Cook: Andrew McCutchen strikes out with tweet
Andrew McCutchen was all smiles before a game Sunday at PNC Park, but later struck out with his tweets about travel delays, writes Ron Cook.
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One minute, you're taking a curtain call at PNC Park after hitting two more home runs, chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" pouring down on you from an adoring crowd.
The next minute, you're stuck in the Minneapolis airport on your way to the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., mindlessly tweeting, insinuating that the team that not long ago gave you one of the biggest contracts in franchise history is cheap and, depending on your interpretation, big-timing those same fans who think you're the best thing they've seen on a ballfield here since Barry Bonds.
I liked Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen a lot better Sunday afternoon than I did Sunday night.
What a pleasure it was to watch McCutchen do his thing in a 13-2 win Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, the sizzling, first-place Pirates' 10th win in their past 12 games. He went 3 for 5 to raise his average to a National League-best .362, clobbered home runs Nos. 17 and 18 and drove in four runs. The "M-V-P! M-V-P!" calls are legitimate. You could make quite an argument that the man has been the best player in baseball in the first half of this season.
But McCutchen's work on Twitter wasn't nearly so impressive. Sure, he must have been tired, not to mention frustrated and angry about a long day of travel that, suddenly, had no end in sight. Who among us hasn't been there?
I suppose it would have been OK for McCutchen to take to Twitter to complain if he really believed he was performing a public service and anyone actually, you know, cared about his travel problems or the fact he and teammate Joel Hanrahan didn't arrive at their Kansas City hotel until 3 a.m. But going out of his way to take a cheap shot at his bosses? At a time when the Pirates are flying higher than at any point in nearly 20 years? That's hard to explain. That's impossible to justify.
"So in Minneapolis and delayed til 11:10 central time ... #Awesome ... Giants players=private jet ... Pirates=coach."
McCutchen struck out in that tweet in a couple of ways. Major League Baseball -- not the individual teams -- pays for a player's travel to the All-Star Game. Each player gets a first-class ticket -- not coach -- and one for a guest. The teams are responsible for booking the travel.
You might have heard players make big money these days. They have the right and certainly the means to pay for a private jet, although it's hard to believe there isn't at least one local flight company that would have been delighted to give McCutchen and Hanrahan a free ride to Kansas City in return for an endorsement and the publicity. Apparently, Giants pitcher Matt Cain -- who will start in the game tonight for the National League -- picked up the tab for a plane for he and three teammates.
The Pirates signed McCutchen to a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension in the spring. That's probably what prompted former teammate Paul Maholm -- now with the Chicago Cubs -- to respond to McCutchen's tweet before congratulating him on his amazing first half and wishing him well Monday night in the Home Run Derby.
"All I gotta say is get off your wallet ... "
Clearly, McCutchen did Pirates management wrong. The bosses can't be happy and deserve better in this case. Team president Frank Coonelly declined to comment. That's probably just as well. The last thing he wants to do is get into any kind of hissing contest with his star.
Asked about the tweet Monday in Kansas City, McCutchen told the Post-Gazette's Michael Sanserino, "I was kind of joking about it. Next time, I'll just have to put it in my hands to try and change that."
That's called covering your behind.
McCutchen isn't the first Pittsburgh athlete to cause controversy on Twitter. Steelers linebacker James Harrison often has used the forum to bash NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall made national news with his sympathetic tweets about Osama bin Laden.
But McCutchen's tweet was troubling because it came with a sense of entitlement. How dare they make me travel with the common man? It reminded me just a bit of something Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey wrote in a Twitter war with a fan who had the nerve to criticize him after the team's loss to the Denver Broncos in the playoffs last season.
"I'm rich play for the Steelers and have a awesome life! U wish u had my life!!"
Who needs that?
This will pass, for McCutchen just as it did for Pouncey. Those fans who are offended by McCutchen's comments will forget all about them if he keeps raking at the plate. Management will forgive him. All will be well again in the Pirates' world.
Still, it's nice to think McCutchen -- a good person, by all accounts -- will learn a big lesson. All athletes could learn from his mistake.
Think before you tweet.
First Published July 10, 2012 12:00 am