McCutchen is Money
I touched on the emergence of Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen last week as a key to the Pirates playoff run, but after thinking about it more, I felt he deserved a full write up for this week’s Buzz. After all, he is having a career year for a team and fan base that is craving for a winner.
So just how good has he been this season? Through 106 games, McCutchen leads the National League (NL) with a .371 batting average and has 23 HRs (4th in NL) and 69 RBIs (10th in NL). More impressively, he is second in the NL with 77 runs scored and is first in slugging percentage (.623) and second in on base percentage (1.052).
McCutchen’s success this season is a testament to the outfielder’s work ethic and dedication to improving his game. Using his subpar .216 batting average during the second half of last season as motivation, McCutchen spent the offseason tweaking his swing and mentally redefining how he approaches hitting the ball. The result isn’t just a breakout season for McCutchen, it’s that for the first time since Barry Bonds Pittsburgh has a legitimate MVP candidate.
More importantly, the Pirates hold the third best record in the NL at 63-47 and they’re only 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central. When was the last time the Pirates were in contention and made the playoffs? 1992, when McCutchen was only 5 years old.
I just love watching McCutchen play too – he runs the bases well, anchors the outfield in centerfield and just plays the game right. I’ll be pulling for him to win the MVP award as he leads the Pirates to the playoffs capping off what has been an amazing season.
When O.co Coliseum was a baseball park
As I was sitting in the stands at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Oakland Athletics game on Wednesday at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, I couldn’t help but look around and reflect back to a time when the stadium was a ballpark. I found myself recounting many weekend summer afternoons as a kid sitting in the outfield bleachers spitting sunflowers seeds and drinking Orange Fanta.
Has it really been 16 years since the outfield bleachers were ripped out to make room for a 20,000 seat expansion (known in the Bay Area as Mt. Davis: a not so tribute to former Raiders owner Al Davis) to accommodate the Raiders relocation from Los Angeles back to Oakland?
I think everyone can agree now that it was terrible idea. Sure, the Raiders have been more profitable, but at what cost? The Athletics have suffered greatly (especially at the gate); the fan experience has been largely diminished; and what was once a nice ballpark with beautiful sight lines looking east into the Oakland Hills has become a concrete eye-sore.
It is really unfortunate for the team and their fans. They deserve better. They deserve an intimate ballpark that puts fans close to the field with access to first-class amenities. But with the San Francisco Giants blocking a proposed relocation to Fremont, it appears the team is stuck at O.co for the immediate future. Not even a 32 ounce fountain soda of Orange Fanta can cure that bleak outlook.
Larkin and Santo Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame
On July 22, two great infielders, Barry Larkin and Ron Santo were the 2012 inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Larkin was a player I grew up admiring, especially his ability to play shortstop. He had a laser of an arm and arguably the best range of any shortstop in baseball history. A career .295 hitter, Larkin played his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds, was a 12-time All-Star and earned nine Silver Slugger Awards. I remember him for all those accomplishments, but probably more for how he killed the Giants over his career.
Santo was a 5-time Gold Glove Award winner who anchored the third base position for the Chicago Cubs for 14 seasons where he was also a 9-time All-Star who hit 342 career homeruns and eclipsed at least 20 or more homeruns in at least 11 seasons. Unfortunately, Santo passed away in 2010, but it had to be a huge honor for his family, as well as Cubs fans to finally see him take his place in Cooperstown.
Next year will be very interesting for the Hall of Fame and its voters, as it will be first year players from the PED-era such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa (once thought to be automatic first-ballot inductees) will be eligible. Do writers hold out electing them to the Hall of Fame for a year as a protest and then vote them in 2014? Or do they put them through? I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
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