Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Andrew's All Star Adventure

Yah, yah, everybody is on Andrew McCutchen's bandwagon; been that way since the middle of last season. And what better place than the All-Star game to convince the remaining doubters and get a little national love?

It got off to a bit of a bumpy start on the flight to Kauffman Stadium when Cutch tweeted "So in Minneapolis and delayed til 11:10 central time...‪#Awesome‬...Giants players=private jet...pirates=coach." Columnist Ron Cook of the Post Gazette took exception. McCutch replied lighten up, it was just a cyber joke. Whether it was a beef or a self-depreciating yuk, we suspect McCutchen learned a little lesson about how nuance is lost in a 140 character format with his teapot tempest, and maybe how much everyone dissects a star's simple tweet. And he is a star.

ESPN had a sort of shaky presentation of McCutch. Chris Berman stuttered and blanked out at the end of Cutch's Home Run Derby intro, and the network talking heads interviewed Josh Hamilton the entire time Cutch was up during the derby (they did the same for CarGo). The TV crowd missed the tale of McCutch, the first place Buccos, his high school coach feeding him pitches... But it certainly wasn't all bad; there was big love given during other ESPN pieces for both Andrew and the club.

And btw, he hit four long balls (one went 436'), doubling the previous Pirate high held by Barry Bonds while smoking a few liners, his usual MO. So much for ruining his swing.

It sure didn't in the game. He came in after the yelling was over - with the NL's five run first, that was true of everyone who didn't start - and in the sixth lined a single to left off the White Sox' Chris Sales, a lefty, of course. He even flashed a Zoltan after the knock, though TV missed it. Sales and Cutch go way back to high school days in Lakeland, Florida, and McCutch remembers homering off him in high school. Didn't go long this time, but a guy's first All-Star hit ranks right up there. He also bounced out to third against Tampa Bay's Fernando Rodney in the ninth.

He even was gettin' down to James Brown during the pre-game promo sessions, so we guess a good time was had by all. Now back to the regular season; can he possibly improve on a .362/18/60 slash line with 58 runs and 14 stole sacks? If so, he could be contending for a Triple Crown, and those MVP chants could be forecasting the real thing.

And let's not forget Hanny. Joel made his entrance with one out and one on in the bottom of the ninth inning as Tony LaRussa tried to get everyone in the game. Hanrahan faced hometown son Billy Butler of the Royals, and provided his usual drama. He got "Country Breakfast" to fish for a slider during an eight-pitch at bat to finish a K, with a couple of wild pitches thrown in. Now Carlos Ruiz can appreciate what Hot Rod and The Fort face on an everyday basis. He did clock 98 on his heater, and though he disappointed the KC fans, he did thrill the homies from his native haunt of Des Moines, who were out in force to watch him at work.

Hanny, like Cutch, was making his second appearance. And quite deservedly; in the past two seasons, he's notched 63 saves and put up a 2.03 ERA. Now both of them can get back to work at keeping the first place Buccos contending through the dog days, starting Friday against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

  • Two guesses as to the NL Player of the week, on top of being named the June Player of the Month - aw, you got it.
  • Matt Snyder of the Eye On Baseball digs "The Unbelievable And Still Underrated Andrew McCutchen"
  • The Pirates will discount tickets in each the Lower Outfield Box and Outfield Box area of PNC Park for the July 23rd 25th Cub series to $18 in honor of Cutch's 18 long flies.
  • Bruce Keidan's 2010 piece on the young Cutch - "Eye On The Ball" from the Pittsburgh Quarterly. He was a special kid even in high school, and not just as an athlete.
  • Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register covers Hanny's career.


WilliamJPellas said...

Andrew is having a great season, probably his career year. The only beef I have with him is that he's not nearly the basestealer that a guy with his outstanding raw footspeed should be. Honestly, I really, truly believe that he simply doesn't like stealing bases. I think it's that simple. Why, I have no idea. But he certainly doesn't appear to apply himself in terms of technique, which is why the merely faster than average Nate McLouth was a far superior thief, at least in terms of his success rate.

Anyway, I suppose it doesn't matter much if he's hitting .360. I just would rather see a guy with his all around talent have the kind of all around game that would help us win close contests against elite pitching---which means being able to pressure opposing teams with small ball and basestealing, at least when necessary. Anyway, maybe it's still to gripe---mildly---about a guy who is probably the best player in the game this season. Let's hope he keeps raking, and that some reinforcements are on the way for the second half.

WilliamJPellas said...

PS "maybe it's still to gripe" was supposed to read, "maybe it's SILLY to gripe". ;-)

Ron Ieraci said...

Sounds silly, Will, but I think part of it is Garrett Jones is behind him usually, and Andrew staying put opens a right side hole for him. And not that many #3 guys are big base stealers. Then again, you could be right; maybe he just dislikes the wear and tear and/or the pressure of swiping bases. As long as continues to be good at hitting baseballs where people ain't, I'm happy.