A look at Mike Mussina’s chance to get the call to the Hall and other notes

Former Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina may make the Hall of Fame one day, but it appears today will not be that day. He may well come up short on a ballot plentiful with worthy candidates.

It is clear to me that all these years later some O’s fans are still bitter about Mussina’s signing with the Yankees as a free agent. What is not clear is exactly what percentage of O’s fans feel that way. I would think time heals some wounds, but not all of them for some fans.

If Mussina does someday 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 in 2012.

“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.”

The Orioles announced yesterday the signings of pitchers Eddie Gamboa and Zach Clark to minor league contracts. Gamboa, who was on the 40-man roster briefly this winter, was expected to re-sign.

It was good to see Clark re-sign as well. An Oriole since he signed with the organization in May of 2006, Clark had an eventful 2013 season. One that included his first call to the big leagues - even if it lasted just four days - and later his conversion to a knuckleball pitcher.

That conversion began only after Clark was designated for assignment in early May. Yes, it is tough to make the change during the season. At least Gamboa began his switch during spring training.

Clark went 3-15 with a 7.84 ERA at four levels of the O’s minor league system in 2013, ending the year with Single-A Frederick. Over 111 1/3 innings, he gave up 134 hits, with 75 walks and 65 strikeouts.

It was a bit of a bumpy ride for him, but it also had to be incredibly difficult to make that switch six weeks into the season and then try to get out hitters at Double-A Bowie.

Clark committed to the pitch and the O’s said they’d stay with him during what would be a long-term process. The O’s officially held up their part of the bargain yesterday.

My last two thoughts today are about the Hall of Fame voting process. I’ll beat the drum yet again today that some broadcasters be included in the Hall vote. What is wrong with adding two to three per year, not for full BBWAA membership, but Hall voting rights. You can’t tell me broadcasters like Bob Costas, Jon Miller, Vin Scully or even adding a sabermetric element with someone like Brian Kenny, would not be good additions to the electorate. It is past time for someone with the Hall or BBWAA to make this happen.

Finally, I’ve changed my mind in thinking that having voters make their ballots public is a good idea. It’s not. It creates too much talk about Hall of Fame voters rather than Hall of Fame players.

I don’t care that some writer from Los Angeles voted only for Jack Morris and I don’t even care why he did it. This should not be about him or any individual voter but the players that are headed to Cooperstown.

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