Colin Dunlap: Understand The Magnificence We Are Witnessing
We get to witness brilliance.
Not everyone in the sports world does, but fans here in Pittsburgh do, two times over.
Please, do yourself a favor. Don’t take a moment of this for granted.
Many would be lucky to have one player performing at the very tippy-top of their respective league. Here, in our fair city of steel, we have two.
Again, don’t take this time for granted. Again, people around the country should be, in many ways, jealous.
Ours is a city that could, by spring, have two players, the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen and Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, collect most valuable player honors in their sport.
At the very least, this is a city that on a near-nightly basis from the first of April when the Pirates’ season begins until that last horn sounds in the Penguins’ season, has two players, in their prime, showcasing magnificent talents.
At 27, McCutchen vehemently tossed his name this season into among the best in baseball, as his sturdiness, he played in 157 games, coupled with his flash has captivated a mass of fans beyond the reaches of Pittsburgh.
As for Crosby, at just 26, he is a player pushing full-bore into his prime, with years of magnificence behind him yet the anticipation of charmed seasons still in full view in the windshield.
If you need to be reminded, pinch yourself, say it three times out loud, you are seeing something special two times over in this town.
Don’t take a second of it for granted, Pittsburgh.
For McCutchen, he probably did enough, one would hope, over the 162 regular-season games the Pirates played to secure the first National League Most Valuable Player award for the franchise since Barry Bonds won in 1992.
To wit, McCutchen hit .317 this season, which was seventh in the NL. He was third in hits (185) and on-base percentage (.404), sixth in runs (97), slugging (.508) and OPS (.911), seventh in doubles (38) and eleventh in RBIs (84).
And that doesn’t account one bit for what he did with the glove, as he has continued to progress on defense from a 2012 campaign that saw him secure his first Gold Glove.
All this and it doesn’t hurt his case for the award , which will be announced Nov. 14, that McCutchen has been the face of a franchise that captivated a baseball nation this past season by trudging from the depths of ineffectiveness into a postseason run.
Crosby knows about being the face of a franchise. And, moreover, a league.
He also knows what it’s like to construct astonishing performances with regularity.
Indeed there is a ton of hockey remaining to be played in this 2013-2014 season, but if the early helping of the season is any indication, Crosby is performing at a level many of his peers only hope to match.
Really, though, when, or more so, if Crosby remains healthy for a season, isn’t it more expectation than anything that he wins the Hart Memorial Trophy?
In the six games the Penguins played through Wednesday, five of those wins, Crosby was first in the NHL with 12 points. He also had scored five goals, putting him in a log-jammed tie for third in the league and had amassed seven assists, enough to tie him for second in the NHL.
Crosby has, simply, been dazzling.
So too was McCutchen this past season.
Do yourself a favor if you haven’t already, take a moment to think about how lucky we are.
Lots of sports fans in this country would be more than thrilled with one athlete performing at the top of their respective game.
We have that. Two times over.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.