I've been thinking a lot about what to post, what to say. Trading Cutch hit me far, far harder than I had expected. I haven't even followed the team that closely over the last two seasons. But Andrew McCutchen provided me with the best seasons of baseball I've experienced in my 30 years.
When I learned about the Nate McLouth trade, I was initially angry and frustrated. But anger quickly gave way to excitement when I heard they had also called up Andrew McCutchen from AAA, and he would be starting later that day. The Pirates had an odd habit of calling up top prospects for home day games. It was the summer of 2009. I was heading into my senior year of college, and lived about a 15 minute walk from PNC Park. I remember the excitement as I walked to the game alone, feeling like I was part of a small group of people who knew they were going to see the start of something special that day.
It didn't take long to realize this player was something special. I was at his three homer run game that August. And to this day my favorite Cutch memory came on a walk-off game late in a meaningless season.
Andrew McCutchen was one of my favorite players, but just as much for what he did off the field as on. He was heavily involved in the community, in real and meaningful ways that were beyond the "man of the year" fluff that the major sports do these days. He was always kind and giving with fans, especially early in his career. I remember one year at Piratefest, I think it was 2007, I got to the front of the line and put a couple of pictures down for Andrew to sign. After signing the first in blue, without me saying anything beyond "Hi, Andrew," he switched to a silver Sharpie and signed the second photo, which had a darker background. It was so subtle and inconsequential. He could have easily signed both photos in the same color and I would have been just as happy. But that extra thoughtfulness stuck with me.
As a Pirate fan, I'm feeling a lot of things right now. Anger, frustration, aimlessness. But I'm thankful. Thankful for three magic seasons from 2013-2015 in a lifetime that has seen the team lose far, far more than they have won. Thankful that I got to see nine seasons of what very well may be the best baseball player to ever play in my city, and that much of it came during a period in my life when I had the flexibility to see lots of baseball games in person.
But more than anything, I'm thankful for some of the greatest baseball I've ever had the privilege of watching.