The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but Andrew McCutchen’s decision to play elsewhere had as much to do with where he is going as well as what transpired last season.
Based on various issues covering a wide array of topics, the reasons for the short-lived tenure of popular Andrew McCutchen as a Milwaukee Brewer became more evident recently. Fans of the Brew Crew may be surprised to hear that the failures their team endured in 2022 to produce wins against a traditional National League bottom feeder had a hand in luring the former NL MVP back to his original team.
Although originally from Florida, McCutchen continued to call Pittsburgh his permanent home even after his ten-year run with the Pirates came to an end when traded to the San Francisco Giants during the 2018 season. After stops in New York, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee between 2019 and 2022, Justice delos Santos writes that McCutchen acknowledged that when given the chance to determine his 2023 employer, his adopted hometown was calling him back.
“I pass [PNC Park] a lot over the years because I live here,” McCutchen said. “There were times where I would drive by it and I couldn’t even look at it just because of the simple fact knowing I can’t be here; I’m not there. There are times where it was difficult to know that I live here but I don’t play here.”
This reasoning is understandable coming from a player whose best years are far behind him. The desire to play for his original team to possibly complete his exceptional career, to exhibit loyalty and thanks, especially when the timing is perfect, is commendable in today’s culture of selfish and greedy signings. However, the second rationale may ruffle a few feathers for ardent Brewers fans.
PIRATES FARED WELL AGAINST IN MILWAUKEE IN 2022
Despite losing 100 games in 2022, the Pirates showed enough pluck during their 19 games against the Brewers to convince McCutchen of jumping off the Milwaukee bus and head east. The Brewers did, in fact, take the season series over the Pirates, winning 11 of those 19 matchups. But, McCutchen saw the Brewers’ inability to thoroughly manhandle Pittsburgh as one of the reasons Milwaukee failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
According to delos Santos’ article: “People can look at the record and say, ‘Oh, they lost 100 games,’ but I don’t believe in that,” McCutchen said. “Just because it says that doesn’t mean they’re a 100-loss ballclub. I truly believe that they’re not. If that was the case, they wouldn’t [have beaten] us. They wouldn’t [have beaten] the Yankees. It’s a club that can do it. It’s just about being consistent.”
True, had the Brewers won a couple of more games over the lowly Pirates, they would not have fallen one game short of the postseason. McCutchen gave Milwaukee effort and leadership in his lone season as a Brewer, exhibiting class and maturity as he did that. Could this be construed as a cheap shot as he walked out the door? It’s possible, depending on which lens through which fans choose to look. But, any observer of last year’s Brewers season would be hard-pressed in citing this as nothing more than a guy looking to go home again. This sounds like a 14-year veteran getting his younger and inexperienced teammates, as well as Pirates fans, something to believe in for 2023.
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