Tom Boswell has a fine appreciation of Mike Mussina--not to mention Josh Beckett--in The Washington Post today. Boswell covered Moose when he was a young pitcher coming up wtih the Orioles, and probably understands the acerbic right-hander as well as anyone:
Though it hardly seems possible, Mussina will be 35 in a few weeks. Once, greatness seemed his certain destiny. Now, a lasting place in baseball history is almost out of his grasp; instead, mere excellence may be the consolation prize that galls him all his life. For this driven perfectionist who still thinks he can win 300 games and be a Hall of Famer, this was the night when he needed to prove to his harsh adopted town that he was a big-game pitcher.
... It was Mussina's raw courage -- the quality for which he is given the least credit -- that ultimately marked this game as a prize worthy of any Series.
...For Mussina...this first World Series victory will have to suffice for many years of frustrations, so many figurative rain delays which have stood between him and historic greatness. For this one night, every promise he ever showed was fulfilled.
I understand why New Yorkers are quick to criticize Mussina. They are looking for results, not the process. But I think that Mussina is a great pitcher, and in fact, I probably find him more appealing because he's had some rotten luck over the course of his career. It makes for a better story that way, to recognize a vunerability. But then again, look at what he has accomplished, and it is nothing to sneeze at. I know that I feel good about the Yankees chances of winning each time he takes the mound, and what more could you ask from a pitcher?