Thank You, 34
On January 12 Jon Lester announced his retirement from the MLB. It’s truly a shame that we didn’t get to see him retire in either a Cubs or Red Sox uniform, but it’s still a career worth praising and celebrating. Very few people can say they helped two teams break some of the longest championship droughts in American sports. My dad loved calling him the bulldog and I absolutely love that name because that’s exactly what he was; a guy you can trust every 5 days to go a solid 6-7 innings and just go to work. And his accolades show just that as has an amazing 3 championships, two with Boston and one with Chicago, three top-5 Cy Young award finishes, a career 200-117 record and 3.66 ERA.
First, let’s talk about Lester’s time in Boston. In the 9 years he spent with the Red Sox, Lester put up a 3.64 ERA, 1519.1 innings, 1.287 WHIP, 3.60 FIP and obviously, 2 world series championships. What’s even crazier is that his stats with the Cubs are nearly identical, and he signed with them when he was 31. There are only a handful of pitchers who can keep up the same consistent numbers as they get older. In the 6 years he spent in Chicago, Lester put up a 3.64 ERA, 1002.2 innings, 3.86 FIP, 1.248 WHIP, and helped break, what was then, the longest championship drought in American sports and becoming the greatest free agent signing in Chicago Cubs history! At least until Correa signs and brings another chip to the North Side.
Now it’s no debate that Lester is a first ballot hall of famer, but the question is what hat is he wearing when he gets inducted. Now while this is a Cubs blog and my love for them is greater than anything in this world (I really hope my girlfriend doesn’t see that) I can’t help but think he goes in as anything other than a member of the Boston Red Sox. That’s no disrespect to his time in Chicago, he was the greatest free agent signing I’ve ever seen and the first true ace that delivered on a championship. He was crucial in the years he was here and played a big part in game 7 and will never have to pay for another beer in Chicago. But not only did he break a curse in Boston, he delivered twice and really showed no signs of slowing down when he was dealt to Oakland. Lester was truly dominant for all 9 years in Boston, while in Chicago, he started showing signs of decline in the last 2 years of the deal. And his time in Washington and St. Louis was just rough all around.
Overall, Lester had an incredible career and I wish him nothing but the best in retirement. I truly hope I can buy him a beer in the future. Thank you for delivering a championship to the North Side. Thank you for being the greatest free agent signing in Cubs history. Thank you, 34.
-Tony Anaya (Twitter: @anayaL8TR)