On any given evening at PNC Park, you will hear multiple cheers and multiple jeers ring throughout the north shore stadium. Whether it’s cheering on your favorite pierogies, or it’s booing Ryan Braun, the fans get into the game. There is however, one that sticks out more than the others.
“M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P.”
Not since the times of Barry Bonds in the early 1990s was a Pittsburgh Pirate worthy of this praise. Not only does Andrew McCutchen boost a line of .345/.411/.568 with 24 home runs and 79 RBI, all which lead or are tied for the lead on his team, but despite his struggles in August, McCutchen is still the prohibitive favorite to win the prestigious award.
His manager Clint Hurdle said McCutchen is like that big, dominate kid in little league.
“As good as this is from Andrew’s perspective, I actually have spent time with guys who’ve been better,” Hurdle said. “Which is crazy. It’s absolutely nuts. It’s like the big kid in little league that just dominates the whole year. You win an MVP title at the end of that because you’re the baddest dude in the league.”
But the thing about McCutchen is he may be the top player in baseball, but he’s a normal guy off of it who enjoys doing everyday things.
“I think that’s something that gets lost at times is that we are just like everyone else off the field,” McCutchen said. “We just get to play baseball for a living.”
As you saw with his mother when she sang the National Anthem at PNC Park this year, music runs in the McCutchen family. But it isn’t the singing that trickled down to her son.
Placed beside McCutchen’s locker is a small keyboard that is hooked up to his computer. Cutch said that his mother’s talents may have worn off on him a bit, but instead of singing like her, he makes beats.
“I guess it did rub off a little bit but not really,” McCutchen said with a laugh. “With her being around the house singing all the time, it did a little bit. I couldn’t tell you what it was, but I’m sure she played a part in it.”
When asked if he picked up his mother’s singing voice also, McCutchen says no way.
“I just play around with the music and leave the singing up to her,” McCutchen said. “She’s good at it. I do this just to pass the time as a hobby.”
And McCutchen wanted to be sure to say it was just a hobby. You don’t have to worry about him being the next Pharrell Williams or selling beats to Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa.
“(Laughs) naw. I just keep myself busy,” McCutchen said. “I’m no Pharrell or anything like that. It’s all fun.”
Growing up in Florida with his family close by, McCutchen said aside from his mom’s singing, a big thing for him and his extended family was playing video games growing up.
“My family are big gamers. My aunts, cousins all used to sit around the house when I was younger playing Pac-Man, so I used to watch them play that a little bit,” McCutchen said.
McCutchen is quite busy with baseball nowadays and he has moved away from his video game playing.
“I’m not a huge video game guy anymore. I still have one or two games that I like to play a lot,” McCutchen said. “I tried to set my system up here in the locker, but the TV and Playstation doesn’t work so I can’t even play it here (laughs). “I’m not a huge gamer like you see in those competitions, but I do enjoy it from time to time.”
But one of the things that McCutchen enjoys doing the most is doing charity events. No, seriously. He really does.
Many athletes have to make appearances at certain events – as it was well documented in the Dejan Kovacevic column – but McCutchen goes to events he isn’t required to because he actually wants to.
“You do things because you want to do them, not because you feel like you have to do them. If you feel like you have to, you won’t give everything you got to what you’re doing so you may as well not even do it,” McCutchen explained.
“I do everything because I want to and I have a lot of fun with it because the kids get to interact with me and do a lot of things that kids don’t usually get to do. I do what I can with it and try to leave them with something every single time I see them or talk with them.”
That must be what Hurdle meant when he said McCutchen was the most intelligent, mentally tough and balanced man he ever met. It’s not just on the field, but the way he carries himself off of it also.
“The thing about Andrew, I don’t think I’ve ever met a more intelligent, mentally tough, balanced young man in my life,” Hurdle said. “We’ve had some conversations in the past month that have been awesome and interesting. I’ve shared with him that I don’t know what it’ s like to run on the field hearing people scream M-V-P. I know what it’s like to run out on the field and have people scream at you.”
So when the MVP award is handed out in a couple months, don’t be surprised if you see the pearly-white smile of McCutchen holding the trophy for his accomplishments on the field. But remember off the field, he’s just like you and me.
Photo Credits: Vince Lucas