In the case of the caps, the Hall makes the call

Well, there certainly was a lot of discussion this week about Mike Mussina’s election to the Orioles Hall of Fame. Mussina played 18 seasons, 10 with the Orioles and eight with the Yankees.

So the question has come up: If he gets elected to the Hall of Fame, would Mussina go into Cooperstown as an Oriole or a Yankee? First of all, he has to make it and I think he has a very good chance.

Mussina’s last season was 2008 and a player must be out of the game for five years before his name is placed on the ballot. Mussina would then first appear on the Hall ballot, which goes to voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, in December 2013 for the vote that would be announced in January 2014 for induction in July of that year.

Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horne confirmed for me this week that the Hall, and not the player, decides which logo will be on his cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

“For anyone that is elected, the decision of which logo appears on his Hall of Fame plaque is the decision of the museum and not the player,” Horne said. “Our role, as a historical institution, is to preserve the integrity of the team that is most representative from an individual’s career.

“If someone’s career is split between two or three franchises, numbers alone do not necessarily tell the story of where the greatest impact was made. The process is, once an indivdual is elected, and only at that time, does the Hall of Fame begin the process of which team is represented on the plaque. The individual is elected in January, but not inducted until July.

“The senior staff of the Hall makes that determination. The numbers are a big factor, but also intangibles come into play, as well things like awards and postseason. Sometimes, the process is resolved in a matter of hours. Sometimes it can take a couple of months before we are ready to announce the decision.”

This has been the process since 2001 and before that the player had much more input into the decision if more than one team was involved. The Hall’s six-member senior staff makes the call and it’s the result of their discussion on the topic and the decision they reach. They don’t put it to a vote.

“It should be a choice that the player doesn’t have to make,” Horne said. “That should not be part of their responsibility in going into Cooperstown. They shouldn’t feel like they have to alienate anyone.”

Just a few years ago, the Hall actually want against a player’s choice in this decision.

“In 2010, Andre Dawson was very outspoken that he wanted to be commemorated as a Cub, but the overall body of work just showed that his contributions were more numerous for the Expos franchise and our staff decided an Expos logo should be featured on the cap,” Horne explained.

Mussina made 40 more starts as an Oriole than a Yankee and had a better ERA, winning percentage and WHIP with Baltimore. He also had many more complete games (45 to 12) and shutouts (15 to 8) as an Oriole.

If he gets elected, I’m sure many fans will see this as a battle between the Birds and pinstripers, but Horne points out it’s really about the player being a Hall of Famer, representing every team that he played for.

“I think Wade Boggs said it best,” said Horne. “He said, ‘You could put my Little League logo on the cap, I just know I’m in the Hall of Fame and that’s all that matters.’ Ultimately, that is all that this cap discussion is about. Every team is listed in print on the plaque and it’s actually a very tiny representation on the hat.

“This is not a declaration of an individual getting enshrined as a member of x-team. They are a member of every one of their teams. It’s just what logo goes on the plaque. This is about commemorating the achievement of Hall of Fame election, not the isolation of a single team.”

Meanwhile, in the spirit of looking ahead and making predictions for the coming season, will the following numbers go over or under this year?

Zach Britton starts: 25
Mark Reynolds strikeouts: 195
J.J. Hardy homers: 25
Nick Markakis doubles: 38
Orioles wins versus Yankees: 6
Jim Johnson saves: 28
Orioles wins: 70

Update: This was first mentioned on MASN’s Wall to Wall baseball show today. Pitcher Josh Banks, a Baltimore native, has been released by the Orioles. He was signed to a minor league contract about a month ago.

The 29-year-old Banks, who pitched for Severna Park High near Baltimore, has pitched in the majors for the Blue Jays, Padres and Astros, going 4-8 with a 5.66 ERA. Last season, at Triple-A Fresno in the Giants organization, he went 5-6 with a 7.27 ERA.

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