Jon Lester is hoping for another Great Chicago Fire.
That’s in the figurative sense, we think, as it’s unlikely the new Cubs left-hander actually wants to see a replication of the 1871 fire that killed 300 people. No, Lester instead is referring to what could be if he can help the Cubs do what he helped the Boston Red Sox do: win the World Series.
CSN Chicago has an in-depth look at what motivated Lester to join the Cubs in the offseason. Sure, the money is nice — who could say no to $155 million guaranteed? — but Lester is also driven by the idea of bringing the North Side its first world title since 1908.
“He just kept saying: ‘They’re going to burn this city down again when we win the World Series,'” Cubs president Theo Epstein told CSN Chicago, recalling a November meeting with the then-free agent.
Epstein thinks the challenge of helping the Cubs shed the title as one of sports’ biggest laughing stocks unquestionably is one of the biggest reasons he landed in Chicago. Lester’s already accomplished a lot in his career, but winning in Chicago would bring things to an entirely different level.
“When you’re one of the best pitchers in the game, coming off the best year of your career, with perfect character, great health track record, you’re left-handed, you could go anywhere you want to go,” Epstein told CSN Chicago. “He was up for the challenge of coming here.”
That ambition, of course, carries pressure. If Lester thinks pitching for the Red Sox in October brought pressure, just imagine he takes the ball at Wrigley Field with a title on the line. He says he’s ready for that challenge.
“Whether people want to put more pressure on me or less pressure, I don’t (care). It doesn’t change me,” Lester told the website. “I’m going to prepare the same. My work ethic is always going to stay the same, so I have something to fall back on. As long as I’m prepared every five days, all the other stuff — all the pressure, all the expectations — will take care of itself.”
Thumbnail photo via John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.