NEW YORK—Following the Yankees' 13-4 loss Monday, starting pitcher Mike Mussina informed reporters that his latest submission to McSweeney's, a niche literary journal and humor website founded by Dave Eggers, had been rejected.
According to Mussina (13-7, 3.56), the piece was entitled "Discarded Titles For Hunter S. Thompson's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas," and included such examples as "Dread And Abhorring In Las Vegas," "Trepidation And Disliking In Las Vegas," and, in what Mussina described as a "bit of a switch," "Fear And Loathing In St. Paul, Minnesota." Mussina said he submitted the piece—his seventh attempt overall—last Thursday, and received an e-mail reply Monday morning notifying him that it had not been selected.
Nonetheless, Mussina's spirits remain high, and he is reportedly looking forward to composing and submitting many more lists, sestinas, and open letters in the coming months.
"I was thinking of doing a list called, 'Children's Board Game Manufacturer Or Major League Baseball Player?' where 'Milton Bradley' could be the 'both' answer, cuz they always do the thing where one of them is 'both,' but then I couldn't come up with any other examples that sounded close," Mussina told reporters at his locker Monday night. "Also, I don't want them to think that just because I'm a baseball player, I can only do baseball-themed ones. I want to get outside my comfort zone."
Mussina's past submissions include "Insults That Would Only Work If You Were Talking To The Leucadendron Genus Of Plants," "Sequel Titles To Famous Revolutionary War Battles," and "Companies With Hard-To-Remember 1-800 Numbers," which he admits he built around the idea of one of the examples being "8347826, Inc."
According to Mussina, he has received swift and polite e-mail replies to his submissions ranging from "I thank you for taking the time to submit, but I'm afraid we're going to have to pass on this one" to "I'm going to pass on this one, but I thank you for the look."
"The guy seems like a really nice guy," Mussina said of the submissions overseer who has sent him the replies. "My last one, he said it was 'Pretty clever, but I'm going to have to pass in the end.' That means I'm pretty close, I think. His name is John Warner."
Mussina was first introduced to the website in April, when Yankee closer Mariano Rivera sent out a mass e-mail urging teammates to "check out his latest McSweeney's piece," a "short imagined monologue" written by a toaster. Mussina, who while in the minor leagues frequently submitted to Baltimore's alternative weekly City Paper, said that the site's absurd yet restrained writing style instantly resonated with him.
"I like the meta stuff," Mussina said. "There's this one thing they did called 'Butterball Help-Line Help-Line.' It's really funny. I almost e-mailed the girl who wrote it, but then I didn't."
Although Mussina had not initially considered submitting, he was surprised to find that in the weeks after first visiting the site, ideas which he described as "McSweeney's-esque" kept popping into his head.
"Sometimes the best ideas come to you on the mound," Mussina said. "That's why I always carry around my little black notebook on the field."
"The one I really thought had a pretty good chance to get in was this open letter I did called, 'An Open Letter To That Guy From The "Don't Worry, Be Happy" Video Who's Not Bobby McFerrin Or Robin Williams,'" Mussina continued. "It was like talking about how he was underutilized and underappreciated in the video, but he was the glue that held it together, sarcastic stuff like that. Mostly the funny part is that in the title, the way I refer to him."
"Boy, it'd be awesome to get a list in and see my name up there on the Internet," Mussina added. "My parents would be so proud. They probably wouldn't get it, though."
Mussina's recent foray into the world of online writing has also made him view some of his teammates in a different light.
"Jason [Giambi] is just so naturally funny," Mussina said. "I keep telling him he should submit. But he's more of a performer. He'll come up with the funniest things off the top of his head. Me, I prefer sitting in front of a computer for two, three hours, and really sort of crafting the jokes. Jason could do it if he wanted, though. He's really, really funny."
"My next submission I think has a really good shot of getting in—'Works Of Ernest Hemingway If Hemingway Were A Robot,'" Mussina added. "You got your obvious ones like 'The Amperage Also Rises,' and 'A Farewell To Cybernetic Arms.' Then Joba [Chamberlain], in the bullpen the other day jokingly suggested 'The Old Robot And The Sea,' which at first I thought was stupid. But the more I thought about it, it actually might be pretty funny to just sort of point out the inherent absurdity of the original premise. Joba's a funnier guy than he thinks."
McSweeney's Internet Tendency web editor John Warner confirmed that he has received multiple submissions from the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Mike has some good ideas," Warner said. "I was strongly tempted to select his last piece, but I'm afraid that I didn't see it as a fit for us. I wish him luck in placing it elsewhere, and encourage him to continue submitting."
Mussina plans to send his latest rejected McSweeney's submission to the New Yorker's "Shouts & Murmurs" section, which has published three of Mussina's pieces in the past two months.