yankees indexApologies for the click bait title but this post has been sitting around for half a year, and we couldn’t tell anyone until now. Several months ago, Ryan received a direct message on our official Twitter feed from ESPN’s Mark Simon. What could he possibly want with us, we wondered? Turns out, he stumbled across our site while doing research for a book he was writing on the Yankees—a book, it turned out, that had a chapter on Mike Mussina. And he wanted to talk to us!

So, after talking it over with Ryan to make sure our talking points were in order, I spoke with Simon over the phone about our website, how we got started, and our thoughts on Mussina. Simon’s book, which you can purchase here, (and totally should) is called: The Yankees Index: Every Number Tells a Story. The chapter on Mussina, like all chapters, takes one number and tells the story surrounding that number, using interviews to flesh out a compelling narrative.

Now, because we respect the work of others—especially those in the print journalism industry who’ve taken months to write a book—we’re not going to spoil the topic of his chapter, or share the specific quotes we gave. We will say that we’re in there, and say that the topic of Mussina’s chapter is a well-known game from his 500-plus starts, and one we’ve covered in the past. Simon does a fantastic job telling the story and an even better job integrating some quotes from his sources—ours especially.

Ryan and I are honored. Not just to be featured in a book (although that’s awesome), but for the work we’ve put in to this site to be recognized by other journalists and baseball historians (especially of Simon’s caliber — seriously, have you watched the video of him reciting the final out of the last 60 World Series?). We started this website eight years ago, back when it seemed like everyone was writing their own thoughts about sports and putting them online. This was always a passion project for us, but we did think of it like a job in at least one respect: We always strove to produce the best possible content we could. We knew we were not the only people to have an opinion on baseball or Mike Mussina, but we hoped that the quality of what we wrote would set us apart. We’re not sure if this proves it, but it’s still great.

We hope you guys pick up the book, not just for our sake, but because it is a great read. We also hope you guys keep coming back, as we continue our quest to see Mike Mussina elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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15 thoughts on “Mussina HOF in Book Form (Sorta)

  1. So, congratulations on inclusion in the new Yankee book. When I receive these notices (via Facebook), it’s just a sad reminder of how tremendously flawed the HOF voting process is. I actually get disheartened, not because Moose isn’t working his way up the ladder, but rather that there’s any question at all. Clemens should be in; Bonds should be in; Rose should be in. These were all great ballplayers — equally flawed as
    Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. But great ballplayers nonetheless. In Moose’s case, the mere fact that he won 270 games is certainly a pretty high bar to clear. It’s unfortunate that the baseball writers yield so much power.

  2. David-

    Thank you for the kind words and for being a loyal follower of the site. I’m sorry you get disheartened about the process, (so do we, sometimes) but one of the things I’ve come to realize is that I’m glad people analyze stats and careers through different lenses. Sometimes, we can come to the same conclusions despite those different lenses, and sometimes we can’t. But I’m not a fan of the concept that there’s a “right” way to analyze the numbers. Not because I don’t think some methods are better/worse than the others, but because that’s the first step towards groupthink. If people want to use wins, ERA, WAR, or whatever stat, I think that’s great. I like discussing the differences in them, and why people feel the way they do. Ultimately, I suspect Mussina will be in. The others I’m less sure of—though my personal “No PED Discussion”—does not permit me to discuss if I think they should.

    But, we think the wind is blowing in the right direction for Mussina. We hope you continue to come to the site, and comment.

    1. Koufax won 100 fewer games than Moose. He was a sub-500 pitcher between ’55-’60. His 162 game average was 16-8. Moose averaged 17-10. Koufax was a first ballot inductee, long before sabremetrics entered the calculus. Just sayin’.

      As far as PED’s, I actually agree with you. If you allow that, then you open pandora’s box to greenies, alcohol and a lot of other questionable substances consumed throughout baseball history. And then you gotta disqualify Gaylord for spitters — one of the biggest admitted cheaters. Even wrote a book about it … while he was still playing!!!

      Rose broke the cardinal rule of baseball and then lied about it. Not good. But he came by his hits honestly. How can something called the Hall Of Fame, which honors the best there ever was, exclude the guy who was the best hitter that ever was? There isn’t a ballplayer today who couldn’t do the same thing Pete did (bet on baseball) via Fan Duel or Draft Kings and never get caught. Obviously it’s an antiquated rule, and there isn’t a utility infielder in the league who needs the money. Pete’s been adequately punished. Time to end the banishment that prevents his election to the HOF.

      End of rant … 🙂

      1. David—

        It seems like you’re fixated on W-L records, which is fine, because we’re all allowed to focus on whatever we want. But most voters look at other things, like ERA, strikeouts, awards, and postseason legacy. Everyone weighs these things differently, but to almost all voters, there’s more to a candidacy than W-L record

      2. In Koufax’s case, for example, he won three Cy Young awards, an MVP, three World Series rings, two World Series MVPs. He also led the league in ERA five times and strikeouts three. It’s okay if those aren’t things that matter to you, but that’s why Koufax was elected right away

  3. Individual awards are fine … and I’m not implying Koufax wasn’t deserving. He was. What I am saying, though, is the ultimate measure of a pitcher’s worthiness is whether he helped the team win games. No rings or MVP for Warren Spahn ( the Braves were dreadful). But on those days he was called upon to help his club, he got it done.

    So what makes Jim Palmer, with virtually the identical record to Moose, a first ballot inductee? ERA? World Series appearances? More 20 game seasons? Underwear ads? Who knows. But it strikes me as fairly inconsistent that Mussina has to wait 4 or 5 more years (maybe) versus a Jim Palmer who got 92.6% on the first ballot.

    We’re in furious agreement about the desired outcome. But just as Bill James argued that on-base percentage was the gating factor for hitters (regardless of how you get on base), I’d argue that 270 wins is an automatic qualifier.

    1. You wrote: “What I am saying, though, is the ultimate measure of a pitcher’s worthiness is whether he helped the team win game”

      But that’s the thing: Sometimes, “doing all you can” doesn’t mean you *get* the win. Again, I direct you to the 1997 ALCS. The Orioles did not score a single run when Mussina was the pitcher of record. Not one. A pitcher can’t allow negative runs. There was, literally, nothing else he could have done in Game 6 to enable the Orioles to win the game. (Well, I suppose he could have thrown 12 or more shutout innings, but that’s not really how the game is played today.)

      As to your Palmer question, the answer is again straightforward: He won three Cy Young awards and three world series rings and went 8-3 in the postseason. (A similar answer would explain Bob Gibson’s first ballot election, who won two of each, plus a pair of World Series MVPs)

      I get, and respect, that your personal method doesn’t really take those things into account. But voters absolutely do, and have mostly consistently applied them.

      As Ryan and I have pointed out, there are only three eligible players with multiple Cy Young awards who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. One is being kept out due to PED suspicion (Clemens), and the other two (Saberhagen and, especially McClain) had careers derailed by injury.

      1. By that analysis, Tim Lincecum is a Hall of Fame pitcher (3 World Series rings, 2 Cy Youngs, 2 no hitters). And if he doesn’t add a single game to his 108 game total, he wouldnt get my vote. And I’ve known Timmy long before Sports Illustrated took notice.

        Parse the stats any way you like … even down to a single ALCS game. Wikipedia says: ” Roger Clemens is the only pitcher with 300 wins or more not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.” No analysis of post season; no WAR; no Cy Youngs. 300 wins was the indisputable metric. I’d simply lower that bar a tad to reflect an era of 5-man rotations and 100-pitch limits.

        1. And, btw, if you really wanted to help Mike get into the HOF rather than turning this into Mike And The Mad Dog — you’d help simplify the rationale for his inclusion. You only succeed in giving the baseball writers ammunition by making factoids and micro data relevant to the calculus. It’s this analysis-paralysis that kept Piazza out for 4 years.

        2. David—

          Regardless of the statistic you, or I, pick, there is going to be variance in the amount of importance a voter gives it. Tommy John has more wins than Sandy Koufax. Bret Saberhagen has more Cy Young Awards than Nolan Ryan. Mike Mussina has a higher WAR than Tom Glavine. David Wells has more World Series rings than Greg Maddux. David Cone has more strikeouts than Juan Marichal. All these of these statistics combine and mix to help or hurt a player’s candidacy.

          As to your second post, we’ve written plenty of straightforward articles on why Mike Mussina deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. In fact, in one—which you’ll like—we kick it off by citing his win total, and don’t talk about any of the things you find irrelevant, like WAR or Cy Young totals. You can find it quite easily, but to save you the time, here’s the URL: http://www.mussinahof.com/just-the-facts/.

          You’ve made it clear that your criteria for the Hall of Fame is essentially nothing more than the number of wins next to a pitcher’s name. That’s fine, but it’s not ours, and more importantly, it’s not the criteria of most of the voters are using. As a result, Ryan and I decided not to rest on our laurels and, instead of making the website one article, chose to continue to analyze information, and then write about other topics that we deemed interesting and relevant to his candidacy and his hopeful election.

          If these topics and discussions bore you because they don’t follow the line of thinking you want them to, well, that’s unfortunate, because as I said, we appreciate the support of our small pocket of readers. However, we’re going to continue to write them. But we promise we’ll leave that other article up, so it’s there if you want to read it.

          As to “helping” Mike Mussina be elected, to the extent that any website that gets a few hundred views a month can help a Major League player get elected to the Hall of Fame, we believe we are. But, if you feel our content isn’t doing that, I’d seriously encourage you to start your own website. 270wins.com is straightforward and catchy.

          1. You’ve misrepresented my position. I said 270 wins alone qualifies Moose for induction. Nobody among active pitchers is anywhere close. I’m not talking about criteria for Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera or Rollie Fingers. Just Mussina. I’m on the record to say that guys who have a lot fewer wins like Koufax deserved to be in the HOF. My only point throughout this entire thread is that deconstructing the composition of those 270 wins is not relevant. Who cares if Mussina gave up a lot of earned runs or only won 20 games once? These are reasons baseball writers give for saying Mussina is not worthy to be in the HOF. If Moose had won 30 more games, it would be a moot point. Nobody would give a shit about how he pitched in the ALCS or how many Cy Youngs he earned. He’d be in. So if he’s a universal choice at 300 wins, the only debate is how many shy of 300 still makes him a clear Hall of Famer? IMHO, 270 is a pretty decent cutoff. That said, my logic didn’t help Tommy John or Jim Kaat. But that’s my opinion.

  4. David—

    To avoid misstating you, I will quote your post.

    “The only debate is how many shy of 300 still makes him a clear Hall of Famer? IMHO, 270 is a pretty decent cutoff. That said, my logic didn’t help Tommy John or Jim Kaat.”

    Your last sentence is exactly why the only debate *isn’t* “How many shy of 300 were you?” Tommy John was 12 wins short, and didn’t get elected. Pedro Martinez was 81 wins short and did. That means, by definition, a whole bunch of other, “non-win” stuff got considered in both their cases. Whether you think it should or shouldn’t is immaterial to what is actually occurring. And we write about what is actually occurring, not what we want to be occurring.

    What is actually occurring is that voters *are* considering up the number of runs a pitcher allows, and his Cy Young finishes, and his postseason performance. Because, as you showed with John and Kaat, they’re not buying your premise that “The only debate is how many shy of 300” makes someone a Hall of Famer. They care about this other stuff; by extension, so do we.

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