May 08, 2015, 10:07AM

McCutchen Seeks Slumpbuster

Trying to right misaligned star.

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Few things have been more torturous than Andrew McCutchen’s current hitting slump, said to be the worst of his six-year career. Despite his and Josh Harrison’s anemic contact at the plate and propensity for the automatic 5-3 put-out, the Pittsburgh Pirates have managed to best last year’s record at this time. As the National League Central cannibalizes itself via bizarre April-May scheduling, the Bucs are not in panic mode. Yet.

It was odd news in late winter when McCutchen underwent “his first haircut in eight years” according to the media. He had his trademark dreadlock braids cut off and sold for charity through MLB.com, which I found somewhat creepy. The haircut seemed to cap off a year of wholesale lifestyle upheaval for the former NL MVP from Fort Meade, FL. He has forever altered his “brand” (when the dreads grow back it’s assumed he will be in the autumn of his career). He has starred in commercials for video games, accepted and then turned down an executive producer slot for a bad MTV baseball show with David Ortiz, been on two Sports Illustrated covers. In December of 2013 he went on the Ellen DeGeneres TV show and proposed to his fiancée Maria—a hokey highlight indeed, dipping down his cool-meter reading ever so slightly. An enormous church wedding would follow the next November and with a slight wonky left knee, McCutchen sleepwalked through Spring Training and now hits like Sammy Khalifa instead of the Dave Parkeresque line drives Pirates fans had become accustomed to.

McCutchen has shown leadership in his “ownership” of his slump and the team’s overall woes at the plate. When he is not writing excellent articles for Derek Jeter’s fancy website on how black youth have been isolated from baseball, he’s teaching by example how Jeter should’ve talked to the media all those years. McCutchen does not use the crutch of postgame platitudes. He tweeted a picture of his bat sitting on a bus seat, telling his followers he had “a looong talk” with the piece of wood. But the shutouts and one-run losses continued.

There are those pointing out the McCutchen haircut parallel to the ancient Israelite Samson. There are those who wonder how and why Cutch ends up as a co-presenter at the Country Music Awards. There are those who admire his artwork. There are those who wonder why he doesn’t steal bases anymore, and what is the meaning of the cross visible on his wristband? When a star slumps like this, the microscopes are wheeled in and everyone becomes a junior neuroscientist or at least an astrobiologist.

Cutch is brutally honest at times, with a deadly smile that could be read as soothing and menacing at the same time. He is a Libra. The Scales. So maybe it is time to consult the Zodiac for McCutchen? Why not? A quick visit to www.psychicguild.com explains the Libra way. Cutch’s element is air, his planet is Venus, his stone is Opals, life’s pursuit is “to be consistent” but the Libra’s vibration is “unsteady.” The Libran’s secret desire, according to the site, is “to live an easy uncomplicated life.” And this is with the St. Louis Cardinals looming as Pittsburgh visitors this weekend.

Libra McCutchen’s advice from various astrologers online:

*AstroStyle says: “Peel off the mask and let people see the real you.” Tell that to catcher Francisco Cervelli.

*CosmicPath says:  “There is no one else out there that can ever be anything but your reflection, because you perceive the entire world with your own consciousness.” Tell that to back-up outfielder Corey Hart.

*0800Horoscope.com says: “You ideal situation is to be able to ‘go to work’ and do something you absolutely love and get ‘very nicely paid for it’—even if you would do it for free if you had to.” Tell that to former teammate Jose Tabata, now wallowing at AAA Indianapolis.

*TheDarkPixie says: “You end the week wanting to spend time on your hobbies and have fun. Let out your inner child and do what you enjoy most.” Tell that to the home crowd this weekend as the yinzer throng may be on the verge of booing the entire roster off the field.

*HuffPostWomen says: “You will do your best work in the long run by finishing on your own timetable, not someone else’s.”

In other words, it’s early. Mid-May approacheth. Pirates fans still have time to see if Jung-Ho Kang is the Korean version of Josh Harrison, or if Gerrit Cole can continue to carry the ace card. The team has been tough to watch so far, but looking around the league, many other squads are in the same boat. As long is a conspiracy forms against St. Louis, the Pirates still have a shot at this division.

It would be nice to start with some Redbird hunting this weekend.


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