12-year-old Matthew Beichner is from Colorado Springs, Colorado, but his dad is from New Castle, and Matthew is a huge fan of the Pirates All-Star center fielder and reigning National League MVP. Matthew is battling a form of cancer, and with the help of Make-A-Wish, the Pirates treated him to a dream day at PNC Park. It all started with lunch on the center field warning track with Andrew McCutchen. Then, Beichner got to play a game of catch with Cutch, and afterwards, the Pirates surprised him by signing him to a one-day contract. PNC Park is Beichner’s “field of dreams.”
On Monday night at PNC Park, the Pirates opened a three-game series with the Dodgers, but before the game, there was an extra-special moment for a woman who just turned 100-years-old. I asked Regene Green of Butler what was better, “turning 100 or meeting Andrew McCutchen?” She didn’t have to decide and responded, “both!” Regene turned 100 on June 5th, and her wish was to meet McCutchen, the reigning National League MVP. I asked McCutchen if he was planning to give her a little wave, and as Cutch told me “definitely,” Regene jumped back into the conversation and added, “not only that he’s gonna hit one over the fence too!” That kind of request brings on a bit of pressure, although McCutchen says, “I wouldn’t call it pressure. It’s fate.” Happy birthday Regene. Home run or no, this was one to remember, and for more than one reason.
July 20th, 2014. If you know even a little bit about history, then you know that today is the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing. What does that have to do with sports? Well nothing, except when I got to thinking about it, I realized that the first lunar landing came exactly 6 months and one week after the Steelers hired Chuck Noll. In 1969, we had no way of knowing that big things were head for both NASA and the Steelers. Six moon landings. Six Super Bowls. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
On Sunday, Germany beat Argentina to win the World Cup, which brings and end to most significant tournament for the world’s most popular sport. With that, a few words about the state of soccer in the United States. Early in the tournament, American fans were wild with excitement, and you undoubtedly heard how the popularity of soccer had grown in the U.S. We heard the same thing on the night of July 10th, 1999 when Brandi Chastain scored on a penalty kick to give the American women a World Cup win. Americans like to cheer for the U.S. more than they like to cheer for soccer. Soccer’s a great sport. I played it in high school, but many feel the same way about baseball, and golf, and hockey. But the national television ratings for those sports don’t come close to the NFL, and they never will. It shouldn’t matter if soccer ever “takes off” in the U.S. If you like the sport, and if you’re into watching the English Premiere League, or the World Cup, then enjoy it for what it is. But that should be enough. Why should you care if the masses feel the same?!
The Penguins are denying that any decision has been made on Sidney Crosby having wrist surgery. Pens General Manager Jim Rutherford released this statement:
“Sidney Crosby has been undergoing treatment on a right wrist injury that he suffered during the season. Sid is getting medical advice to determine the best path moving forward, including the possibility of arthroscopic surgery. No final decision has been made on surgery at this point. We expect to have a decision by early next week.”
Did Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby play with an injury during the playoffs? A newspaper report has Crosby facing arthroscopic surgery on his injured right wrist this week. Crosby won the NHL scoring title and the Hart Trophy as the league MVP, but Sid’s sub-par performance in the playoffs, which included just 1 goal in 13 games, had many people wondering what was wrong. Crosby was asked repeatedly during postseason if he was playing with injury, but he insisted he was healthy. According to the report, Crosby will be ready to go for next season and is not expected to miss any time. Crosby’s representatives were unavailable for comment.
The July 4th holiday is filled with food, family and fireworks, but while you were celebrating, I hope you took some time to thank the defenders of independence and freedom. My buddy Dave Nichol runs the 3rd base camera at PNC Park for Root Sports, but he’s also a veteran of the Vietnam War, and a proud alum of the “Screaming Eagles” and the 101st Airborne. Thanks Dave! I hope everyone had a happy and safe Independence Day.
Some big-time recognition for the reigning National League MVP, Andrew McCutchen. Yesterday, McCutchen was named NL Player-of-the-Month for June. It’s the third time that he’s won this award, and why not. McCutchen was on fire last month, when he batted .343 with 8 home runs, 12 doubles and 25 RBIs. He also stole 5 bases and led the NL in extra base hits. I caught up with Cutch moments after he learned of this latest honor, “I feel pretty good. I’m starting to get my extra base hits and hit the ball for some power a little bit. It’s feeling good throughout the month and I’ll try to improve and get better as we go forth in July…things heat up…when the weather heats up, I guess I start to heat up a little bit, too.”