No more favors.
No more acts of support, no more helping them out, no more assisting in growing this grand game.
If I’m Andrew McCutchen, that’s my stance — and a very hardline one — toward Major League Baseball as I sit and ponder some thoughts in the aftermath of what happened in St. Louis on Wednesday.
Luckily the Pirates’ star centerfielder wasn’t hit by a fastball from St. Louis pitcher Shelby Miller in his already gimpy ribs and back.
Nope, Miller missed him. Threw behind him.
What came next in the eventual 1-0 loss for the Pirates were warnings for both teams and a wry smile from McCutchen but a very serious issue that just won’t go away: What is Major League Baseball going to do to protect Andrew McCutchen?
Something, anything would be nice.
There is absolutely no question, when Miller unleashed that pitch behind McCutchen, home plate umpire Ron Kulpa should have immediately ejected Miller.
He didn’t. By not doing so he failed McCutchen and he failed Major League Baseball.
Indeed, Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez hit two Cardinals hitters — Matt Holliday and Matt Adams — a few innings earlier, but one came on what looked like it had no intent while the other came on a breaking pitch.
Miller’s effort to hit McCutchen, though …
“It was an ambush, it was a cheapshot,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
It also wasn’t the first time in the recent past McCutchen has been thrown at — luckily this time it missed.
In Arizona in early-August, McCutchen was drilled by the Diamondbacks’ Randall Delgado in retaliation for Paul Goldschmidt getting hit. In an ultimate act of baseball cowardice, Delgado missed McCutchen with a first-pitch fastball, then threw a breaking ball away before hammering McCutchen in the side with a fastball on the third pitch of an at-bat.
We all know what happened afterward.
McCutchen was injured the next day on a swing, but maintained the impetus for the injury was being hit by the Delgado pitch.
In the middle of a pennant and Wild Card chase, McCutchen was forced to sit 15 days with an injury while Delgado was never suspended.
What a travesty; what a joke.
It leads us to a bigger picture, however.
Baseball should take care of its superstars — especially this one.
How many times over the past few decades have you been barraged with message from Major League Baseball that there aren’t enough African-American kids playing the sport?
How many times have you read the statistics, seen the studies and heard the general malaise about how young black kids in this country aren’t taking to this magnificent game?
I don’t know what your answer is, but I know what my answer is: I hear that message all the time.
And you know what can grow the game just as much — if not more — than some grassroots effort or some television ad campaign centered on getting African-American kids to play the sport?
It is a real life, African-American superstar playing the game the right way, conducting his business on and off the field with the grace and humility of a saint and being one of the most marketable faces and figures in professional sports.
That isn’t a fictitious person.
That’s Andrew McCutchen.
You see, Major League Baseball already has that hotter-than-a-spotlight African-American superstar that could serve to really cultivate their game.
And how do they treat him? Not well enough.
What thanks does he get for being available for seemingly every one of their media requests, being the poster person for some of their initiatives and being flashed on our screen on the MLB Network what seems like thousands of times a day? Andrew McCutchen gets thanked by getting drilled in the ribs in Arizona and no one getting suspended and then getting a ball throw behind him in St. Louis on Wednesday and the pitcher not getting ejected.
Pure rubbish. Total and utter garbage.
I have some unsolicited advice for McCutchen. The next time Major League Baseball comes calling and wants to use you to grow their game, your answer should be a simple, “you start taking care of me and I’ll keep taking care of you. Until then, forget about it.”
Until then, Cutch should stay in the promotions business, however. But he should do more to worry about promoting himself and less to help out a league that has shown in the recent past to not help him out.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.
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