Ring in Opening Day with Andrew McCutchen, who plays baseball like he’s on a basketball court.
by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17
It’s no secret that the editor of your favorite basketball magazine is a huge baseball fan, too. If I was on the 162-game grind it might not be so sweet, but watched from the distance as a fan, I find the game equally exciting and relaxing. I was lucky enough to catch my favorite team in Arizona about 10 days ago, but it’s not just about the Dodgers. I like players with athleticism and flair, the kind many basketball fans tend to assume don’t even mess with baseball.
One such player is Andrew McCutchen. The dreadlocked, 26-year-old star of the up-and-coming Pittsburgh Pirates is a five-tool player prone to hitting line-drive home runs and making acrobatic catches in centerfield at picturesque PNC Park. And when the MLB 13 The Show cover subject isn’t doing his thing on the diamond, he’s often watching hoops on TV. With today being the traditional Opening Day for the National Pastime, we figured it was time for those of you who haven’t yet read this interview in the print version of SLAM #167 to get to know Andrew.
SLAM: So you were a basketball fan growing up?
Andrew McCutchen: Definitely. Growing up in central Florida, we didn’t really have many teams to watch, but we paid attention to it. Then the Magic came around, and we paid more attention, and then it was the Heat. I definitely do like to watch basketball when I’m home.
SLAM: Do you have any particular team or player you like to watch?
AM: I used to try and make it to a few Orlando Magic games in the offseason, just to go and see them play, because Dwight Howard was my boy. I used to always go and watch him, but he’s out of there now.
SLAM: Did you play when you were younger?
AM: Yeah, I played a little summer league growing up, and we always played streetball—every Sunday, everybody would get out of their church clothes, and we’d lace up and ball out there. That was a lot of fun, doing that every weekend.
SLAM: Pittsburgh seems like a pretty great sports city. Obviously, they want success for you guys in the worst way, and the Steelers and Penguins have great fans. But no NBA. You think an NBA team would do OK there?
AM: I think it would. The fans embrace any type of sport that comes there. And as long as they wear black and gold, that’ll bring some fans in. They just can’t switch the colors up.
SLAM: And would you personally support them?
AM: Definitely. I spend a lot of time in Pittsburgh during the offseason, so I’d definitely be out there supporting them. It would be real cool to go out and see something like that in Pittsburgh.
SLAM: I think there’s a lot of athletes in Pittsburgh—whether it’s out at night or charity or whatever—but I feel like you probably don’t see a lot of NBA guys out in the city.
AM: Yeah, you don’t see any basketball players in Pittsburgh. You don’t really see hockey players, either. It’s mainly just the football and baseball guys.
SLAM: SLAM covers shoes pretty closely, and I saw you recently got a Nike deal. Do they take care of you in terms of off-the-field outfitting, too?
AM: I’m actually gonna be coordinating with a guy that works for Nike, who kind of does urbanwear for Nike. So he’s gonna be taking care of me outside of the field, and I’m looking forward to working with him and seeing what we’re able to do. I just like to be a little different, you know. I don’t like to have the mainstream shoe that’s out—I like to have different looks.
SLAM: Can you wear sneakers on the road, or do the Pirates have a strict policy?
AM: As long as they’re not too flamboyant, you can wear sneakers. I’m wearing sneakers right now.