Szwaja's Sports Blog

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I was watching the Cubs game the other day, and Todd Walker came to the plate with two outs. The Cubs were playing the Cards at Busch, it was the top of the eighth inning, and the Cubs were losing by one. Walker got in a 0-2 hole but managed to single to center field. Joe Buck -- it was a FOX game -- said, "That's a big 2-out hit with Derrek Lee coming up behind Walker."

Three pitches later, Lee turned on a fastball and sent the pitch deep into the left field seats. Buck couldn't have scripted it any better. That's the kind of year it's been for Derrek Lee. When he got off to his fast start, all of us Cubs fans said jokingly, "Lee usually starts slow, then heats up, just imagine what he's going to do this season." Nobody expected him to do this well. Sports fans love to expect the unexpected; it's just a natural thing to do as a fan. All us Illinois fans kept the faith in that Arizona game, and the Illini pulled it out. We expected them to do the unexpected, and that's exactly what happened. Usually, that's not how it plays out, though. Normally, we keep our faith until the last whistle, strike, goal, etc. And it doesn't go our way.

Well, every Cub fan thinks the current year is the year. And I'm sure every Cub fan thought Derrek Lee could eventually be the best first baseman in the NL Central, but I'm not sure many expected that to happen. It has happened. Nothing against Albert Pujols, who has rare and gifted talents, but Derrek Lee has been just a little better. And that includes fielding and base running.

If you're a Cubs fan, don't take Derrek Lee's season for granted. Relish every chance you get to see him swing the bat, because he might never do what he's doing again. Back to the whole unexpected thing, Derrek Lee's 2005 season is so much more special because we never thought Lee would have a season like this in his career. It's not so often guys like Lee explode with years like this. Brady Anderson's 50 home runs in 1996 come to mind, but that was most likely a result of Mr. Anderson's experiment with steroids, which we can't say happened for sure, but the writing is on the wall, isn't it?

Maybe you haven't been doing the same, but I keep waiting for Derrek Lee to tail off a little bit. It really hasn't happened, unless you consider his average dipping below .370 for the first time since the ivy was drab brown. He didn't hit a home run in the Giants series. What the hell's wrong with him?

Seriously, we have to enjoy this while it lasts, because these seasons only come around once in a player's career. I'm not saying Lee will turn into Travis Lee any time in the near future. Derrek Lee very well might come back with a .325, 30 home run, 115 RBI season in 2006, but that still won't measure up to 2005. Hopefully that puts the 2005 Derrek Lee into perspective a little.

The Cubs as well have to enjoy it. I still think they can win the Wild Card, and hopefully Lee can stay on his tear, because the Cubs will need all they can get down the stretch. It would just be an awful shame if the Cubs fail to make the playoffs and Derrek Lee wins the Triple Crown.

Which brings me to the Triple Crown. I still don't think Lee's going to do it. There are too many guys hanging with him in all three categories. That's not to say that I don't think he can do it. He just needs a little luck along the way. If he doesn't do it, I just hope people never forget Derrek Lee's 2005 season, because it has been extra special.

So, please, stop reading. Go watch Derrek Lee, and if that's not possible right now, go wait in front of the TV.


Post a Comment

<< Home