New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina is calling it quits after a brilliant 18-year career. Sure, the Moose very well might take his 270 career victories, 17 consecutive seasons with 11 or more wins, and 2,813 strikeouts to the Hall of Fame one day; but for Yankee fans, it is a time to consider that this could be the end of a relatively dark era in recent memory because of one pivotal decision gone wrong.
The Yanks were winners of three-straight titles, four of the past five, and entered the winter after the 2000 season with intent to go for the jugular. With two prized free agents available, the Yanks knew they had to make the right choice to stay on top.
They then signed the number-one pitcher available over the number-one hitter available – Moose over Manny.
They were already stacked in the pitching department, and susceptible in left field. Leaving the team from those positions were David Justice, David Cone, and Denny Neagle. Instead of shoring up the left field spot that had been a revolving door in New York for a decade, they added another pitcher to a staff that was already bursting at the seams with Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez, and Ted Lilly. The man who couldn’t throw the ball from second base to first, Chuck Knoblauch, took over in left.
And ever since, the Yanks haven’t won a championship and Mussina has continually came up short in the playoffs to the tune of a 5-7 record, just 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA since 2002. Meanwhile, Boston signed Ramirez, won two titles, and Manny became one of the greatest postseason performers in league history.
With Mussina leaving the game and the Yanks given another shot of redemption, will they erase a mistake made eight years ago, and this time lure the enigmatic Manny to the Bronx?