Tag Archives: Mike Mussina

Frank Thomas and Mike Mussina elected to ULB Hall of Fame!

The Class of 2015 is here, and for the first time we will have two players entering the ULB Hall of Fame. Both players were considered one of the greatest at their respective positions throughout the early decade and a half of the ULB.

player_9363Mike Mussina (Vancouver Canucks,1996-2003; St. Paul Saints, 2004, Las Vegas Vipers, 2004; New Mexico Suns, 2007)

Elected with 82.3% of Votes, Second Year on Ballot (62.5%, 2010)

Mussina was a dominant force in the early history of the ULB, helping the Vancouver Canucks to reach the Union Cup in 1996 and 1997. Mussina totaled 144 wins in the ULB and added 89 in the MLB for a total of 233 wins in both leagues. He led the ULB in wins in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He amassed 3 Nolan Ryan Trophies (1996, 1998 and 2002) and was elected to the All Star Game 7 times in his 10 years in the ULB.

Honors and Awards
Award Years Times Won
Nolan Ryan Award 1996, 1998, 2002 3
All-Star 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 7
Pitcher of the Month 7/97, 9/97, 6/98, 4/00, 6/00, 5/02, 6/04 7

 

player_12902Frank Thomas (Boston Colonials, 1998-2004; Oklahoma City RedHawks, 2005; Phoenix Fire, 2008-2009)

Elected with 76.5% of Votes, First Year on Ballot

The Big Hurt came over to the ULB signing  a 5 year contract with the Colonials in the 1997-1998 offseason worth a then record $102,500,000 million. Gripes about him being overpaid were quickly quieted as he led the league in Home Runs and Runs Batted in his 1998 season. He would go on to hit 243 Home Runs with the Colonials and added 9 more in short seasons plagued by injuries with the Oklahoma City RedHawks and Phoenix Fire. Thomas added a Fielding Bible Award at 1B in 2000 and was elected to the All Star Team four times with the Colonials. Thomas would add another 248 Homers in his MLB career to reach a total of 500 home runs. In his combined ULB and MLB career he had a total of 2,233 hits, and was also an MVP in 1993 and 1994 in the MLB with the Chicago White Sox.

Former San Jose Jedi General Manager Mak Dolnick, now an executive assistant to White Sox Owner Joe Reinsdorf, commented on Thomas’ election.

“He’s the Big Hurt, what else needs to be said?”

Honors and Awards
Award Years Times Won
Fielding Bible Award Winners 2000 (1B) 1
All-Star 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 4

Of those not making the cut, Washington’s Larry Walker fell just short of getting ‘The Call’ in his 4th year of eligibility. He appeared on 58.8% of ballots this season. Walker has to be encouraged by the fact that his percentage climbed higher than in 2010, when he had 50% of the vote. Manno Wickey, the New Orleans Gold Sox poster boy for a decade, received 52.9% of the vote in his first year on the ballot, but will have to wait another year before hopefully receiving his call.

2011 ULB Hall of Fame Ballot Results
Pos Player Votes Vote%
SP Mike Mussina 14 82.3
1B Frank Thomas 13 76.5
LF Larry Walker 10 58.8
1B Manno Wickey 9 52.9
SP Roger Clemens 8 47.1
SP Pedro Luis Lazo 7 41.2
C Mike Piazza 7 41.2
DH Ryan Keith 5 29.4
SP Curt Schilling 5 29.4
SP Kevin Brown 4 23.5
C Tyler Houston 4 23.5
CF Andruw Jones 4 23.5
SS Enrique Aguilar 3 17.6
SP Ramiro Mendoza 3 17.6
RF Mark Merchant 3 17.6
SP Andy Pettitte 3 17.6
C Steve Coture 2 11.8
SP Tom Gordon 2 11.8
DH Mark McGwire 2 11.8
2B Roberto Alomar 1 5.9
LF Mark Anthony 1 5.9
LF Brian Apolskis 1 5.9
LF Darryl Brinkley 1 5.9
LF David Diaz 1 5.9
1B Darren Doucette 1 5.9
CF Christopher Garife 1 5.9
RP Daniel Ginder 1 5.9
3B Brian Heigle 1 5.9
SS Howard Hill 1 5.9
RF Tomoaki Kanemoto 1 5.9
SP Brett Lagerblade 1 5.9
C Ken Love 1 5.9
CF Vernon Maxwell 1 5.9
2B Warren Morris 1 5.9
3B Bill Mueller 1 5.9
SP Hideo Nomo 1 5.9
DH Curtis Parham 1 5.9
LF Roberto Singer 1 5.9
LF Dernell Stenson 1 5.9
CF Zack Watts 1 5.9

British Columbia to Canucks: NO DEAL

The Vancouver Canucks have been struggling to come to an agreement with BC Place Stadium and the Province of British Columbia on a new contract. Under the old terms, the Canucks paid a relatively modest upkeep fee on the facility while sharing minimal profits. The Province wants the Canucks to agree to a new deal that would pay the Province more of the money generated by the team, which Canucks owner Jim Pattison Jr. says would harm the team’s ability to compete.

“We simply cannot afford to agree to the Province’s terms at this time. We’re trying to come to a mutually agreement contract for the use of BC Place Stadium, but right now, we’re not close to a deal.”

The Canucks were at one time the darlings of Canada, winning the first two Union Cup championships, and are credited with revitalizing interest in baseball in Canada at a time when rival franchises the Expos and Blue Jays saw a marked decrease in fan interest due to the 1994 MLB Strike that saw the Expos chances at postseason glory ended prematurely. But with three MLB franchises decreasing interest in the on field product of the Canucks, despite stars like Mike Mussina, Ichiro Suzuki and the emergence this season of rookie outfielder Shannon Carter. The Canucks were unable to afford to sign Ichiro to an extension, and fans are worried that Ace Mike Mussina may be next to leave.

“It’s a tough time for the Canucks, there is no doubt about that.” said Fay Vincent, commissioner of the ULB. “But we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached before the start of the season.”

Pattison was not quite so hopeful, saying that “We’re keeping all options open right now, including relocation. I’ve fielded calls from a few cities that would love to have us. If the government of the Province of British Columbia doesn’t want us, well, it will be the city of Vancouver’s loss. We want to stay. They’re the ones who are telling us to get out. I feel bad for the fans most of all. We’ve been here for 9 years. We’ve provided this city with two Championships, and we are being treated like dirt.”

ULB Trade Deadline Approaches

Could OKC's Jose Vidro be moved before deadline?
Could OKC’s Jose Vidro be moved before deadline?

The ULB’s Trade Deadline is now just over a month away. While the season has already seen some trade activity, with Adam Dunn moving to the Apollos from division rival Boston, and Matt White traded to Columbus, there could still be a blockbuster or two in the works. Oklahoma City has made it known that they would consider trading All Star third baseman Jose Vidro for the right price. Teams like Boston could be convinced to move parts like Curt Schilling and Bobby Abreu, as they move into an obvious rebuilding mode.

The Los Angeles Stars have some players on the books that might not be returning in 2004, like third baseman Brian Heigle, Wilson Alvarez and former MVP Orestes Kindelan. Kindelan might be a shell of his former self, but he’s made it known that he would like a chance at winning the Union Cup, even if it means riding the bench.

Another player that could attract serios attention is the Washington Generals’ Larry Walker. Walker has been moved to the DH role for the Generals, but he is 36 now and has two years remaining on his contract. The Generals have a lot of pitching talent coming up through the minors to join their young staff, but one wonders if Walker will still be part of the plans when it finally all starts to come together.

And then there is Vancouver. The Canucks have a trio of stars in Mike Mussina, Ichiro Suzuki and Shannon Carter on their books. Ichiro is in his walk year. Mussina has one more year left on his contract. Shannon Carter is still under team control for two more seasons. And let’s not forget Darryl Brinkley and Angel Delgado who are both in their walk years as well. On the whole, the Canucks remain a mystery, with much of the speculation being on if they can resign Ichiro to a new deal. If that is not a possibility  look for them to maybe conduct a firesale in the coming month.

The Moose is Back

Mike Mussina in back in Top Form in 2002

A year and a half ago, it looked like one of the best pitchers to play in the ULB’s short history might have had his career cut short. Mike Mussina was a big part of Vancouver’s Cup run in 1996, has 7 ASG apperances (3 starts) In 1999, he blew out his knee to begin the season, and was sidelined for three months. That was the beginning of his problems.

“I know they said my knee was fine after the rehab, but mentally I think I tried to baby it. The results weren’t horrible, but I didn’t have the same stuff. My sinker didn’t sink quite the same way it used to, and my fastball was weaker. Like 89, 90 tops.”

Mussina went 9-6 in 16 starts in 1999, and worked hard in the offseason. Harder than he ever had before in his career, by his own account.

“I wanted to get back in top shape, my knee felt better, but by spring training, my shoulder was getting tight after pitching. I didn’t feel bad when I got warmed up and out out to the mound, but I wasn’t feeling really good by the ASG. I still pitched an inning, but I talked to a few of the guys, and the concensus was that I should get my shoulder and my elbow looked at.”

Mussina got back to Vancouver after the break, and put his concerns aside.

“I was a little scared. Mostly because stuff like Tommy John can put you out for a year, and year and a half.”

By the end of July however, Mussina knew he was heading for the disabled list.

“I think I came out the mound in Portland, and just told the boss he shoulder felt like it was on fire. I ccouldn’t deal with it anymore. It just hurt all the time. I knew I had to say something.”

The result was a torn labrum in Mussina’s shoulder, and 10 months of rest after the surgery.

“Last season, I came back, and it took me a little while to get going. By the end of the season, I felt good. Not great, but good. During the offseason, I went back to my normal routine, and I was a little shocked when I started throwing. I felt good. Like really good. I admit now, that I had been worried for about 2 years now that I would never get back to my old self. I came off the mound after that Spring Training game and I admit, I had a few tears of joy.”

Mussina has been dominating the competition since the start of the 2002 season. He is now 8-0 in 10 starts and has has held teams to under 3  earned runs in all but one of his starts. In that start he allowed 3 earned runs.

George Bush Encourages MLB Owners, GM to Spend

1/8/1999

Commissioner George Bush, who took over for the ousted Bud Selig in August of 1998, is trying to regain some of the ground lost to the ULB. Owners had groused about Selig’s attitude towards spending since the strike and the formation of the ULB. Bush spoke out about the MLB’s new approach to dealing with the upstart league.

Rangers Owner George W. Bush took over as Commissioner of Baseball after Selig's firing.
Rangers Owner George W. Bush took over as MLB Commissioner of Baseball after Selig’s firing.

“He was trying to rein in spending, and encouraging owners to spend within their limits at the time. Fans weren’t coming out, and a lot of teams were losing money. Some teams attendance just crashed. We were losing the war.”

The MLB lost stars like Roger Clemens (Bees), Mike Mussina (Canucks), Curt Schilling (Blizzard), Frank Thomas (Colonials) and Mike Piazza (Stars) to the ULB over the course of the last few seasons. Bush intends to put a stop to the practice.

“We’re gonna do our best to keep these guys in the MLB. It’s time to start spending some money here to keep these guys. So if you want a Pedro Martinez, you better be prepared to break the bank. I hear the Bridges are offering him like $200 Million. That’s fine, that’s okay. I dunno how you convince Mike [Bloomberg, owner of the Bridges] to do that, but fine. You can grab him up for 200 million, and we’ll take the Brinkley’s, the Arias’ and the Bracks’.”

With a new National TV Deal with Fox, and ESPN’s exclusive deal with the ULB now expired, the MLB is set to start adding more money to it’s coffers. ESPN has agreed to broadcast both ULB and MLB games this season. The ULB is currently without a National TV Contract for 2000, and Vincent is talking with both CBS and ESPN. MLB Attendance figures have begun to bounce back after an exciting season that saw Sammy Sosa pursue and break the HR Record of Roger Maris, and the Cubs end the Curse by winning the World Series, oddly enough by beating Bush’s own team. Bush laughes off the notion that the Rangers laid down in the World Series.

“Yes, I was hoping to keep that Curse going. Anyone who says we laid down is simply stupid.”

Facing Elimination, Will Canucks turn to Moose?

Thursday, October 10th, 1996

Mike Mussina Hopes to Pitch Game 6 in the Union Cup.
Mike Mussina Hopes to Pitch Game 6 in the Union Cup.

Mike Mussina wants the ball. After being shellacked by the Giants in Game 3, The Moose wants the ball in Game 6 to try to help force a Game 7.

“I want to go back out there. After my poor performance in Game 3, I feel like I need to get back out there today. I can pitch on short rest, and I can win this game for us. The boss is saying it’s going to be a game time decision, but I’m just hoping he makes the right call.”

The Canucks face a dilemma. Will they pitch Mussina in Game 6 and hope they can pull out a win in Game 7 with Kown? Or go with their regular starter in Kown and hope to pull out a win to get Moose a Game 7?

An American Moose in Canada

12/22/1995

Vancouver, British Columbia – Mike Mussina arrived in Vancouver today to officially sign his contract after being checked over by team doctors. The Vancouver Canucks have more or less decided to take their chances that the 3 time Baltimore Orioles All Star would be able to make a successful comeback after undergoing Tommy John surgery last season.

Mussina will be the Canucks' new Ace.
Mussina will be the Canucks’ new Ace.

Tommy John surgery, known in medical practice as ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, is a surgical procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. In Mussina’s case, a ligament was transplanted from his knee to his elbow.

“I’ve got about 4-5 weeks to go before I can get back to throwing full throttle. Right now, I feel pretty good. Dr. Jobe checked me out today and gave a full report to the Canucks. I had a nice lunch with Mr. Pattison and Mr. Monagle, and we’re all pretty excited about this upcoming season.”

Mussina was one of the top pitchers on the free agent market, and some point to the Canucks getting the best deal this offseason due to Mussina’s injury and questions, however slight, regarding his ability to make a successful comeback.

One scout pointed to the deal recently reached with Curt Schilling and the Buffalo Blizzard.

“You compare that deal to the one Moose signed, and it’s obvious teams had concerns about the surgery. This is a business, and you are always going to see teams worrying about potentially getting damaged goods and a multi year contract that can quickly become an albatross.”

Before Mussina’s season ending injury, he was displaying his typical superstar form, going 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 4 games. Overall Mussina was 53-23 with a 3.19 ERA in 97 starts in his career with the Baltimore Orioles.

In other news, repairs on BC Place Stadium are proceeding slowly, and insiders point to the Canucks possibly having to start the season on an extended road trip due to the extensive damage to the concourse and outfield stands.