Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Don't Moose with a Streak (Don't you know nuthin?)
2006-05-26 05:53
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Mike Mussina gets the start tonight against the Royals, losers of 13 straight. (Is it just me, or does anyone else get nervous that a team is due to win a couple after losing so much, even a team as woeful as Kansas City?) Will this be the year Mussina finally wins 20 games? Ehhhh, could be. Ed Price tackles the subject today in the Star-Ledger:

"Moose likes to live in the shadows somewhere," manager Joe Torre said. "He doesn't like all that attention. He's proud of what he does, but he doesn't need someone to tell him that."

Mussina says he's not overly concerned about winning 20. There is too much season left for him to get ahead of himself. He has to be pleased with how he's pitch so far, though. Moose adds:

"Being older and a little smarter and all that stuff, when you've had years that you're struggling, you pay attention to why you struggle and what bad habits I had. You try to make sure you don't have that when you get to the next year."

Without crunching any numbers, I'd rank Mussina with the likes of Curt Schilling and John Smoltz as borderline Hall of Fame candidates. Smoltz has been a terrific playoff pitcher and of course was also an elite closer for a few years; Schilling has the 300 K and 20 win seasons and two World Serious rings. I wonder which of the three will last the longest. My guess is that right now, Schilling and Smoltz are more likely to make it to Cooperstown, but one never knows...does one?

I can safely say that Mussina's got the Bronx Banter crew behind him 110%.

Comments (58)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-05-26 06:17:56
1.   bp1
No question there, Alex. 110% for sure. Someone made an off-hand comment earlier this year when he was reeling off wins that maybe he'd get the 20 win, Cy Young, and World Series monkeys off his back all in one season.

I'm fine with that. :-)


2006-05-26 06:28:05
2.   Dimelo got my 110%. Go Moose.

Alex, I agree...I do get scared to see a team lose so much and come here. That's why it's great we have our best starter going today. Take it to them quick, hard and put them away fast. Hit'em up, Hit'em up das wha wheez shuld do 2day!!! That should set the tone for the rest of the series. I'm sure the Yanks aren't taking these guys for granted given what happened last year.

2006-05-26 06:45:53
3.   rsmith51
Regarding that David vs. Goliath feeling, I remember when Cone was on the Yankees and somebody comes up with 0 or 1 homer in their last 600 PA. I am sure it didn't happen often, but that guy would invariably get a HR.
2006-05-26 06:50:50
4.   yankaholic
Well our boys wont forget the importance of JUNK games like this one.. coz they aint junk..

if they had even avoided the sweep in KC last yr leave alone swept them.. we wud have had home field for ALDS..

its all in the past.. but they will be focussed.. they better be..

T Long goes against his former team.. will away KC Fans boo them.. may be Rob Neyer will..

2006-05-26 07:03:39
5.   Felix Heredia
Not-so-great news on Posada, although he seems to think he can avoid the DL. Maybe now's the time to go on the DL and heal it 100%.

2006-05-26 07:11:47
6.   unmoderated
poor po-po.
2006-05-26 07:15:28
7.   randym77
Go Mooooooooooooose!

And yeah, I'm a little worried that KC's streak can't last. I know that statistically speaking, that's silly.

What can I say, we baseball fans are an odd mix of cold number crunching and whacky superstition.

2006-05-26 07:17:15
8.   Sliced Bread
I was at Moose's last game at the Stadium (May 15), and even though the Yanks lost to Texas 4-2, it was a thrill to watch him pitch.

He pitched 7 innings, and gave up 2 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, striking out 5 or 6. Not a spectacular performance, not a masterpiece, but typically solid with flashes of brilliance, and typically poor run support.

My friend had scored two ridiculously good seats for the game, so we were treated to pretty much the 3rd base coach's view of Mussina at work.

There's so much to see and hear from that perspective your senses reel -- and one thing that caught my eye was how Mussina had the hitters moving their feet, trying to get balanced and square on the ball. For some reason it seemed more noticable than on TV.

Joe's comment how Moose "likes to live in the shadows somewhere" is funny because when Mussina is on the mound, and is pitching as well as he has been, he takes control of the game and knows it. The Stadium knows it too. Every strike two count is an occasion to clap and bellow "Moooooooose!"

It's so much fun watching Mussina I joked to my friend "This is why the Yanks don't hit for him. They'd rather watch him pitch."

It was a Monday night that will forever be celebrated in the baseball "Hall of Fame" in my brain. Texas 4, Mussina 40-something thousand.

2006-05-26 07:17:54
9.   standuptriple
Moose!!! Silence the haters!
I can't help but remember the Sox failed after winning 13 straight against the Orioles earlier this month. I hate that number. Don't take these for granted. Strike hard, no mercy. I think there's enough youth/subs/straglers on the roster to keep our current team pushing and I wouldn't mind a little chip on the shoulder after what happened last year.
2006-05-26 07:44:38
10.   bp1
8 "Texas 4, Mussina 40-something thousand."

Nice. Very nice.

I was at a Moose game last year and the chants from the crowd sounded like the sound FX in Spielberg's "War of the Worlds". Otherworldy, and so much louder than what you get on TV. It was amazing.

Ok. No more good Moose talk from me today. Don't wannt jinx anything.


2006-05-26 07:45:16
11.   Dimelo
One thing I love about Moose is how he jumps off the mound the same way, each and every time. He's so fluid. The way he lands on his feet and they are shoulder width apart and perfectly balanced. The way he thinks, I'm sure you can attribute that to the fact that he's a Stanford grad with an engineering degree. I'm sure he's thinking of differential equation problem on the mound. When the batter first steps he's a complicated problem and he has to break him down into its simplest form. He's breaking down the batter by doing integration by parts, till he finally has all the parts figured out and brings it all together to solve the problem - 'how do I get this guy out?'.

One thing about Moose is that he can't be thought of as a #1, when he was given that role in 2004 I don't think he handled it well. I'm OK with calling him a 1A type......I think he earned what the Yanks paid him, we probably expected ace stuff but we got more than above average and he's a great guy to root for, too. I really want him to get 20 this year.

2006-05-26 07:56:43
12.   randym77
Tim Marchman has an article today in the Sun, about how style counts:

He says Jeter is the 7th or 8th best player on the Yankees, but no one cares, because his "stylish, subtle" baseball is so much fun to watch.

2006-05-26 07:56:53
13.   Sandman42
1 Don't forget that other monkey that we can't mention by name or talk about when it's happening.
2006-05-26 08:13:28
14.   Dimelo
12 This is my 2nd article I read from Marchman, I really like his writing (from what I've read), he's well informed and actually does his homework. Who is this guy? Do you think Lupica can learn a thing or two from him?
2006-05-26 08:30:45
15.   Maz
With the massive losing streak Kansas City has been on, they actually scare me. I had been hoping that they would have won at least one game in their last few series, but no such luck. The law of averages is against the Yanks on this one, let's just hope Kansas City continues to stink.

In regards to the whole Schilling Hall of Fame thing. I think not. There are far too many pitchers with considerably better career numbers than his not in The Hall. If people are going to base it on the two World Series rings...well, then where's Jack Morris. No one was more clutch then him during his time. Remember that 10 inning complete game, I'd say that eclipses the "bloody sock" incident. But hey, I've definitely got some sour grapes on the whole thing.

When Schilling joined the Sox, he knew exactly what he was doing. If he could win that World Series, he knew he'd be a legend in Boston forever. I wouldn't have cared if the Sox had won in any other year...but alas, the fates would have it their way.

I really think people need to seperate themselves from the magic Sox year of 2004 when considering Schilling for The Hall. Sure it was a great achievement and story, but so were the White Sox of 2005.

2006-05-26 08:36:59
16.   randym77
Dunno much about Marchman, but he was featured here at the Banter a couple of years ago:

2006-05-26 08:37:02
17.   bp1
13 Oh yeah! Right. Gotchya. Royals? Not another word.

Go Moose.


2006-05-26 09:01:46
18.   rilkefan
"does anyone else get nervous that a team is due to win a couple after losing so much"

Statisticians call this "the gambler's fallacy".

2006-05-26 09:10:58
19.   yankaholic
Well, yesterday KC scored 6 runs in a third of an inning and kicked Mike Maroth out of th egame... only to lose the game finally..

what to take from that game?? the offense or their stinky pitching..

2006-05-26 09:31:45
20.   Alex Belth
Tim is a Brooklyn boy and an exceedingly bright guy. He came late to baseball and acquired mucho knowledge in a relatively short period of time. I met him at the winter meetings several years ago in New Orleans and spent the better part of a day with him. Without knowing him all that well, what I do know I certainly like. Beyond that, I was just impressed with what a smart dude he is, on a host of topics, not just baseball. He's a serious-minded guy and very much his own man. He doesn't belong to any "camp" and calls it like he sees it. I admire him for that.
2006-05-26 09:32:30
21.   Shawn Clap
I sense a "perfect" storm forming in the Bronx tonite! Not only are the Royals in a 13 game slide, they've lost 14 straight at The Stadium.

I listened to Det/KC game at work yesterday. Sounded like these Royals were all swinging for the fences out of fustration. Yeah, they managed to abuse Mike Maroth, but that guy is a 20-game loser.

Moose is gonna exploit these tired and embarassed Royals. Just maybe he exploits 27 in a row. You heard it here first!

2006-05-26 09:52:02
22.   wsporter
I'll add my 110% to the crews 110%. Moose seems to be such a bright and interesting guy. When he came up with the O's the contrast with Ben MacDonald was stunning. He had such a calm and assured way about him. The way he carried himself gave you a feeling he was capable of things the other guy was supposed to represent. The way he made guys swing and miss let you know there was something very real about that feeling.

The way he has adjusted to the limitations age has placed on his stuff should be a lesson to any number of older guys. I wish Randy Johnson would get religion on the Moose.

Letting him go made Little Petey Angelos look pretty dumb and pretty cheap. Getting him makes us look very smart on a lot of levels. I hope we're smart enough to hang on to him. I'd like to see him get that 20 and a ring.

2006-05-26 10:05:14
23.   Shaun P
Moose::Hall of Fame as

A) World Serious Rings::Yogi Berra's possession
B) Good comments::Bronx Banter
C) Green tea::Joe Torre's hand
D) All of the above

My choice is D. =)

The whole "no 20-win seasons" thing is garbage. How many crappy pitchers - paging Scott Erickson - have won 20 games at some point in their careers? The "no Cy Youngs" also irks me - why should Moose be penalized just because he was pitching in the same league at the same time as BOTH Clemens and Pedro?

Quite simply, Moose rocks.

2006-05-26 10:13:20
24.   Dimelo
23 I was thinking I would never see another SAT type question again in my life.

Good thing you gave us the answer...I would have been thinking about the answer all day long.

2006-05-26 10:13:43
25.   TomP
KC scares me a little, too. Remember, we had to come from behind against them to win the first two games of the sweep last month. They have at least a couple of guys who can hit; it's mainly their pitching staff that sucks.
2006-05-26 10:20:14
26.   dianagramr
Blyleven better get into the Hall before you even consider Moose.
2006-05-26 10:23:34
27.   Bob Timmermann
The Royals have a team OPS of .707, 26th in the majors.

The staff ERA is 6.11.

2006-05-26 10:25:51
28.   wsporter
23 MFD I really thought he put that 20 win stuff to rest for ever in '97 when he beat Johnson in round one. The guy is so clutch. I guess he just has to deal with it until he does it. It really is a load of crap.

25 TomP, It's Detroit next week that has me thinking we better make things happen this weekend. Given the state of things I don't think we can afford to take anyone lightly. I guess everyone scares me right now.

I'm still basking in the glow of 2 of 3 with that lineup. That was sweet.

2006-05-26 10:34:57
29.   dianagramr
Royals during their current streak:

Pitchers' yielding .321/.400/.541/.941
Batters compiling .265/.339/.413/.752

2006-05-26 10:49:37
30.   rbj
I'll add my full 111.376% to Moose. And Mike's had a long and solid career? HoFer? Hard to tell, I think his career value is better than Schill, but Schill's peak is probably better.

Another one I've been tossing back and forth for the Hall is Paul O'Neil. Perhaps his numbers aren't there (especially for RF), but he was a starter for 5 WS Championship teams. Anyone else with that many earned rings and not in the Hall.

Got my ticket for Tuesday's game in Detroit. Small vs. Maroth. Despite yesterday's troubles for MM, this looks like a mismatch.

2006-05-26 10:57:36
31.   rsmith51
Paul O'Neill??

Jim Rice and Andre Dawson and Tim Raines and a host of others better get in well before O'Neill. I am not even sure O'Neill will get his number retired.

If he was a CF, he might have a slight chance(probably not even then), as it is no chance.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Paulie playing for the Yanks, but I don't really want the Hall of "Above average while on very good teams"

2006-05-26 11:16:14
32.   Dimelo
Holy this the Big Unit's mom, she has his same mullet.

2006-05-26 11:16:52
33.   Dimelo
You'd have to look at step 9 to see RJ's mom. Looks just like him.
2006-05-26 11:17:00
34.   BobbyBaseBall
32 Another Deadspin reader. Nice.
2006-05-26 11:21:41
35.   Dimelo
34 I love Deadspin....yeah, that's where I got it..
2006-05-26 11:25:21
36.   Shaun P
24 I hate analogy questions too, but this one was easy since I made it up myself. ;) I think I heard somewhere that they dropped analogies from the SAT, but I could be wrong.

26 Agreed, but that goes without saying. Blyleven should have been there ages ago.

2006-05-26 11:28:21
37.   Jeteupthemiddle
Dropped analogies, added an essay. It is out of 2400 now instead of 1600.
2006-05-26 11:32:13
38.   ChuckM
Moose's degree is in economics, not engineering...
2006-05-26 11:44:29
39.   Shaun P
30 Gene Woodling and Hank Bauer were starters for the '49-'53 Yanks and neither of them is in the Hall. Strangely enough, I think I once heard someone compare Bauer with O'Neill, though I'm not sure I agree on that.

Willie Randolph was a starter on 5 teams that played in the Serious, but only 3 of them won it.

2006-05-26 11:45:47
40.   Shaun P
37 Interesting - thanks, Jete!

I think I would have preferred an essay to the analogies.

2006-05-26 11:48:23
41.   Dimelo
38 ChuckM, thanks for correcting me. I could have swore I heard on more than one occassion that he graduated with an engineering degree. I remember my sister buying his jersey because she loved the fact he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. I guess we were both confused. I looked it up and he is an economics major. I know I've heard it before that he graduated with an engineering degree.
2006-05-26 12:44:45
42.   Felix Heredia
Joe Girardi is the one with the engineering degree.
2006-05-26 12:53:27
43.   rbj
Thanks Shaun P. I don't really think Paul should be in the Hall, it's just interesting that guys can have great or even very good individual stats and be in the Hall when somewhat lesser stats that contribute to dominating championship teams will keep someone out.
2006-05-26 12:54:48
44.   wsporter
36 MFD 37 When I took the SAT it was a bifurcated 1600. When I took the GMAT it was also 1600 and the LSAT was 50. After going through all that nonsense I decided to drop the analytical and critical thinking units and replace them with scotch. I've been much happier ever since and certainly easier to be around. Analogies really do bring out the worst in people.

Jameson's is to Bushmills as Dewars is to [ ? ]

2006-05-26 13:09:02
45.   ChuckM
The only reason I knew it was economics because I have the same degree. The fact that Moose got his from Stanford in only 3 1/2 years is impressive, to say the least...
2006-05-26 13:25:58
46.   Maz
How about this.

Johnson is(or should I say was?) to Koufax as Schilling is to [?]

2006-05-26 13:32:40
47.   Schteeve
While maybe Jeter is the 7th or 8th best player on the Yankees from an OPS or Win Shares perspective, I think he's one of the 5 most valuable players on the team. He's been the most consistent offensive player they've had this season.

Without his .950 OPS this year, I don't know where the Yankees are.

2006-05-26 13:35:09
48.   Schteeve
And although I haven't looked at the team numbers lately, I'm pretty sure only Giambi has a better OPS this year, and Jeter's more valuable defensively than Jason, although I realize that's not saying a whole lot.

My point is this, while Jeter may not be close to the best player on the Yankees, he's neck and neck with G for the team MVP so far this year

2006-05-26 13:52:53
49.   wsporter
48 Schteeve, I don't mean to nit-pick or imply that I disagree with the thrust of your post but whom in your estimation are the other 4 players as valuable a Jeter. IMHO, he is head and shoulders above everyone else right now.

Who is the best player? A-Rod? I'll give him most talented for sure. Best player? I'll take the Captain every time.

2006-05-26 13:59:25
50.   Schteeve
49 The more I think about it, I'm with you. I was sorta trying to give Marchman credit for being smarter than me. I think A-Rod, Giambi, Sheff, Mo, and Mussina, are probably "better players" than Jeter. But in terms of value to the team, yeah it's Jeter easy.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-05-26 14:13:34
51.   dianagramr
For those of you who care, the moneyline odds for tonight's game are Yankees -430/Royals +370!

I don't think I've ever seen a single game baseball line that high before ... imagine if the Yanks were healthy!

2006-05-26 14:19:34
52.   wsporter
50 I'm trying to remember a player that meant to his club what Jeter has meant to the Yankees for the length of time he has. I'm drawing a blank. Who has done what he has in terms of leadership and All-Star play for the period he has provided it? Who has been symbolic of their clubs hopes, aspirations and excellence in the way Jeter has?

The names Damon and Joe Carter come to mind but their stars didn't shine as long as Jeter's has nor were they quite as emblematic of their teams as Jeter is. As I think about it the names that I actually think are closest in terms of capturing the essence of their teams the way Jeter does are Kirby Pucket and Willie Stargell. In my mind that's pretty damn good company.
2006-05-26 14:23:37
53.   dianagramr
52. wsporter

How about Cal Ripken? Stan Musial? Ozzie Smith? Mike Schmidt?

2006-05-26 14:40:11
54.   wsporter
53 I'll give you Stan the Man but he was before my time.

It was pretty well spread around in St Louis in the 80's and Ozzie just didn't seem to represent the team in the way Jeter does in my mind. Cal, great as he was and an early winner, was removed from his team and was a prisoner of the streak. Schmidt had so many little quirks that he just couldn't seem to pull that Phillies team together, remember that they didn't get it done till Rose showed up.

Jeter won the moment he got there. He was a Serious MVP. He is the link between a wonderful recent past and a present full of promise. The folks you name were wonderful players no doubt but I don't think they provided or represented what Jeter does. I suppose we can agree to disagree on that.

2006-05-26 14:55:15
55.   bloodyank78
44 Wsport,

"as Dewars is to Blacklabel?" Did I get that one right?

2006-05-26 15:02:05
56.   wsporter
55 Bloody, Carling or Johnny Walker?
2006-05-26 16:20:05
57.   wsporter
Since this thread started with a Moose theme and watching him retire the first batter I started thinking about his place in the baseball world. I'll put this over here and stay away from the game thread.

I really love Tim Kurkjian's stuff and think he's the best baseball writer out there. He usually starts me thinking about tangential things. This is from his latest offering at the four letter network:

"Wayne Gross once took his time running around the bases on a grand slam many years ago. The pitcher was furious. He didn't get to face Gross again until three years later … when they were teammates. It was batting practice in spring training. The pitcher hit Gross in the middle of the back with a pitch. It was clear that he did it intentionally.

"What was that for?" Gross screamed.

"That was for three years ago!" the pitcher screamed back."

That is so hardball and I think it represents a state of mind that has to be appreciated by anyone who is going to get the baseball bug. Baseball has a long memory; anything that has ever happened matters. Little things matter; not just to players but also to those of us who watch as fans. Stuff like that is the very essence of what baseball means. You have to be willing to sweat the small stuff.

In a funny way Andy Phillips and Celerino Sanchez are linked in our memories as Yankees in the way Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter are. The things that Moose has done despite not winning 20 games are remembered and are important just as Tommy Johns' accomplishments are or Ron Guidry's or Tommy Underwood's are.

"The whole history of baseball has the quality of mythology" according to Bernard Malamud. Well that's right I think, In some ways it's the little brave deeds that matter as much as the great big ones such as winning 20. Moose has earned his place in the pantheon of greatness through all the small brave deeds he has done. Ultimately it's harder to argue that Moose is not great than to argue that he is.

A couple of wins in September and October may make that argument moot with the general public. With the rest of us, there is no argument at all.

2006-05-27 08:05:45
58.   randym77
57 Just want to say terrific comment, and thanks for posting it.

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