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Mike Gets Taste of Bitter End

Nov. 6, 2001

November 6, 2001 -- Mike Mussina, who had never reached the World Series in his brilliant career, came to New York to be part of a winner. The Yankees gave him an $88.5 million contract to help ensure that they stayed one, to help pitch them to a fourth straight World Series title.

After they fell two outs short in Game 7, Sunday night, Mussina - at the Stadium yesterday to pack up his belongings - was trying to pretend that the early morning flight home was just a normal red-eye. Then he realized the futility of that facade.

"It was quiet. Guys were tired. It was just a normal red-eye that we get on a couple times a year," Mussina said. Then he admitted "I could tell people were disappointed. The people here aren't used to losing. There are people here who have never lost.

"It's tough the way it ended. We were right there. We didn't play well the entire series, and we still had a chance to win. We stole two from them and they stole one from us. And that was it."

They did play very un-Yankee-like at times. Their .183 average was the lowest ever in a seven-game World Series. Their starting pitching failed them twice, including Mussina giving up six hits and five runs in just three innings in a Game 1 loss. They committed three errors in the decisive game. And they still led Game 7 going into the bottom of the ninth.

"We really didn't play our best baseball that series, we really didn't," Mussina said, shaking his head. "We didn't play very good defense most of the time; we didn't do much offensively. We didn't play our best baseball and we were still two outs away from winning."

Mussina used to be on the outside of this looking in, watching as George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman acquired piece after piece to the Yankee puzzle, of which he himself became one of the last and biggest.

"I have no idea [who'll be back]. We get the core of the pitching staff back, the core of the position players back," Mussina said. "We've got some big holes to fill, got some big questions to answer; but everybody does. This team usually finds a way to answer them."


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