Red Sox rivals Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera inducted into Hall of Fame

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Former New York Yankee and 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera participtaes during the teams Old Timers Day prior to a game between the Yankees and the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Former New York Yankee and 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera participtaes during the teams Old Timers Day prior to a game between the Yankees and the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees, one of the best rivalries in sports. How did Hall of Famers Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera help fuel the rivalry?

Ah, competition. There’s nothing like a little good ole fashioned rivalry to ignite the fuel within a player or to engage fans. As Bleacher Report’s David A. Cucchiara said, the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry might just be the most prominent rivalry in the U.S. and even in the world.

It dates to the “Curse of the Bambino” or one of the worst trades in history involving Babe Ruth. To add onto the pain, the Yankees then won three World Series with Ruth on their side.

Two men responsible for helping to fuel the more recent rivalry were Mariano Rivera and Mike Mussina. Both pitchers played together for the Yankees from 2001-2008. Recognized this weekend for their accomplishments, Rivera and Mussina have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Rivera played a key role in the rivalry. He spent 16 years in the majors, as a New York Yankees lifer. He was a 13-time All-Star, went to the World Series 5 times, won a World Series MVP, All-Star MVP, ALCS MVP, and he was a 5-time Rolaids Relief winner.

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Rivera was born on November 29, 1969, played his first game at 25 years of age in May of 1995 and stepped onto the mound for the last time at 43 years of age on September 2013.

Rivera had a career 2.21 ERA, 56.2 WAR, 1.000 WHIP, 82 wins, and 60 losses, and 652 saves in 1,115 games. He won 13 awards, including the 1999 AL Babe Ruth Award; 2005, 2006, and 2009 Delivery Man of the Year; and the 2013 AL Comeback Player of the Year.

He spent 16 seasons in the Top 10 for Saves; 14 seasons for Games Finished; 5 seasons for being the Oldest; 3 seasons for Games Played; and 2 seasons for WAR.

Mussina also played a big role in the rivalry. He spent 18 years in the majors, 10 years playing for the Baltimore Orioles and 8 years playing for the New York Yankees. Mussina was a 7-time Gold Glove winner, a 5-time All-Star, and now he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Mussina was born on December 8, 1968. He was drafted in the first round of the 1990 draft, played his first game in the majors in August 1991 at the age of 22 and his last on September 2008 at the age of 39.

Mussina had a career 3.68 ERA, 82.8 WAR, 1.192 WHIP, 270 wins and 153 losses in 537 games. He spent 12 seasons in the Top 10 Fielding Independent Pitching; 11 for his ERA, WAR, Strikeouts, and Shutouts; 9 seasons for Win-Loss Percentage, Hits, Wins; 7 seasons for Completed Games; 6 seasons for Games Started and Fielding Percentage as a Pitcher.

Since Rivera was known for his cut fastball, the Yankees never tried to hide which pitch he’d be throwing. It was his number one go-to. Instead, the strategy was, let’s go with Rivera’s strength and see if the batter can handle it (by the way, most of the time they couldn’t).

He was born in a small fishing village near Panama City. To play baseball, he got creative using cardboard gloves and tree-branch bats. The first few years in the majors were a struggle for Rivera, and the Yankees almost parted ways with him.

The more the Yankees invested in him and learned about him the clearer it became that Rivera should be in the closing position. After moving into that position, he posted an ERA of under 2.00 in 11 seasons.

What did Rivera want to be remembered as? ‘The player who was always there for others’.

How did Rivera stack up against the Red Sox? He had 58 saves and 13 wins against the Sox (his highest win count against any team). In 2013, Rivera tied Rollie Fingers for most relief pitcher wins vs the Red Sox. He had 30 straight relief appearances against the Red Sox without allowing a home run.

His record for postseason saves against a single team came from six saves against the Sox. In 13 appearances against the Red Sox in the postseason, he allowed two runs in 19 2/3 innings.
At his last appearance at Fenway Park in 2013, Rivera was recognized with a presentation and loud cheers from the crowd. What did Rivera think about the Red Sox? It gives me chills reading it, as he said,

"“I’ve always liked to pitch in Boston. The games were always important when we played the Red Sox and the fans were good. I hope I earned their respect.”"

Mussina grew up in America as a multi-sport athlete playing basketball, football and baseball. Mussina rose through the ranks rather quickly, after making 28 appearances in the minors he made his MLB debut. In his first season, his ERA was under 3.00 AND he played in the All-Star game.

Mussina was a player that the Red Sox had a strong interest in acquiring during 2000-2001. Former general manager Dan Duquette admits that the Sox had scouts that were following Mussina out of high school and during his playing career at Stanford. As he said,

"“He had a great career for the Orioles. He was really dependable, really a terrific pitcher. We saw him a lot. We knew him. We liked him. And we were willing to commit significant resources to him.”"

The Red Sox were up against their division rivals, the Yankees in the pursuit of Mussina. Can you imagine what the Red Sox team would have looked like with Mussina on our side and not against us? He ultimately (and fairly, if you ask me) wanted a no-trade clause. Something that the Sox were not willing to offer.

How did Mussina shape up against the Red Sox? He almost had a perfect game at Fenway in 2001. The perfect game was ruined by Carl Everett coming up to bat in the ninth inning, with two out. In 2003, during Game 7 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, his guest relief pitching sparked the Yankees to a comeback.

He played his last game on September 28, 2008, at Fenway Park. His exit from baseball could not have gone better. He lasted six shutout innings and his relief pitchers secured the win for him. The result? He became the oldest-first time 20 game-winner.

Next. Red Sox rival Roy Halladay inducted into HOF. dark

Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera were gifted stars on the mound. Both have humble personalities, recognized as great characters by former teammates and former opponents. Things could have been very different had the Red Sox offered Mussina the no-trade clause that he wanted. But considering the great reputation of Mussina and Rivera, if their courses were different the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry wouldn’t be nearly as great as it is today.