That’s nothing new; however, the failure to reach the postseason last year, and the astronomical amount of money spent on free agents has raised the stakes considerably. I can only imagine how frustrated and furious the Steinbrenners were when the Yankees were unable  to clinch a spot in the 2008 postseason, which is why they (once again) broke the bank to sign the top free agents. My guess is that heads will roll (Cashman’s? Girardi’s?) if the Yankees fail to win it all in 2009.

Gone from the 2008 starting rotation are Mike Mussina (retired), Sidney Ponson (Kansas City), and Darrell Rasner  (Japan). Also gone from the team is Carl Pavano (Cleveland)…not that anyone would notice or care, since he played in less than 30 games in 4 years for the Yankees. Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain have returned, and are joined by expensive newcomers CC Sabathia (7 years, $161 million) and A.J. Burnett (5 years, $82.5 million). This rotation looks extremely good on paper…one of the team’s strengths. Wang missed most of last season with a  broken foot, so his health will be one of the keys to the Yankees rotation. Burnett’s health could also be a question  mark, since he has been somewhat injury prone during his career. The biggest key to the rotation, of course, will be Sabathia. He has been a workhorse for most of his career — he had 10 complete games in 2008 — continuing this  trend will, obviously, help the Yankees bullpen. The concern about Sabathia is whether or not he’ll be able to handle playing under the microscope that is the New York Yankees. He supposedly was reluctant to play in New York…it will  be interesting to see how he responds to the pressure from the media and the fans. Also of interest will be how  Chamberlain performs as a starter for an entire season. Personally, I think he should remain in the bullpen and be groomed as Mariano Rivera’s successor. In my very un-expert opinion, Chamberlain’s personality seems to be far more suited to that of a closer than that of a starter. I realize he’s still young, but he can’t be a particularly effective starter if he can only pitch 5 innings. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up back in the bullpen at  some point this season.

Speaking of the bullpen, this could be a problem area if Mariano Rivera is not fully recovered from shoulder surgery or suffers another injury…not out of the question for a 39 year old pitcher. Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Phil Coke, and Jose Veras pitched well this spring. The Yankees will need those good performances to continue through the regular season. Brian Bruney will also have to perform well. If Rivera is healthy, the bullpen could be another of the Yankee’s strengths.

The lineup will start off with a problem…the absence of Alex Rodriguez, who is recovering from hip surgery. Cody Ransom will fill in at third base until Rodriguez returns. Considering all of the off-the-field issues with Rodriguez, the  time off for his recovery may actually help him prepare for the season without all of the drama related distractions. Like fellow free agent Sabathia, first baseman Mark Teixeira — the biggest free agent signing of the offseason — must learn how to handle the pressure of playing in New York in order to perform well on offense and defense. Hideki  Matsui and Jorge Posada are both recovering from injuries; they need to stay healthy for the Yankees to be successful. With Bobby Abreu gone, Xavier Nady takes over as the Yankees right fielder, having (surprisingly) won the job over Nick Swisher. Brett Gardner gets the nod as the starting center fielder over Melky Cabrera. And then there is Derek Jeter, who, at age 34, is still a good hitter and a good shortstop, but is no longer great at either. Depth may be an issue for the Yankees, particularly if Rodriguez, Matsui, Posada, and Rivera are unable to stay healthy.

Considering the $424 million spending spree, some people will scream about the Yankees buying another championship if the Yankees do manage to win the World Series this year. And the fact is, those screamers will have a point…an extremely small one, but a point nonetheless. As recent history has proven, it does take more than baseball’s biggest payroll to win the World Series. The Yankees did not violate any rules by spending all of that money. But the fact is that no other team could afford to spend the kind of money that the Yankees spent during the offseason. And that is precisely why people claim — perhaps unfairly — that the Yankees will have bought a(nother) World Series title.

As I said, expectations are sky high for the Yankees this year. Anything less than a World Series championship will  be considered a disappointment, if not a failure.

My prediction for the Yankees 2009 record is 95-67, with a first place finish in the AL East in a very close race with Boston…perhaps as close as just 2 or 3 games. Will the Yankees win the World Series? Definitely…maybe! (Sorry…I’m not bold enough to make THAT prediction.)

A very special gift

Several times in this blog, I’ve mentioned the fact that my favorite ballplayer is — or, rather, was — Mike Mussina, newly retired pitcher for the Yankees (and earlier, the Orioles). Years ago, I had a web site dedicated to him, along with a discussion board. The web site itself is long gone (didn’t have time to keep the stats and photo gallery sections up to date), but the discussion board is still around. (We celebrated our 10th anniversary last month.) Mike himself knew about the web site and knows about my discussion board. Over the years, my board has hosted auctions to help raise money for his foundation, listed upcoming Mussina fan club events, and given his fans a place to hang out and talk about him in particular and the teams he played for in general.

As a member of Mike’s fan club since I first found out about it in 1997, I’ve attended 11 of his fan appreciation dinners over the years. The dinner that took place this past January was the final fan club dinner, since Mike has retired, and he did something at that dinner that absolutely blew me away.

To thank me for all of my efforts with my web site, discussion board, the fan club, and a video tribute I created for him, he presented me with one of his game issued gloves. He also gave my friend Doris a game issued glove to thank her for her own efforts in helping out with the fan club and the fan club dinners, as well as the gifts she’s given him over the years. The gloves were not game used, but they were the kind of gloves he used in games. Needless to say, Doris and I were completely shocked, amazed, touched, and thrilled beyond belief! We couldn’t believe he would do something like that for us, especially in front of the 200+ dinner attendees. My friend Linda got a photograph of the glove presentation:

thegift.jpg(I’m the short one in the middle.)

I was truly proud of myself for not (a) crying, (b) fainting, or (c) falling on my face as I walked back to my table with the glove in my hand!

A close-up look at the glove:

glove1small.jpgI already have quite a few other items autographed by Mike, so I really didn’t need another autograph. But, of course, I had to have him sign that glove.

glove2small.jpgI do wish I’d asked him to sign the edge of the webbing, or somewhere closer to where his name is stitched. But hey, I’m still pretty thrilled with this souvenir!

A lot of people view Mike Mussina as cold, aloof, and overly serious. The media defintely portrayed him that way. He was very serious and intense about his work. But those of us who got to know Mike through his fan club events (luncheons, dinners and meet & greets) know what a charming, friendly, kind, funny, and generous guy he really is. Mike wasn’t someone who spent a lot of time signing autographs before or after games, but he got close to his fans via his fan club luncheons and dinners (an annual event) and his two yearly meet & greets at Yankee Stadium and Oriole Park. When he played for Baltimore, he also took part in their annual FanFest event. Mike was definitely one of the good guys, who genuinely cared about his fans. The very special gift he gave to me (and to my friend) is certainly proof of that.

I will always treasure that glove.