Red Sox Nation May Relish Jon Lester’s Opening Night Woes


This review of Jon Lester‘s work is not meant to claim that any or all of his former Boston Red Sox teammates would take pleasure in seeing him lose his Opening Night debut for the Chicago Cubs. These words are not meant to suggest that the Red Sox ownership, the state of Massachusetts, or any member of Red Sox Nation should feel good about seeing their ace starting pitcher, who signed a six-year, $155 million contract to not play for Fenway Park’s faithful, get humbled in front of thousands of fans in Wrigley Field and millions watching on national television.

But, there may be a smirk on a few Red Sox fans, today.

Again, it’s not to say that Lester deserves it. The Red Sox execs made a huge blunder, if they wanted to keep him, by trading Lester to the Oakland Athletics for more assets, last season, with the promise that they would re-sign him in the off-season. It was a gamble that they lost, as the Cubs made Lester an offer that he couldn’t refuse.

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Last night, Lester did not seem his usual, dominant self on the mound, as the Cubs hosted the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that the Red Sox beat in the 2013 World Series. He often didn’t seem willing to throw to the bases, with runners aboard, looking uncomfortable that the trust between himself and the infield players was not as strong as it should. This sign of weakness allowed Cardinal runners to take chances that they would normally not do against the veteran lefty.

Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney of stated that “Lester couldn’t finish the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, perhaps still getting over that ‘dead arm’ in spring training. And this vaunted group of hitters assembled by [former Red Sox general manager] Theo Epstein’s front office (minus Kris Bryant) went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position during Sunday’s 3-0 loss.”

“’I’m sure that people are going to talk about that a little bit,’ [Cubs manager Joe] Maddon said. ‘It’s up to us to make sure that it doesn’t become a problem. Jon worked very diligently all camp regarding (the running game). I believe in Jon Lester.’”

A little bit?

Hate to break it to you, Maddon, but when you sign a player to that kind of money, knowing where he could have went back to, knowing that his former team needed an ace and chose to go elsewhere, more than a little bit of people will be talking about it. Lester gave up 8 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks, while striking out 6 Cardinals, in 4.1 innings. He didn’t even finish the fifth frame. For an ace, that was not the start he was looking for, regardless of spring training or no spring training work.

Obviously, Red Sox fans know Jon Lester. They know that he will bounce back. He has won World Series championships. He’s a three-time All-Star. He has overcome incredible odds on the field and off of the field, like cancer. Lester will not sweat this night, too much. He will need to be stretched out more and see where he’s at come his next start.

Yet, after all of the replies that he made to thank the loyal Red Sox fans for their support, through the years, and the touching speech he gave the media about how hard it was to leave Boston, and that he felt the need to tell the ownership personally that he wasn’t coming back, before the media caught wind of the decision, this moment in time gives opportunity for some jaded Red Sox fans to chuckle.

Does Lester deserve it? No. He gave the Red Sox and their fans just under nine years of his life, devoted to Boston’s historic franchise. After numerous charity work and conducting himself as a leader of the community, for so long, Lester deserved to think of his family and accept the money that would help them thrive for years to come. Any one of us would think to do the same thing, if we were in his position.

And yet, it’s hard to see some former or current Lester fans not being able to help smile, last night. Just a bit.

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