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January 15, “A day that will live in infamy”…Oops, sorry. Wrong FDR speech. January 15, 2018 was the day that Pittsburgh Pirates ownership sent former outfielder Andrew McCutchen unceremoniously packing along with his $14.75 million salary.

On May 11, almost five months later, McCutchen returned to his familiar stomping grounds, PNC Park, as a member of the San Francisco Giants to face his former team. There were many theories on how receptive or non-receptive his former fan base might be. Well, based on three raucous ovations (including several standing ovations) that McCutchen received from the PNC Park faithful, I surmise that May 11, 2018 will certainly be a day in infamy for the ownership of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

McCutchen could still be sporting the colors of the Buccos if mean green had not been the color of the day on Jan. 15. Nostalgia was the word for the day as the Pirates broadcasted a couple of nice, touching videos profiling a former MVP and in the eyes of many, “The Face of the Franchise.”

Andrew McCutchen should still be the heart and soul of the Pirates because, according to many sources, he is liked and respected by his peers, his coaches and his city. Attendance for the weekend series was far above normal. The May 11 crowd of almost 35,000 was the largest crowd to watch a Pirates game this year.

And who knows, the Pirates may still have ace pitcher Gerrit Cole on the roster, if the Bucs would have made more of an effort to boost the 2017 roster and make one last playoff run with McCutchen as the franchise centerpiece.

However, the R&B group the O’Jays might have put it just a bit more realistically. I can still hear their lead singer Eddie Levert crooning; “Money, money, money money…Some people got to have it. Some people really need it. Do things, do things, do things, bad things with it. Do things, do things, do things, good things with it.”

What good things come from the Pirates ownership regarding the revenue that is earned from the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise? According to an article on http://www.bizjournals.com from 2017, the City of Pittsburgh ranked around 27th of 30 cities when it comes to philanthropy. To say that Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Pirates are a tad frugal would not be a blatant misrepresentation, so where is all of the profit that the Pirates are earning disappearing to?

Mark Madden, a sports radio host on 105.9 FM “The X” was again a guest on WPXI’s “The Final Word” Sunday night, May 13, and had this to say about Andrew McCutchen’s heartfelt return: “Come to salute ‘Cutch,’ stay for the Pirates victory. It should be noted that the most important thing about the weekend was that the Pirates won two out of three and kept in contention for a playoff spot and for that matter, for the top spot in the NL Central. Andrew McCutchen wasn’t Willie Stargell, wasn’t Honus Wagner, wasn’t Roberto Clemente, wasn’t Ralph Kiner, wasn’t Barry Bonds. I’m not even sure he was Dave Parker or Al Oliver. But he was a good player in a little window winning for the Pirates after 20 years of incompetence.”

Except for superficial honorable mentions of Barry Bonds, Al Oliver and Dave Parker, every other Pittsburgh Pirates great that made the “Mark Madden” Hall-of-Fame list now only exists in our memories.

Andrew McCutchen couldn’t control what era he was born in. He was a smiling face, enduring the pain of losing on an almost-daily basis. When he was all that the Pirates had to celebrate, he was a white-hot All-Star in an otherwise “dark and starless Pirate universe.” He was the Phoenix rising from the ashes of what was supposed to be a MLB franchise. McCutchen was sailing upon dark and treacherous seas in a dingy, when he should have been an officer and a crew member on the USS Pirate, a destroyer supposedly primed for battle. When Andrew McCutchen first donned a Pirates uniform; the “Jolly Roger” was not so jolly because the Pirates were and still are in the process from raising “Roger” from the dead.

(Aubrey Bruce: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com)

 

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