Colin Dunlap: McCutchen’s Humility Is Astounding
Man, I tried.
As Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen — the reigning National League Most Valuable Player — nestled into a chair on Sunday at Piratefest for an interview on 93.7 The Fan, I pushed just a tad bit.
See, this was his forum, this was his time — if even only for a few minutes — to enjoy the spoils that come with such a prize, to talk about how special that MVP season was for him and harken back on all it meant to him individually to earn such a distinction.
He was given that time, even pushed into it with a few questions leading in that direction so as to tell us all just how superior it feels to be an MVP.
He would have none of it.
“There’s still room to improve,” McCutchen said. “We didn’t win the World Series. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
As I glanced up to his face waiting for more, it was stone. He wouldn’t budge; there wasn’t a smile or snicker.
That was it; that was his answer in totality.
This wasn’t an act, this wasn’t for show and not some charade — McCutchen’s honesty was as true as his gait is graceful. Certainly, the stunningly-talented centerfielder who hit .317 with 21 home runs, 38 doubles, 27 stolen bases and patrolled center from gap-to-gap (and then some) in 2013 is somewhere deep down happy with the MVP award, but he appears far happier as a guy who is intensely driven by, well, being driven.
From the end of April 2013 until the end of the season, McCutchen hit .336, which was best in the National League during that span. Or, to look at it another way, he pretty much had one bad month — and that was it.
From that point on, no one in the National League — day after day — was as good as him.
So again on Sunday, McCutchen was urged with a questions — one that wanted to steer him in a way that would provoke an answer telling us all how he enjoyed that splendid 162 games in 2013 and what it meant to him, individually, to rise to among the elite in baseball.
I did something McCutchen seldom does — I swung and missed twice in a row.
He would have none of it — even when I asked in a different way for a second time.
“I don’t care what kind of year you’ve had,” McCutchen said. “I don’t care if it has been the best year ever, the best in your career. You can always get better, you can always do better. That’s the awesome point of this game — that’s what’s so great about it.”
Plenty has been great about the Pirates’ resurgence.
There was that grandiose ride we were all taken on in 2013 that included a louder-than-a-rock-concert Wild Card game.
There is that ever-identifiable manager who can relate to just about anyone who has ever worked an honest, hard day in their life.
There’s the fact that people in this city are talking Pirates around Christmastime.
But, what might be greatest about these current Pirates is this: The undeniable superstar of this franchise — Andrew McCutchen — isn’t anywhere near satisfied with just being a superstar.
Instead, he just wants to keep getting better.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.