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Mussina's road to serious Hall of Fame contention


Mussina's road to serious Hall of Fame contention

This is a big year for Mike Mussina. He needs to gather momentum for his Hall of Fame bid.

In my mind, Mussina is a surefire Hall of Famer. He has 270 wins, his lifetime winning percentage is .638, and his WAR is 83, just below Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 84 and ahead of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Mike Piazza and Trevor Hoffman, all of whom will get many more votes than him.

Mussina was never considered the best pitcher of his time. Only once, in 1999, did he come close to winning the Cy Young award, when he finished second to Pedro Martinez, who was a unanimous winner.

He pitched in the same era as Martinez, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson, and was a teammate of Clemens and Johnson with the New York Yankees.

In Baltimore, Mussina was an enigmatic and somewhat polarizing player. Fans were loath to embrace him. He was unfairly criticized for failing to win the big games and never winning 20 with the Orioles.
He also played at the same time with Brady Anderson and Cal Ripken, and was never going to compare with them.

Mussina didn’t win 20 until his final year, 2008, and he retired immediately afterward, saying he didn’t want to continue to pitch just to reach 300 wins. He couldn’t stand being a mediocre pitcher and wanted to leave when he was still good.

He left the Orioles after the 2000 season to join the Yankees, who won four World Series in the preceding five years. Mussina was regarded as a traitor in Baltimore, and while he went to the postseason seven times with the Yankees, they never won a World Series with him there.

New York won the Series the year before he came, and the year after he left, but Mussina seemed more than OK with that. He had done his best.

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Mussina’s winning percentage was exactly the same as Jim Palmer’s, and he won two more games, but he hasn’t yet been a serious Hall of Fame contender.

Four times with the Orioles, Mussina won 18 or more, and he did it twice with the Yankees. Eleven times he pitched 200 or more innings, and threw 23 shutouts. The active leader in shutouts, Bartolo Colon has 13.

Pitching in homer-happy ballparks, Mussina averaged fewer than a home run per nine innings, and he struck out more than 3 ½ batters for each walk. His WHIP was 1.192. He also won seven Gold Gloves.

In his first two years of eligibility Mussina received 20.3 and 24.6 percent of the vote, and he must begin getting more support this year. Mussina is going to increase his share from a quarter of the vote to three-quarters this year, but he needs to get much closer to the magic 75 percent soon.

His campaign for the Hall could be compared with Bert Blyleven’s. Blyleven didn’t get even a third of the vote in his first six years, and didn’t gain enshrinement until his 14th and next-to-last year of eligibility.

Last year, the Hall made a change, cutting the number of years a player could be eligible from 15 to 10, so Mussina has only eight more years to be voted in by the Baseball Writers.

The number of voters has been sharply cut this year. Many former writers who are no longer active in baseball have been removed from the rolls, reducing voters from 600 to around 450.

Perhaps the younger voters will be more sympathetic to Mussina. He should be helped by the inductions last year of Johnson, Martinez, Craig Biggio and John Smoltz. With only Griffey and Hoffman as new nominees, Mussina should move up.

Next year with Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez eligible should be even better, but Mussina should get 35 percent or more this year. Once he does that, momentum could build, and voters could have an added incentive to reward him with his deserved place in Cooperstown.

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

 Mark Trumbo could have looked around the diamond at his Orioles teammates and wondered, "Who are these guys?"

With veterans Adam Jones and Chris Davis out of the starting lineup, Trumbo alone represented experience on a young, struggling team.

The slugger homered twice and drove in five runs, and Baltimore beat the Texas Rangers 9-6 in a back-and-forth game Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"There's a few of us guys that have been around a little longer than most," Trumbo said. "The production comes and goes, but the mindset is the big thing, and I think these guys are doing a good job."

Entering the series, Trumbo hadn't gone deep since July 9. He completed the four games 7 for 16 with three homers and nine RBIs as Baltimore totaled 21 runs.

Austin Wynns and Jonathan Villar also homered for the Orioles.

Trumbo singled home a run in the first inning. His two-run homer in the third put Baltimore ahead to stay at 6-5 against starter Drew Hutchison (1-2), who was making his Rangers debut.

"Just pitch execution, poor command, too many balls up in the zone," Hutchison said. "When you do things like that, those are the results that you're going to have."

Both of Trumbo's homers came with two strikes.

"I've been getting to two strikes a lot lately and still getting some hits," he said. "I hit a changeup (from Hutchison), and I put some good wood on it."

The teams had scored in every half-inning before that, with the lead changing hands in four of those.

Trumbo left the game after his two-run homer against Matt Moore in the seventh.

"(Trumbo) almost didn't play today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "His knee's been a little sore. I noticed running around the bases on the second home run."

Another difference was Baltimore's beleaguered bullpen, which allowed only one run and one hit in 7 1/3 innings.

Tanner Scott (2-2), the second of six Orioles pitchers, shut out Texas for 2 1/3 innings, which tied his longest major league outing. He relieved starter Yefry Ramirez with the bases loaded and two outs in the second and struck out Ronald Guzman.

Mychal Givens retired the final four batters for his second save.

Jace Peterson led off the game with a single and scored on Trumbo's single for a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Ramirez retired the first two Rangers hitters but gave up a triple to Elvis Andrus. After two walks loaded the bases, Robinson Chirinos singled home two runs.

The Orioles regained the lead at 4-2 in the second on a three-run homer by Wynns, the No. 9 batter.

The Rangers scored three runs in the bottom half on Shin-Soo Choo's sacrifice fly, Andrus' groundout and a broken-bat single by Joey Gallo for a 5-4 advantage.

Gallo and Rougned Odor homered in each of the first three games of the series, but their streaks were stopped on Sunday.


Orioles: Davis didn't play for a second straight game. Showalter said, "He's banged up a little bit. We're going to give him the benefit of another day and the off day Monday." ... Showalter said it's likely that OF Craig Gentry, who has missed six weeks because of a fractured rib, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Bowie. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (strained left oblique), who hasn't played since July 1, could go on a rehab assignment Thursday.


To make room for Hutchison on the roster, the Rangers optioned RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx to Triple-A Round Rock for the third time this season.


Andrus extended his hitting streak to 16 games, equaling a career best. It's also the longest current run in the majors.


Orioles: Begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Alex Cobb (3-14, 5.83 ERA) will start against Rays newcomer Tyler Glasnow (1-2, 4.27).

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 6.50) pitches Monday as Texas hosts Seattle and LHP Wade LeBlanc (6-2, 3.95) to begin a three-game series.

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

Adam Jones continues to be one of baseball's Good Dudes. 

Jones, who's been recognized before for his philanthropic efforts around Baltimore, made headlines recently when he donated $8.5 thousand dollars to the Mamie Johnson Little League team. 

Mamie Johnson are headed to the Mid-Atlantic Finals of the Little League World Series qualifying tournament but needed $10k in travel assistance to get there. That's where Jones, who orginally learned of the team on Twitter, stepped in: 

When asked about his donation, Jones said, "I want to see the next generation get an opportunity to succeed. Me being a black man trying to integrate more African-Americans into baseball, this was a no-brainer.''

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