Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On Andrew McCutchen

As a Pirate fan, it's hard to see the end of the McCutchen era in Pittsburgh.  I wasn't watching his whole career like some other bloggers or fans.  Instead, I only reconnected with the Pirates recently.

Let me start at the beginning -- I grew up in Delaware, in the Philadelphia media market.  Schmidt and the 1980 Phils were legends; their World Series win happened when I was about to turn 5 years old, and I barely remember anything except how excited everyone was.  I only followed baseball loosely after that, until the summer of 1987.  Then my friends and I started buying packs of 1987 Topps baseball cards at the local 7-Eleven.  I was 11 years old, and started dedicating most of my waking moments to following baseball.  I read through a bunch of statistics and decided the Pirates would be my favorite team; I was being a bit contrarian, because literally everybody else I knew was a Phillies fan.  I sensed they were going somewhere, though -- they had Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Andy Van Slyke.  Over the next several years I got to see them develop and eventually win three straight division championships, just missing a chance at the World Series due to former Pirate Sid Bream.  In 1993, I left for college.  Back in those days college kids didn't get cable in the dorms, and the internet barely existed.  I didn't watch much of the 1993 season, or 1994.  When the strike happened in 1994, it was easy to just give up on the game.  I stopped following baseball entirely.
2014 Panini Classics - Significant Signatures Materials - Silver Jerseys #3 - Andrew McCutchen /149 - Courtesy of COMC.com
2014 Panini Classics - Significant Signatures Materials - Silver Jerseys #3 - Andrew McCutchen /149
In the following years, I occasionally watched the World Series, but nothing else.  I saw Jim Leyland, Bobby Bonilla, Darren Daulton, and others win with Marlins in 1997.  I didn't care about all the years the Yankees won.  I remember Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling leading the Diamondbacks to victory in 2001, Troy Glaus and the Angels in 2002, the Marlins again in 2003, the Red Sox breaking their curse in 2004, and the Phillies getting their second championship in 125 years of existence in 2008.  I don't think I watched any other years.

Then my son was born in the summer of 2015.  My wife had maternity leave in the summer, and I had paternity leave in the fall.  My son and I spent a lot of hours alone together that fall.  I bought the MLB online package (we were out of market for the Pirates back then) and started watching the Pirates again, after over 20 years of absence.  It was easy to be a fan again, what with time to watch the games again, and with McCutchen leading the Bucs to a 98-64 record and what was their third recent playoff experience.

The 2016 and 2017 seasons weren't as successful and were harder to watch, but it was still a lot of fun.  McCutchen was the key to the team both these years, and seeing him rebound in 2017 was awesome.  It has been frustrating as the management has decided not to make moves that would lead to better outcomes, and now that they're disassembling the team that drew me back into baseball.

I've said before that I only own 17 cards from post-1994.  One of those is a George Foster that I got in a trade with Greg from The Collective Mind.  The other 16 are recent Donruss cards I bought at the dollar store (four packs of four cards) this past year.  I did just recently buy three more modern cards, though; they're in my COMC account, so I don't actually have them yet, and I wasn't going to post about them until I received them.  But I decided to put up the McCutchen that I bought, using a COMC picture.  Until now, the only autographed cards that I've had were signed at card shows that Dad and I attended together back in the day.  I don't expect to get many modern cards, and this includes not looking for many modern autographed cards.  But I wanted one of McCutchen, who more than anyone else in MLB is why I'm watching the Pirates again.  I bought one of the above 2014 Panini Classics Significant Signatures Materials cards a few weeks ago; the one pictured isn't mine (which is numbered 10/149) but is another for sale at COMC.  I was hoping to be watching McCutchen as a Pirate for a long time, but that isn't how baseball works these days.  Instead, this card will commemorate my return to baseball fandom.

1 comment:

  1. I'll add, my absence happened to miss the Pirates' 20 consecutive losing seasons. One hopes we're not on that track again now.