Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Coming and Going

Mike Mussina is retiring.  He's coming off one of his better years, actually.  20 wins, Golden Glove, highest first strike percentage in the league.  But he's been pitching for 18 years, and he's clearly a guy with other interests.

I had been assuming that Mussina was going to fall into the Bert Blyleven trap of Non-Hall of Famers.  But Tim Kurkijian made a pretty compelling argument that he should be, even though he's got no World Series rings, and he's only got 1 20-game winning season.  Couple that with a lot of years with a franchise in Baltimore that was dysfunctional for many of his ten years there. Tim pointed out that Mike Mussina was on his way to 20 games in 1994, the strike-shortened season.  Mussina is retiring with a winning percentage well over 100 games over .500.  He's finishing in the Top 20 All-Time strikeouts (2813 of them). He played his entire career in the Steroid Era and in the AL East.   Kurkijian convinced me, but also made me wonder (once again) who the fuck Bert Blyleven has got to blow to get into the Hall.

Mussina is wandering nerdily into the sunset, whilst Freddy Adu is beginning to rise to prominence.

I can hear your reaction from here--Freddy Adu?  Didn't I hear about that guy years ago?  About how he was going to be the savior of American soccer?  Didn't he completely wash out?

Actually, Freddy just turned 19 in June.  Which goes to show how early the hype machine kicked in for the poor kid.  No one, especially a soccer player (who usually hit their stride in their mid-20's) should be hyped up at age 14, or forgotten by age 18, which kind of happened to Adu).  Freddy, quietly, has been playing better and better in National play, when he gets some burn.  Tonight, in a match that didn't mean anything of real import to the US, Freddy got a lot of time, played really, really well--finding space on the wings, finding space in the middle and slotting passes to his wingers.  But the reason he is getting mentioned now is that he scored his first official National Team goal.  Adu had scored for the Olympic Team and the U20 team, but this was his first true International Cap goal.    It was a free-kick goal, and not hit with a ton of power, but with a great sense of placement.  So congrats, Freddy!    

Added bonus:  The US beat Guatemala, who are huge dicks on the pitch.  Guatemala is now done in World Cup qualifying.  Good!  Also good to see:  Jozy Altidore looking really comfortable in his role--assisting on one goal, getting dragged down to set up the other, and in general, causing massive trouble for the Guatemala defense.  Not good to see:  Kenny Cooper getting a goal.  Not because I don't want Kenny Cooper to do well but because I don't believe he will do well, and he barely scored on a perfect assist from Altidore.  Cooper is a 24 year old who is finds himself one of the most prolific scorers in the MLS.  In other words:  Brian Ching, Taylor Twellman, etc, etc. Go to Europe, if you can, Kenny!  Prove your worth.

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