Why Mike Mussina Made Me Cry Tonight

I know, I know. There’s no crying in baseball. But when Mussina walked off the mound tonight after giving the Yankees six-plus superior innings – when the crowd cheered “Moooose!” and the usually circumspect Mike not only tipped his cap but actually grinned – I teared up. I did. Because in beating the White Sox and winning his 18th game of the season, Mussina showed me what the concept of not throwing in the towel really means. This is a pitcher who was awful last year. Done. Cooked. Stick a fork in him and banish him to the bullpen. Do you remember how bad he was? Against the Angels? Against the Tigers? How he couldn’t get anybody out? If not….

That was from August of last year. Did you hear him say, “I don’t feel like I can do much of anything right?” He was lost and we all figured he’d retire or just go away. Instead, he came back this season and made adjustments, and now look at him. He’s our ace. He’s been our most consistent pitcher by far. He has a shot at winning 20 games for the first time in his career.
So with all due respect to Abreu’s 6 RBIs, Cano’s resurrection and the major league debuts of Baby Bombers Miranda, Sanchez and Cervelli, this was Mussina’s night. After facing extinction, he came back and made us proud.


  1. flairforthedramatic

    I don’t blame you for crying. It was a very special moment. Mussina is such a great guy and great pitcher. I really hope he’s back next year. This was definitely his night. The hope for 20 still remains… how bout that… we still have something to hope for 🙂
    V – http://flairforthedramatic.mlblogs.com

  2. Jane Heller

    You’re right, V. The player milestones have made the season palatable for Yankee fans. I thought the rest of the games would be phoned in, but tonight – like Jeter’s night – really got my attention and reminded me why I love this team!
    – Jane

  3. falejandro_student@hotmail.com

    Well said. While you’re connecting with Mussina’s win, I’m over on my blog writing about dinosaurs. A losing season effects everyone differently I guess.

    I really hope Moose gets his 20. I thought he really hurt himself when he didn’t come strong in his last two games, but he won this one and still has a shot. He’s facing some tough teams in Toronto and Boston, but I’m praying he gives quality starts and the offense shows up. Its honestly the only compelling story left this season.

    -Fernando Alejandro

  4. Jane Heller

    I read your “interview” with Hank and cracked up! I’m crying like a baby last night and you’re doing a thing about brontosauruses (no clue if that’s actually a dinosaur). As you say, we all deal with loss in a different way. In my book I talk about being so upset during a game against the Mets last season that I threw a piece of cheese that landed in my husband’s beard. I was going pretty berserk there for awhile.
    – Jane

  5. respectjetersgangster@gmail.com

    Word on the street, and by street I mean the comments section of our blog, brontosaurus is no longer a dinosaur. It used to be what they called the long necked plant eating ones like Little Foot from the Land Before Time, but that’s changed since my childhood. First the Yankees, now Little Foot. Nothing stays the same forever I suppose. I think this is the first season where I haven’t gotten super upset about the Yankees losing. In other seasons we kept things so close that every lost game was crucial. This season, a lost game is just another nail in a coffin that’s already been buried.

  6. mlbmark

    These are big days for Moose topics, I guess. Hey, I have two other things:

    Thank you for this on your author website: “Just write. Now. No excuses about how busy you are. I was on a panel once with a widow who had ten children and a full-time job. She woke up at 4 o’clock every morning and wrote until 7 a.m, when she had to get her kids ready for school. If she could find the time to finish a novel, so can you.” I needed that.

    I liked your husband’s online portfolio and especially the Bahama cottage. I hope it’s still there!

    Everyone also comment at: http://yankeestadium.mlblogs.com

  7. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, Jane …

    The two great performances last night by Mike Mussina and Bobby Abreu, made a powerful statement, and send a clear message to the Yankees Organization: Both Mussina and Abreu should be re-signed — Bobby Abreu for three-years; and, Mike Mussina for two-years !!! … There will be many question marks next year, and the Yankees have to make many moves to improve the team … With all the young prospects the Yankee plan on having on the roster, two proven all-star veterans, such as Mussina and Abreu, are a vital part of their foundation, for success over the next few years … Also, it will be “extra special” [and, fun] to watch Mike Mussina get his 20th win this season, in the final game of the year, against the Red Sox, at Fenway Park !!! … Jimmy [27NYY] …


  8. Jane Heller

    Mark, I’m glad that anecdote about the mother-of-ten resonated with you. I was blown away by her discipline and realized there really was a lesson: Just write. Stephen King used to say the only days he didn’t write were Christmas Day and his birthday. (I have a feeling he also takes off when the Red Sox play.) But you get the point. So tell me about the book you’re writing????? And thanks for the nice compliment about my husband’s pix. I hope the Bahamas cottage is still there too, given all the hurricanes since he took the photo.
    – Jane

  9. Jane Heller

    Hey, Jimmy. Do you really think they should bring back Abreu for three years? I’m not sure they’ll make that kind of commitment to him at his age, since they’re supposedly trying to go younger. Mussina’s a different story. I think he’d prefer going one year at a time. I’d love to see him get #20 at Fenway on the 28th. Oh, man, would that be something. It’s a tall order, but without Manny to blast a HR against him, maybe it’ll happen!
    – Jane

  10. jes14850@gmail.com

    Hi Jane, I was at the Thursday night game–as you know the experience of being in the stands is entirely different than watching on YES. From my vantage point, I couldn’t see Mussina smile, usually couldn’t find the ball after it was hit and was totally entranced by the first inning squirrel antics (was this shown on TV?). It seems as though the game moves more slowly without broadcaster commentary, close-ups and instant replays so there is lots of time to study the stadium and its occupants.

    Even though we arrived before the gates were open, by the time we got to the Monument Park line at 5:15, the line was closed. Before the game, we were “treated” to an earsplitting video of one YES networks Yankeeography, which should really be named Yankee hagiography.
    The fans are very fickle, very vocal and usually lots of fun. Who could tell the difference between booing and mooing unless you were there? Mussina did a great job and the hitting was terrific.
    We were seated beyond the third base foul pole and watched the last section try to start “the wave”. They tried about fifteen times in the seventh or eighth inning but it never got farther than about a third of the way around the crowd. I never realized how much work it is to get to be successful. Yankee Statium may be a cathedral but it is dirty, and worn out, the food is awful, and I, for one, am looking forward to the new stadium.
    Got back home around 4 a.m. due to a flat tire on the bus. Didn’t get a souvenir seat but do have my ticket stub and Frank Sinatra permanently etched in my brain and that’s enough for me!
    Don’t forget to come to Ithaca on your book tour!

  11. Jane Heller

    Oh, Janet. You’ll laugh when you read my book. There were moments in the story when I hated the Stadium (faded seats, narrow aisles, bad food, mean security people, missing the comfort of watching at home on TV), but after nearly three months on the road, I came to love the place unconditionally. Now when I watch games at home I totally miss being there. The experience becomes a part of you – even the not-so-great aspects. Glad you got to see the Yankees win!
    – Jane

  12. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Jane …

    Yeah, I really think it’s important for the Yankees to bring back Bobby Abreu, because he still is a very productive player [.300 BA; 20+ HR’s; 100+ RBI’s]; and, with all the uncertainty surrounding the Yankees roster and lineup, it’s good to know that we have a solid #3 hitter who will go out there everyday, get on base, hit with power, drive in runs, and hustle on every grounder when he runs to first … Abreu may not be the greatest defensive outfielder, but he does have a great arm, and “gets the job done” … Regarding how many years the Yankees should offer Abreu [if they decide to bring him back] … well, what we have to consider is the fact that Bobby Abreu wants to stay with the Yankees, but, also, he’s in a position in his career that his next contract will probably be his last chance to sign a “big” long-term deal. Bobby will be looking for a 4-5 year deal, and will get offers from other teams. So, for the Yankees to sign him, they will have to offer him a three-year contract [or, at least, two years, with an option] … I do think Abreu has earned a new deal, and is worth whatever money he will ask for !!! … And, of course, we both agree on bringing back Mike Mussina … Moose is the “ace” of the pitching staff, and he still can be a very productive pitcher for the next couple of years … It will be great to see Mussina win 20 games this year, and his 300th win sometime at the end of the 2010 season !!! … Like “they” say, “follow the money”, regarding all these moves … But, I really hope the Yankees “do not” let money get in the way of making all these very important decisions !!! ….. Take care, Jane ….. Go Yankees !!! … Jimmy [27NYY] …


  13. Jane Heller

    I take your point about Abreu, Jimmy. He’s very productive at the plate in all categories and has a good arm. I’d like to see him back. But the team needs a different look next season. Not wholesale changes but upgrades. Like at first base. (Please let’s get Teixiera!) And in center. (Please teach Gardner how to hit consistently or else sign a proven guy with speed!) And is Posada going to be healthy enough to catch? We already have a DH, assuming Matsui stays. It’ll be an interesting off season. And the best part is….spring training will be here before we know it. In the meantime, I hope we don’t get eliminated today. I know it’s coming, but I’d rather have the news after we close out the series at the Stadium tomorrow.
    – Jane

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