By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) Late baseball means a little less sleep, but sometimes one needs a reminder that opportunities to watch excellence shouldn’t be missed when one has the chance.
So it was after seeing LeBron James dismantle the Boston Celtics with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the Cavaliers’ 117-104 win to open the Eastern Conference finals that wasn’t nearly as close as that score may show. Every opportunity to see James still near the peak of his unprecedented abilities in games that matter is a privilege at this point, and he put on an exhibition against every individual defender lined up for the next turn to stop him, like Bruce Lee vanquishing one enemy after the other in “Enter the Dragon.” It almost got that silly.
And it was that which compelled me to keep the TV on for the Angels’ Mike Trout, who rewarded the decision with his fifth home run in six games, a three-run bomb that opened up an 8-4 lead in the sixth inning. Trout’s place out west makes it less likely that he’s seen in real time by fans not in that time zone, but the 25-year-old is worth it.
Even while dealing with a tender hamstring this year, he’s putting up a line of .341/.451/.742 and leading MLB with a 228 OPS+. His historical statistical comparisons at this age — via BaseballReference.com — are Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson.
One of the best athletes in the history of team sports put every bit of his talent on display last night, and another already on that kind of trajectory was to follow.