Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hard to top Lester story

There's no crying in baseball.

That's what they've been saying for years.

But tell that to anyone connected with the Boston Red Sox organization Monday night. There may not have been a dry eye in the house after cancer survivor Jon Lester threw a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals.

I admit, I'm a sucker for these types of stories in sports. ESPN has made a living, especially during slow periods during the summer, of highlighting the human element in sports.

My wife thinks that all men, deep down, love the stories that pull at the heartstrings. Whether that's true or not, it was hard not to get wrapped up in the drama that unfolded at Fenway Park.

But to truly appreciate this story, a quick history is needed. On Sept. 2, 2006, the Red Sox announced Lester was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer. Lester was able to beat the cancer and returned to the field July 23, 2007.

After 12 appearances last year and a 4.57 ERA, Lester started the World Series-clinching game at Colorado, getting the win after pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

Just like in fantasy, sometimes the best trade is the one you propose but the other team doesn't take. In 2004, the Red Sox, trying to land A-Rod, offered Manny Ramirez and Lester, but the Rangers eventually took a Soriano-centered offer from the Yankees.

This past offseason, Lester was rumored to be a part of several packages for Johan Santana, who eventually was dealt to the Mets.

The Red Sox and manager Terry Francona were clearly thrilled they kept Lester on Monday. Francona's embrace with Lester afterward was particularly moving, almost like a father hugging his son. Later, Francona said it was hard to put into words what this meant.

"I've been through a lot the last couple of years. He's been like a second dad to me," said Lester, just 23. "It was just a special moment right there."

If Lester -- who lowered his ERA to 3.41 and his WHIP to 1.30 -- was somehow available on your league's wire, he was almost certainly snatched up last night, or this morning, if your league has a pulse.

He's not a top-tier pitcher, but he could finish with similar ERA/WHIP numbers, 15 wins and 160 Ks. That's not too shabby.

Just like the story that unfolded Monday night at Fenway -- one of baseball's rarest gems, not just this season, but in recent memory.

Check out the last inning. If you're man enough.


Anonymous said...

The one story that could top Lester's story would be Josh Hamilton's 2008 MVP season story.

Anonymous said...

First off even if Josh Hamilton is putting up great numbers he plays for Texas so it will be hard to win the MVP. Secondly his story wouldn't be as good because he chose to do cocaine and crack. Lester didn't choose to get cancer. This was like a Brian's song moment for most Sox fans.