This is one of Edward Hopper’s last paintings. He said it was “about me.” Space, light, composition, isolation. You never see Hopper’s people smile much. And smiles were hard to come by with Mike Mussina too, although he’s got a dry wit and could be cutting and sly with reporters.
Something about Moose always reminds me of Hopper’s world–private, self-contained.
My brother liked him first. Back when Moose was pitching for Baltimore. Then again my brother has always been drawn to pitchers, particularly guys as cerebral, fastidious and determined as Moose. Reports tonight have it that Mussina is going to retire. An official announcement will likely be made by the end of the week.
This comes as no surprise. Still, it’s rare to see an athlete walk away from the game on his own terms and there is something deeply satisfying about Moose splitting with 270 wins. It’s neat and controlled like Mussina himself.
Moose finally won twenty games this past year, an achievement that had eluded him during his fine career. It wasn’t his best overall season (though it was probably in the top five) but it was impressive. He pitched beautifully and had just the right amount of good fortune. In fact, it was all the more admirable because he pitched so well at an advanced age after it appeared that he was all but warshed up.
270 wins. No Cy Young awards. No World Serious hardware, but a great winning percentage and some fine playoff performances. Durable, reliable, stubborn. A winner.
Is he a Hall of Famer? (Tyler Kepner addressed the matter a few days ago in the Times.) I’d say yes. Joe Posnanski had two posts about Moose’s Hall of Fame candidacy earlier this week: one and two. Check em out.
Thanks for the great memories Moose. We’ll miss ya, but are proud to see you calling one last shot.