Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Back Of Jon Lester’s Rookie Card Will Literally Make You Laugh Out Loud


Cubs ace Jon Lester has built quite a professional resume during his 12-year MLB career. He’s a four-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, an NLCS MVP, and he also has thrown a no-hitter back in 2008. Unfortunately, even with all those sparkling accolades Lester has to show, most fans forget about the awards and think of one thing when they hear the name Jon Lester.

The yips.

The yips by definition is “The loss of fine motor skills in athletes. The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation usually in mature athletes with years of experience. It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy.” The yips are prevalent in all major sports and Lester’s struggles have been so well documented, I don’t think I have to re-tell a story that has been told well already.

So here’s the gist.

Sometime around 2011, Lester developed a case of the yips when it came to throwing the ball to first base. There was no real reason behind it but the numbers show you that something was going on when it came time to throw the ball to first.

Lester made 70 throws to first base in 2011, but that sunk to five in 2012 and seven in 2013. He did not attempt a single pickoff in 2014. In 2015, Lester airmailed a few balls to first base on attempted pickoffs before he just decided that it would be easier to throw his entire damn glove to first base.

Earlier this year, he finally found someway to get the ball to first base to execute a successful pickoff attempt against the Cardinals Tommy Pham.

So where am I going with all this?

The irony of Lester being such a circus throwing to first base is the fact that when he came into the league in 2006, he was actually KNOWN for his ability to pick runners off first base. Here’s a look at the back of his 2006 Bowman Chrome rookie card.

From 2006-2011, Lester was credited with 24 pickoffs, which may include cases where the runner was safe on an error and also includes pickoff caught stealing plays. From 2012 (a year after the yips set it) until now, Lester is credited with only three pickoffs. (Note: these numbers reflect successful pickoffs, not attempts.)

That’s crazy.

I, for one, don’t give a shit if he doesn’t pick anyone off base for the rest of his Cubs career especially now that the cannon-armed Willson Contreras is now his full-time catcher. As long has he keeps pumping strikes and throwing that nasty cutter, I can live with the fact a million dollar athlete can’t make a 40-foot throw to first base.

Tomorrow, Lester will have another shot at picking off a runner in 2017 as he’s set to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates for his last start before the All-Star break.


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