CLUTCH CUTCH: Anyone curious about the Pittsburgh Pirates being a postseason regular of late need look no further than center fielder Andrew McCutchen as the reason why. Yeah, the Bucs have a nice lineup across the board, they have pitching, they draw great crowds from a reputedly fickle fan base to arguably the best facility in all of pro sports and manager Clint Hurdle seems to have a midas touch. But their success down the stretch begins and ends with “Cutch.” Put it this way, if it’s August or later, count on him coming through. Sunday night’s four-RBI effort in a comeback blowout of the Los Angeles Dodgers was just another example of his clutch performing. Starting with his MVP season of 2013, McCutchen has batted .350 with 16 homers, 52 RBIs and 67 runs scored in 351 post-July at-bats. Don’t look now, but currently his line stands at .301, 17, 74 and 64 – and rising, which will put him in the MVP hunt again, and the Bucs likely in the playoffs.
SPEAKING OF MVP: The national media seems to believe that Los Angeles Angels golden boy Mike Trout has a stranglehold on the American League MVP for as long as he wants. Hey, the guy is a great player, but let’s not act appalled and disgusted at the thought, if not possible reality, that he may not repeat this season as that circuit’s recognized best player. Toronto’s Josh Donaldson, apparently, is going to make Trout earn it. The offseason pickup has proven a godsend to the Blue Jays, spearheading their run at the 2015 postseason. Trout, as usual, has great numbers, leading the majors (along with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz) with 33 homers, but Donaldson has 31 and leads the AL in both RBIs (83) and runs scored (82). This could get interesting.
COMEBACK KID: The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez had captured much of the sentiment for AL Comeback Player of the Year honors by midseason, and deservedly so since he had a great first half. But, right now, his “lead” should be shrinking with the consistent emergence of Baltimore’s Chris Davis. The big fella mashed his 29 homer on Sunday, which also gave him 80 RBIs. Considering his 2014 campaign ended prematurely with him being suspended due to testing positive for a banned substance (Adderall), he has rebounded nicely, already providing the Orioles with more production this season than he did last season in 61 less at-bats. Though not on the same kind of pace as his 53-homer 2013 campaign, Davis may hit 40 or more this year.
STOP THE MADNESS: Chicago Cubs fans, from afar at least, are an enduring lot. Their dedication to following what has appeared to be a dysfunctional and often abysmal product the organization placed on the field is as worthy of your amazement as it is your wondering what in blue blazes is wrong with those people. But, I digress … enough with the asinine throwing-the-ball-back after a visiting team hits a home run. Every friggin’ fan base has taken to doing this, and it’s as moronic and meaningless to the home team’s efforts now as it was when it first occurred. You don’t need a player getting beaned by a “throwback” from his own fan base (hello, Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner on Sunday) to know that. Cubs fans, you started this absolute idiocy. Teach the mindless sheep a better lesson by ending it, once and for all.
Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org