John Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Cubs discussed on Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney


If Kurt Schilling gets in this year, it really bodes well for a guy like John Lester. Not necessarily in his first year eligibility, but much later, maybe towards the end of his eligibility. You got to witness this part of his game, which I found to be fascinating because I've just seen in you have seen a lot of players. You know, an issue pops up and they and I really don't mean this as a criticism. I mean it is an observation, a flaw will develop in a player and they melt. They don't know how to deal with it. I don't remember another situation comparable to what we saw with Jon Lester in that he clearly had this issue throwing to first base the industry, other teams began to focus on that and try to take advantage of it. And man, he battled. You know, he didn't ever clean it up. He never got past that, but between he and David Ross and Joe Madden and Anthony Rizzo, they battled. I thought that was a cool part of his career. It's a great example of what you said earlier about his toughness. He attacked that sort of with this mentality that it wasn't going to beat him. Okay, if he gave up the stone base, he was going to strand him at second base. But even better than that, buster, he found ways to keep that guy at first. Listen to these stolen base totals off the top of my head. When he came over to the cubs first time in the national league of league where you're going to run a little bit more, he gave up 44 stolen bases his first season with the cubs. It went from 44 to 28 to 19 to ten, four years later. That's what he gave up on the bases by the end of his run with the cubs. He figured out a way he varied his time to home plate. You're right, David Ross, Anthony Rizzo and later Wilson Contreras certainly helped him out that in that department. And then he was able to pick off I forget the cardinal he picked off and that really set the tone because he actually did throw over there and now everybody had it on tape that he was at least willing to do it and he really attacked it with that toughness. You mentioned, one other point I want to make regarding that towards the end with the cubs especially, his skills were eroding, right? He didn't have his fastball. His cutter wasn't even as good. He remade himself. He reinvented himself several different times. Even this last year with the nationals, a 5 O 5 ERA, and then he goes over to the Cardinals and has success there winning his 200th game. Several different times, he went into that video room and found his flaws and fixed himself to go on a little bit of a run. Then he might have that he might come back down to earth, figure some things out and go on that run again. So that's where that toughness came in. He didn't let those deficiencies beat him or define him late in his career. His career comes to an end in the midst of a labor stoppage, the owners locking out the players. You know, I wonder about this for John Lester in the same way that I wondered about it when Kyle Seager announced his retirement. If we had a normal off season, right? Where there was business taking place and contenders were filling spots and everybody knew for sure when spring training was going to open when the season was going to open. I wondered when Kyle Seager retired, you know what? I wonder if he would have continued playing, maybe not as a star player at the same salary, but if he would have continued playing if it was just a regular off season and he could just go about his business and stay in the same rhythm. John Lester is the same way. I mean, we saw at the end of last season with the Cardinals. He could be an effective pitcher. Yeah, I don't think so he was breaking down last year was the first full season in like a decade. He didn't reach 30 starts. He told me in the piece that I wrote, it was just getting harder and harder between starts and certainly in the off season to prepare for the regular season. I don't disagree with your sentiment. The game is right now unhealthy off the field, labor problems, and it's a little bit unhealthy on the field. We know it needs some changes in terms of the rules and the flow and the pace. So with those two things combined, I could see how there be some players a little down in the game might call quits. And John's case, I think it was more physical than anything. And he also offered this up to me that the pandemic opened his eyes, he's home with his family. He's enjoying his kids a little bit. So maybe without the pandemic, maybe a physically, he felt a little bit better at 38 years old. You might be right. But certainly the labor strife and the issues on the field in terms of just the flow of the game and everything. It certainly contributed to some people in their sort of negative feelings towards the even the game that they love and that they get paid a lot of money for..

Coming up next