They say time heals all wounds, but when it comes to baseball and the Orioles-Yankees rivalry, that may not be completely true.
It was announced this week that former Oriole Mike Mussina’s name will appear on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time and, at some point, it appears Mussina could get the call to the Hall.
But if elected, will he go in as an Oriole or z Yankee, and how will fans of the club feel about that?
Even after all this time, I don’t think the wound of Mussina ditching the Orioles for the Yankees has not completely healed. Although some of it seemed to abate when Mussina was inducted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame in August 2012.
Months earlier, when he first found out he would join the O’s Hall, Mussina talked about O’s fans frustrations when he signed as a free agent with New York before the 2001 season.
“Looking back, I can understand people being upset, frustrated and bitter,” Mussina said. “Especially when you leave Baltimore and go to a rival city in the same division. I can understand that. It was a decision that I made at the time and it probably worked out for me.
“But the first 10 years in Baltimore can’t be replaced, and nothing was more fun or exciting or enjoyable for me than being the last couple of players to get to play in Memorial Stadium, and then move into a brand-new park. It was such a thrill to go and have a full house every day and to be in contention for a long stretch of time and to put us in the playoffs for the first time in a long time.
“There are so many things that were exciting and memorable and that I’m going to never forget. The Orioles were the ones that gave me the chance to experience that. If people are upset that I made a change, they are allowed to be upset. People take this stuff really personally sometimes, but honestly, the first ten years in the major leagues were a great ten years. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
If Mussina does make it then we’ll find out if he goes in as an Oriole or a Yankee. He played 18 seasons in the majors, ten as an Oriole.
Mussina went 147-81 with a 3.53 ERA as an Oriole. He actually posted better pitching stats with the Orioles than the Yankees despite playing on five losing teams in Baltimore and six first-place clubs in New York. His ERA (3.53 to 3.88), win percentage (.645 to .631) and WHIP (1.18 to 1.21) were all better with Baltimore.
When a player is elected, the six-member Hall of Fame senior staff makes the decision on which cap a player wears on his plaque when inducted, not the player.
The Hall’s spokesman, Brad Horne, explained the process to me when Mussina was elected to the O’s Hall of Fame.
“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 individual 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.”
So O’s fans, should Mussina go into the Hall as a Yankee or Oriole? If he goes in with a Bird on his cap, how will you feel? Has time truly healed the wounds that began in the winter before the 2001 season?