PITTSBURGH -- This is what Andrew McCutchen had signed up for -- quite literally. The calendar flipping from August to September, electricity crackling through PNC Park, pennant fever breaking out in the city.
When McCutchen agreed to a six-year contract with the Pirates early March of last year, this is what he had in mind, this is what he wanted. A short wait on a long-term deal.
"This is why I signed to be here," McCutchen said Friday afternoon, shortly before joining the other Pirates on the field for the opener of an important three-game series against the Cardinals, who held a one-game lead over the second-place Bucs in the National League Central. "I saw something in our team. I knew we were improving -- and would continue to improve. And I didn't think it would take all six years [of the contract]. We improved every single year [I've been here] and I didn't see us going down, going in the opposite direction.
"Something I envisioned is now starting to happen, and I wanted to be a part of that, be on that team that changed the culture. I believe we've exceeded the expectations of a lot of people. We believe in what we can do, and will continue to do it."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.