Yankees: Mike Mussina is one of the best Yanks pitchers without a ring
By Scott Roche
Plenty of pitchers have won a World Series ring as a member of the New York Yankees. Mike Mussina is not among them, despite how dominant he was throughout his career.
Mike Mussina was a workhorse for 10 years on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles. Following the 2000 season, Mussina became a free agent and tested the market. In November of 2000, Mussina signed a six-year, $88.5 million contract with the New York Yankees.
Mussina joined a division rival that was coming off of their four straight World Series championship. Adding him to the Yankees deepened their rotation for years to come. Joining the Bombers, Mussina was looking to win that elusive championship that has avoided him with the Orioles.
Despite spending eight very good years in a Yankees uniform, Mussina was never able to get over the hump and earn his ring. He came close twice but will go down as one of the best Yankees pitchers to never win a ring in pinstripes.
Mussina signed with the Yankees as they were coming off their third straight championship an immediately became a staple in the rotation. He won at least 11 games each season and finished with 123 career wins for New York. He won 17 games in 2001, 18 in 2002, and 17 in 2003.
In the 2001 postseason, Mussina fired seven scoreless innings in the ALDS against the Oakland A’s in a 1-0 win. He then pitched six innings in a win over the Seattle Mariners in the ALCS. His two World Series starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks were forgettable, as he gave up 11 hits and seven runs over 11 innings in Games 1 and 5.
In the 2003 playoffs, he struggled, losing to the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS and going 0-2 in two starts against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. It was his work as a relief pitcher in Game 7 of the ALCS at home against the Red Sox where Mussina left his mark on the series. With the Yankees down 4-0 at Yankee Stadium, Mussina entered the game in his first relief performance with runners at the corners with no outs. He struck out Jason Varitek and got a double play to get out of the jam, setting the stage for Aaron Boone’s home run in the 11th inning.
Mussina won his World Series start against the Florida Marlins with seven strong innings, allowing one run and striking out nine. Sadly, that would be the last crack at the World Series as his final five postseason starts were in the ALDS in 2004 through 2007.
Mussina had his best year for the Yankees in 2008 when he went 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA in 34 starts. He retired that November, maybe one season too early. In 2009, the Yankees broke through after nine years to their 27th championship.
Mussina spent eight very good years in a Yankees uniform, but unfortunately for him, he will go down as one of the best pitchers to don the Pinstripes and not win a championship during his tenure in the Bronx. Mussina was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown last summer with Mariano Rivera.