22: The New Face of Baseball – Andrew McCutchen

cutch

In an era in where steroids and PEDs have tarnished the image of baseball and its players, there are very few pure American stars — yet alone any stars — left.

Ryan Braun has suffered a disgraceful fall. Alex Rodriguez is an afterthought. Barry Bonds was forced out of baseball six years ago. If you ask the uninformed fan who the next face of baseball is, I’m sure that there would be a lot of pauses before he answers. Well, I have a simple suggestion for you. You take the best player on one of the the best teams in baseball. How about the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Yes, those Pirates. For Pittsburgh sports fans, many are used to boasting about Ben Roethlisberger or Sidney Crosby, but they have a new superstar to talk about, Andrew McCutchen.

”Cutch” has steadily progressed since making his debut in June 2009. The right-handed hitting center fielder is the total package. He has speed like a gazelle. He shows his power by hitting it to all over the field, including over the fence. He covers ground like a sumo wrestler. Most importantly, he plays the game the right way, free from off-the-field temptations and PED use.

In January, McCutchen was announced as the cover athlete of the baseball video game MLB 2013: The Show, where he beat out CC Sabathia in fan voting. After making the All-Star team for three consecutive years, Cutch is slowly starting to be the face that baseball desperately needs to carry its torch. Just like the Pirates, he is walking the walk with style and class. They don’t the need the media attention that the other teams get to prove their greatness.

Social media is a new tool that players like Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth never experienced. Typically, the media helps create these superstars who play in big markets such as New York or Los Angeles. And given the fact that the Pirates have played in a playoff game since two days before Bryce Harper was born, they have not received much attention from the fans, and especially the people who just tune in to watch during the playoffs. McCutchen is putting Pittsburgh on the map. This Wednesday, ESPN televised the Pirates playing on the road against St. Louis, a game in which the Pirates won easily. It was very symbolic for Cutch and his Buccos.

Given the state of the game rife with scandal and steroids, baseball must utilize their superstars to get fans interested again in watching the game. It starts with finding the right players who epitomize the perfect balance of excellence on and off the field. And Cutch hits a home run in regards to those statistics. He is very proud of who he is, where he came from, and what he is on his way to doing. Young kids learning the game need a role model like this to learn how to play the game the right way, with hard work and dedication. He was drafted out of high school, worked his way up, paid his dues and is now thriving as the cornerstone of the Pirates organization.

Meanwhile, he is leading his team to their best season in ages, and given a terrible collapse, we will be seeing the Pirates playing ball in October for the first time in a long time. Cutch has been there through thick and thin, and did not choose to abandon ship to cash in on a bigger paycheck. He signed a 6-year, $51.5 million extension with the Bucs, showing that he plans to play in Pittsburgh for a very long time. His loyalty to his team and city is commendable and another positive character trait that kids growing up can follow. Very few superstars in any sport these days play with one team their entire career.

McCutchen is a rising star for a rising franchise. He has made Pittsburgh a baseball city again and has the rest of Major League Baseball buzzing as well. Steroids and PED use has given the sport a major black eye, especially with the Braun scandal. Now, Cutch emerges as the new face of a sport that needs a face lift. His skills are elite, his team is playing like it belongs in the World Series and he does this with class personified. He never promotes himself as a superstar, and these days, he does not have to. The Pittsburgh Pirates are back and Cutch is here to stay. Baseball has a new golden boy, and they look to Buc the trend of scandal and negativity into a new era of excellence done in the right way, on and off the diamond.

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Paul Culley
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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