Deja-Hurdle All Over Again With Andrew McCutchen
By Tom Smith
The Pittsburgh Pirates are on their 13th starting pitcher of the season. It’s obvious that the Bucs pitching has become a big weakness. Is Dusty Baker really a lot smarter than we think? The Bucs can’t afford to lose a pitcher to suspension. So did Baker outsmart the Bucs once again by dictating the action? Probably.
Were the Reds getting retaliation for losing their star Brandon Phillips? Probably. You might remember that the Reds star thought he broke his arm after getting beaned by the Bucs.
There are many layers to the bean balls between the Bucs and Reds. The Reds have reasons to be pissed. The Pirates have reasons to be pissed.
But haven’t we seen this act before? Last year we wrote this letter to Clint Hurdle when the team failed to respond to the Reds actions. The article was received with venom by most everyone.
We recall A.J. Burnett in an interview with 93.7 The Fan at Piratesfest saying he would have had McCutchen’s back if he would have been the starter rather than James McDonald last August.
So who will have McCutchen’s back tonight?
Maybe it comes down to psychology like this interesting article about a Brown University study on the beanball at numerous Major League ballparks.
"“It’s really beautifully captured by this quote from the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven: ‘Deserve’s got nothing to do with it,’” Cushman said. “The idea is we have to protect ourselves, we have to do something to respond to this act. The person we’re targeting isn’t morally responsible but the practical demands of the situation are such that we’ve got to do something and this is it.”"
So, that’s all Pittsburgh Pirates fans got last night? What happened to “Pride, Passion, Pittsburgh Pirates?” We’ve listened to your passionate speeches for a couple of years now, and that’s what we got? Fans got to see you asking crew chief Brian Gorman “Why did you do that?”
What? Gorman threw you out, because you said too much.
Winners dictate. Winners dominate. Winners control their own destiny. You know all of these things. Hell, you preach ’em everyday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t dictate anything last night. Specifically, you didn’t dictate anything last night. It really was surprising to us.
You’re a man that says all the right things. You talk the talk. Hell, you were even very candid when you spoke to us in a RumBunter podcast at the start of the season.
We can’t imagine why you chose this city over New York, but we tell you what – we are damn glad you did.
Until last night.
As fans, we deserved more. In the interview we had with you, you made the point that Pittsburgh was a football and hockey city. Last night, we thought you were going to show us what an old-school baseball town was.
It never happened.
Right now, Pittsburgh certainly feels like a baseball city, and come Monday evening it will feel like that again, but a void will still be present among your players and some of your fans. Maybe too much was riding on the game in the Chili City last night.
It was prime time and the club was blacked out. You were blacked out, tossed, gone, sent to the showers. Unreal. The guy that is credited with turning baseball around in this town got tossed from the most meaningful series this franchise has had in twenty years.
What a shame.
Maybe the team knew what the plan was going in. If so, we understand the outcome. Cue the jugglers.
When you spoke in the podcast, you said that the Pittsburgh school systems were off the chart. Obviously, that was important to your family when you made your decision to come to Pittsburgh. If you were to relate that to the ball diamond, isn’t old school baseball important too?
Many people like to point to the fact that you’ve had just one winning season as a manager in the bigs. That season was magical. People called you a player’s manager. So, what was up last night?
Andrew McCutchen is an MVP candidate. You have spoken glowingly about him. Hell, you actually predicted what McCutchen is doing right now. On a daily basis, your prophetic predictions are coming true.
So what happened last night? Why not defend Cutch early, and get it over with? Dictate. Dominate.
When we listened to the podcast again, we found something interesting you said that has great relevance to the game last night.
"‘You don’t wait for leadership opportunities.’ Clint Hurdle"
A Pirates team in the midst of a playoff run needed leadership last night. Leadership didn’t show. The Bucs are now five and a half games back of the NL Central leading Reds. The Reds are playing like the best team in baseball.
Nothing you did last night changed that fact.
Nothing you did dictated the action.
No wonder your MVP candidate was juggling baseballs on the bench. He struck out twice in an 0-fer-night. Cutch hadn’t struck out twice in a game in two weeks, so that’s on him. But last night was on you. As you said in the podcast, everyone is a better manager than you, so it’s really easy for us to write this and second guess your decision. We get it.
But look it’s not like we are talking about Brian Giles or Jack Wilson anymore. Andrew McCutchen is a star. A star on and off the field. Good Lord, he’s the guy that first thought about having his Dad to pitch to him in the Home Run Derby. When that didn’t work out, he picked his Fort Meade High School Coach Jon Spradlin.
That’s the type of player we are talking about – a guy that thought of his high school coach when he was picked for the Home Run Derby… and you didn’t defend him immediately, Clint?
Is putting the lead base runner of the game that make or break? Wouldn’t it show JMac your utmost confidence in him, too?
We’re curious if you asked McCutchen what he thought about the situation. If Cutch said it’s not that big of a deal, okay… cool, we bet you probably thanked him for his opinion. But then you go out and still take care of business immediately.
Cutch is a guy tearing up this league; he gives you six wins over replacement. A superstar. He took a 101-mph fastball from the hardest throwing left handed pitcher in baseball. And you did nothing to respond to it. Nothing.
The face of the franchise was drilled. The franchise does nothing to defend him. To a nobody like me, that’s pretty jacked.
Sure Brian Gorman made a very questionable decision, but you know what? So did you.
Thank you for your passion,