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Blue Jays All-Star Game Memories: Cito and Mussina

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Toronto Blue Jays

With the All-Star break, I thought we could look at a couple of Blue Jays All-Star game memories.

With the Jays winning the 1992 World Series, Cito Gaston got the job of being manager of the AL team for the 1993 All-Stars.The Jays had 3 players voted on to the team by the fans: Joe Carter, John Olerud and Roberto Alomar. Cito didn’t exactly endear himself to fans of other teams by adding 4 more Jays to the roster: Paul Molitor, Devon White, Pat Hentgen and Duane Ward. Cito, as always, was very loyal to his players.

The game played at the, then, nice, shiny, new Camden Yards in Baltimore. Baltimore had a pretty good team at the time too. Cal Ripken was voted on to the team by the fans, and Cito added Mike Mussina to the roster. Had he known how things were going to turn out I’m sure he would have picked someone else for the roster spot.

I asked Pat Hentgen about that game and not getting to pitch and he said this:

Yeah that was when Cito called us into the office prior to the All-Star game and said hey listen you guys are young, I got some other veteran guys that made the All-Star team, I’m going to pitch them and save you for back up in case we go extra innings. So you basically are not going to pitch. The way I see it you are young and you’ll be back another one. I remember walking out of his office thinking, darn, I can’t believe he is thinking that. But he was right. At that time, did I think I’d make another one? I wasn’t so sure, I didn’t know. You have a lot of doubt as a professional athlete. Not everyone is super super confident. He was right, I made another one and pitched in 94 and 97. That 93 one was a great experience.

The game didn’t go into extra innings and neither Hentgen nor Mussina were used. In Pat’s case, it was barely noticed. In Mussina’s?

The Baltimore fans wanted to see their pitcher in the game. That’s very understandable. What isn’t so easy to understand is that Mussina decided to get up and throw in the bullpen, in the 9th inning, without being asked to do so by Cito. He got up to turn the fans against Cito and it worked. It was a scummy thing to do. Cito’s response:

”By standing up, he (Mussina) showed me he’s a person with little class. Screw him. I just won’t take him next year”.

Cito likely should have taken the high road and choose not to.

But then, Cito lied, he did take Mussina to in the 1994 All-Star game and he used him in that game. But Oriole fans have never forgiven Cito and Cito never forgave Mussina. They still wear ‘Cito Sucks’ tee shirts. Cito even got death threats when when the team was in Baltimore. Very classy.

So who was wrong? Well, both of them. Cito should have used Mussina. It was his home field in front of his fans. The All-Star game should be for the fans. Cito wanted to save Mike in case of extra innings, but the AL was up 9-3 in the 9th, there was little chance of extras. I think he should have let him pitch the ninth.

But, Mussina was also wrong and a jerk for showing up Cito like that. I guess his excuse is that he was young, but it was a classless thing to do. Once Mussina got up to throw, on his own, that ‘little chance’ that he might have come into the game, changed to no way in hell. There was no way Cito would be blackmailed into bringing him into the game. Mussina’s best chance would have been to ask his manager Johnny Oates (who was a coach on the AL team) to ask Cito to bring him in. That would have been the right way to go about things, and it might have worked. Cito is a reasonable guy.

It all turned out about as poorly as it could have. Mussina didn’t help much after the game, saying:

”It was the biggest ovation I ever got for never being in a game,” Mussina said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get into the game. There was nothing said. They [the fans] all wanted to see me pitch. They’re die-hard Baltimore fans. They waited 35 years for this game.”

Oriole GM Frank Robinson had the proper response:

”I’m disappointed in the fan reaction. I don’t think it’s right,” said Robinson, who played in 11 All-Star Games and was honorary co-captain of this year’s AL team. “I’d like to have seen Mussina get in. But there was no reason for that. It’s an All-Star Game, an exhibition.

I don’t think anyone came out of this looking good.

After the jump we’ll look at how the Jays players did in the game.

How did the Jay players do in the game?

Roberto Alomar: Started the game, hitting lead off. He went 1 for 3 with a solo home run in the 3rd off Andy Benes.

Paul Molitor: Started the game, batting second. He went 0 for 1 with a walk.

Joe Carter: Started the game, hitting cleanup. He went 1 for 3 with a strikeout.

John Olerud: Started the game, hitting 5th. He went 0 for 2.

Devon White: Replaced Ken Griffey in the top of the 6th. He went 1 for 2, with a double, run, RBI and stole base.

Duane Ward: Pitched the 9th (yeah, while Mussina threw in the bullpen). He got 3 quick outs, 2 strikeouts and a ground out.

The lone Oriole to play, Cal Ripken, went 0 for 3 with a strikeout.