McHugh debuts podcast with McCullers as guest

January 7th, 2019

HOUSTON -- He's perhaps one of the most thoughtful and well-rounded players in the Major Leagues. Astros right-hander prefers to read in his down time, will scour a city for the perfect cup of coffee, plays multiple musical instruments and can still throw a knee-bending curveball.

There's more to McHugh that fans can see from the stands, which is one of the reasons why McHugh has launched his own podcast, called "The Twelve Six," which is an ode to the break of a curveball. The veteran right-hander wants to show the human side of the game and the men who play it with thoughtful discussions about life in the big leagues and beyond.

McHugh, whose "A Day Older, A Day Wiser" blog chronicled his rise from Minor League journeyman to key member of the Astros, debuted his podcast on Sunday with a 52-minute discussion with teammate , who is one of McHugh's closest friends on the team. They talked about fashion, coffee, dogs, getting drafted and the heroes and villains of baseball, among other things.

"I had been wanting to do something a little bit like it for a while now, for a couple of years," McHugh said.

The idea for the podcast came about when McHugh started listening to NBA player JJ Redick's a couple of years ago. The format had Redick talking to primarily other basketball players and athletes and has also branched out into pop culture and other topics.

"There was this look into NBA life that you just don't get if you're not a player, if you're not in it every day," McHugh said. "I was thinking about baseball and just some of the amazing personalities that I've met over the last 10 years, decade in baseball, and how people really don't know who they are because we just don't do a great job of marketing ourselves."

McHugh, 31, said baseball players tend to be very traditional in the way they answer questions and come across on the field, but he said the game is brimming with personalities. He wanted a chance to give fans -- and perspective fans -- a chance to get to know the players on a different level.

"Guys have become their own personal brand and developed that through social media and honestly through various different avenues -- social media being the thing that's come out over the last 10, 15 years, being as important as it is and reachable as it could be," he said.

McCullers is one of the most active Astros players on social media and in the community and has built a brand among fans of being a player who enjoys fan interaction and has a passion for pets, as well has his competitiveness on the field. McCullers' Twitter followers also know he's crazy about the video game "Fortnite," admitting to McHugh on the podcast he has an addiction to the game.

"When you feel like you know somebody a little bit more, watching them on TV makes it a little bit more fun," McHugh said. "At the same time, there's another layer to it where people have misconceptions about people, and to be able to clear those up or give people another perspective and say, 'You might think this guy is like that, but listen to him talk for half an hour and then make up your mind.' Just get a different angle about it."

McHugh bought some audio recording equipment and microphones in Spring Training and recorded his podcast with McCullers in May in Arizona. He also has podcasts in the can with former teammates Charlie Morton and and current teammate . He plans to release one or two podcasts a month.

He'd love to have discussions with Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, who McHugh watched closely growing up in Atlanta, as well as Rob Friedman, who runs the Twitter account @PitchingNinja and lives in Atlanta. Among his other podcast targets? Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow, pitching coach Brent Strom and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

"I'm still getting my feet wet in terms of being the host or the emcee, but honestly it's a conversation," McHugh said. "That's my whole deal."