This post comes from RAB commenter tommiesmithjohncarlos — which is a freaking throwback, I know.
I was thinking about this again this morning, so I did some quick research on Baseball-Reference.com. Enjoy the following narrative, brought to you by The Committee to Induct Michael Cole Mussina into the Hall of Fame.
#1: June 22, 1992
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs, strikes out 7, and is replaced after the 8th with a 4-2 lead. In the top of the 9th, Orioles reliever Mike Flanagan gives up a single to Mel Hall and is then pulled for Orioles closer Gregg Olson, who gives up a game tying home run to the first batter he faces, Roberto Kelly. In the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees bullpen gives up a run and the Orioles win, 5-4. Moose gets the ND.
#2: August 15, 1992
Mike pitches 7.2 innings, giving up 9 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, strikes out 5, and is pulled during the 8th with a 4-3 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Orioles closer Gregg Olson gives up a single, a walk, a bunt groundout, a single, and a sac fly and the Royals win 5-4. Moose gets the ND.
#3: August 17, 1995
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 6 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, both unearned (on a dropped flyball by Bobby Bonilla in the second inning that would have been out #3), strikes out 8, and is replaced after the 8th with the game tied at 2. In the top of the 10th, Orioles reliever Jesse Orosco gives up a leadoff homer to Gary Gaetti in his second inning of work and the Royals go on to win, 3-2. Moose gets the ND.
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, strikes out 9, and is replaced after the 8th with a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Orioles closer Armando Benitez gives up a one-out home run to Ed Sprague to tie the ballgame. In the top of the 10th, Roberto Alomar hits a home run of his own to retake the lead and the Orioles go on to win, 3-2. Moose gets the ND.
#5: July 7, 2001
Mike pitches 7.0 innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 walk, and no runs, strikes out 10, and is replaced after the 7th with the game still a scoreless tie. After two more scoreless innings from Jay Witasick, in the top of the 10th, Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera has one of his rare implosions and gives up a walk sandwiched around 4 line-drive singles, all with two outs, to score 3 runs and the Mets go on to win, 3-0. Moose gets the ND.
#6: July 17, 2001
Mike pitches 7.0 innings, giving up 8 hits, 3 walks, and 1 run, strikes out 3, and is lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the 8th with the game tied at 1. Much later, in the top of the 12th with the game still knotted at 1, Phillies reliever Wayne Gomes gives singles to Jeter and Tino and a homer to Jorge and the Yankees go on to win, 4-1. Moose gets the ND.
#7: August 12, 2001
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 2 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, strikes out 9, and is replaced after the 8th with the game tied at 2. In the bottom of the 9th, Yankees reliever Mike Stanton walks Johnny Damon and, one batter later, gives up a two-run homer to Jason Giambi. The A’s win, 4-2. Moose gets the ND.
Mike pitches 7.0 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run (on a first inning error by centerfielder Raul Mondesi), strikes out 8, and is replaced after the 7th with a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the 8th, Yankees reliever Steve Karsay gives up a game-tying homer to the first batter he faces, Randy Winn. Two innings later, Yankees reliever Sterling Hitchcock gives up a single, a double, an intentional walk, and then a single and the Devil Rays win it, 3-2. Moose gets the ND.
Had Moose had a slightly better collection of relievers (or fewer defensively challenged outfielders) over the years, and had the 2001 Yankees not been utterly shut down by Mets “ace” Kevin Appier in that 7/7/01 game, etc., Moose could have won these 8 contests, since he pitched damn well in all of them. What’s the significance of these eight games, you ask? Well, if we use our magical time machine to alter these games and give Moose the victories instead of the no-decisions, not only would Mike’s career record now be 278-153, he’d now have SIX, COUNT ‘EM, SIX twenty-win seasons:
…which means none of us would be having this conversation about “Is Moose a Hall of Famer”? Bill Plaschke, Jon Heyman, Jay Mariotti, Wallace Matthews, George King III, Joel Sherman, and even Mike Lupica himself would be singing Moose’s praises from the mountaintops and viciously excoriating anyone who dared question the credentials of an absolute stud ace who won 20 games an unbelievable six times.
(And don’t forget that Moose went 16-5 during the strike-shortened 1994 season, where he was robbed of probably 10-12 potential starts. Do your own math on that one.)
So please, people. Seriously. We can’t allow media idiots to keep Mike Mussina out of the Hall of Fame because of a few bad games from Gregg Olson, Armando Benitez, Bobby Bonilla, Raul Mondesi, Steve Karsay, Mike Stanton and one good game from Kevin Appier. That’s insanity.