Growing up a Red Sox fan, it would be easy to say good riddance when Mike Mussina retired earlier today because of the amount of respect he earned beating up on the Red Sox as a pitcher for the Orioles and Yankees for the better part of the last two decades. I have nothing but respect for a guy like Mussina, who likely solidified his place in Cooperstown this season, ending his career on the highest of high's, a 20-win season and a Gold Glove. While watching other aging great pitchers such as Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez may have careers that have provided baseball with more scintillating moments in one season than Mussina did in his entire career, yet they did not know when to walk away. Mussina's retirement from baseball after having arguably the best season of his career is so impressive and something that other greats will not be able to claim as their decision to keep pitching when their instincts kept them going as their bodies deteriorated made for some forgettable moments.
I have to admit that I have immediately gone to EBay to find a Mike Mussina t-shirt because when someone mentions the best pitchers of my time as a fan, Mike Mussina has risen to the top as a player with class that crossed the finish line with greater dignity than the likes of Maddux, Mussina, Johnson, Glavine, Schilling, Smoltz and Martinez.
Congratulations on a fantastic career to Mike Mussina.