This Just In: 'Cutch to 'Frisco
January 15, 2018

It's January. A month for football, college basketball, and even tennis. But with the NFL down to its final four teams, and a play that will go down as the Minnesota Miracle, baseball finally steps up and makes some headlines. Pittsburgh's franchise player is headed west.

Earlier this afternoon, the San Francisco Giants acquired outfielder Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-handed pitcher Kyle Crick, minor league outfielder Brian Reynolds, and 500-thousand dollars in international signing money. Pittsburgh will also send cash to pay part of McCutchen's 14.75 million-dollar salary. McCutchen will be a free agent after this coming year.

The deal makes the Giants contenders again, after acquiring another franchise player, third baseman Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay. It also sends the Pirates reeling into a rebuilding mode, after also trading front line starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to Houston on Saturday. Other Pirates, like Josh Harrison and David Freese, will likely be dealt soon as well.

It's not a good time to be a Pittsburgher (is that what they call them?). The Steelers got ousted from the playoffs by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and now the Pirates are collapsing. The Giants, though, will continue to sell out A T & T Park, and even though they may not be as good as the Dodgers on paper, now make the National League West a four-team conversation (sorry San Diego).

While the sports world is still trying to figure out why Marcus Williams didn't just tackle Stefon Diggs and prevent a 61-yard game-winning touchdown in Minnesota as time ran out, baseball's hot stove may be finally starting to heat up. There are still well over a hundred free agents out there, with the likes of Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, and Eric Hosmer still on the board. What's taking so long is anybody's guess. Normally, the big names go around Christmastime, not spring training. The Super Bowl is in three weeks. Baseball opens in 73 days.

The Jeter factor?: Major League Baseball (and ESPN) have announced the national television lineup for Opening Day, which will be a Thursday this year. All 30 teams will begin play on March 29, and the first game will be the Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins at 9:30am Pacific Time. The Marlins may be baseball's losingest team in 2018 (although Pittsburgh may vie for that now), and they get rewarded with a national game. A new ownership group, led by former Yankee Derek Jeter, bought the club in the off-season, but traded away slugger Giancarlo Stanton and outfielder Marcel Ozuna, with more dumpling likely to follow. What should have happened was have Cincinnati (which always opens at home), be the first televised game. They are, after all, playing the Washington Nationals—a contending team. The other ESPN Opening Day games are the World Series Champion Houston Astros at Texas (12:30pm Pacific), McCutchen and the Giants at the National League Champion Dodgers (4:00pm), and Cleveland at Seattle (7:00pm). It should be noted, in fairness, that neither the Yankees (at Toronto), nor the Red Sox (at Tampa Bay) are on ESPN to start the season.

Down under and out: It's too long of flight to be one and done, but Americans so far at the Australian Open tennis championships have not stuck around very long. Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams, and Coco Vendeweghe all were finished before the tournament was four hours old. On the men's side, Jack Sock and John Isner also got a first-round exit.

Going bananas: Vandeweghe may have gotten knocked out in the first round, but she left a memorable impression. She was issued two time violations by the chair umpire because there were no bananas for her to eat during a changeover. When some arrived during her game, she stopped to take a bite even after the umpire told her to play. Also, when she lost a point in her match against Timea Babos, she slammed down her racket and called Babos a “fucking bitch”. And Vandeweghe isn't even in one of those shithole countries!

Stupidest rule ever: The last play of the New Orleans-Minnesota game on Sunday should never have happened. I don't mean the Stefon Diggs touchdown, but the extra point try that eventually followed. By rule, even though the game had been decided, the Saints ran to the locker room, and there was pandemonium on the field for the Vikings, an extra point had to be attempted. In what was some ten minutes later, eleven members of the Saints came back out of the tunnel, lined up on the two yard line opposite the Vikings. The Minnesota center snapped the ball, and the quarterback, showing class and sportsmanship, took a knee. If a touchdown is scored in overtime to end a game, no PAT is needed (although that didn't used to be true), but if a touchdown ends regulation time, they still have to kick? Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

Rumblin' bumblin' stumblin': A couple of weeks ago, we lost sportscasting icon Dick Enberg. This weekend, we lost another one in Keith Jackson. Jackson is best known for college football, and actually did Washington State games for decades, but he also did just about every sport, including baseball. He called postseason home runs by Chris Chambliss and Reggie Jackson (both with Howard Cosell talking over him), and the famous Bucky Dent homer to beat Boston in a one game playoff in 1978 (Cosell at least waited until after the ball went over the wall on that call). Jackson was 89. Whoa Nellie!

Photo: This was the photo McCutchen used on his Twitter feed when he acknowledged the trade, and thanked the people of Pittsburgh for his time there. I can't tell, but is Buster Posey the catcher in that shot?

View All Commentaries