Monday, March 9, 2009

I'll Keep Him, Thank You Very Much

Sitting around, enjoying the nice weather yesterday and I got a text message... "Hey! Lester signed for five years!"

Really? I'm guaranteed five more years of my dearest Jon pitching for the Sox (barring a trade, which I just don't ever want to see). Sweet! Seriously, how much better can a 55 degree day get? Assorted baseball programs on my TV, sunlight streaming into the house, windows all open, and the security of knowing that we've got our guy for a good while now.

I'm as sentimental as anyone, so this contract extension really does put a genuine smile on my face. When Jon first started coming up to the big club, I instantly adored him. The biggest reason for that was because he looked like such a quiet, nice kid and because he struggled with his location. I wanted to see him succeed so badly. Most people at the time were telling me that he would never be better than a fourth or fifth starter, and he was looking to become trade bait. I wanted so badly for that not to happen, because I just liked Jon.

And then he got cancer, and he fought it, and he won during a time where my family was battling cancer and other illnesses. His victory gave me hope when I so needed hope. Listen, I know people fight and win against cancer every day, but I don't know those people. I tend to know the people who lose the war, so seeing someone win even if I didn't know him personally, it really hit me. If there was ever a little part of me that even questioned his toughness, and I'm not sure there was, that part was gone. I could never doubt him again after that, and I just couldn't bear to even think about him leaving the team.

Of course, after '07, we were hearing a lot of trade rumors... Lester and Ellsbury for Santana (or, you know, Buchholz and Ellsbury, or Buchholz and Lester, or just about any combination of our young talent for Santana). I think I held my breath that entire winter, or at least until Santana landed on the Mets. At that point, I know there were a lot more people like me... people who believed that Jon was the real deal and didn't want to see him go. Some people still didn't think he could put it all together, but he had more supporters at that point than he did doubters.

Then it happened. I bought tickets for a random game in May. They were a birthday present for my friend who doesn't get to go to Fenway often, and I just happened to be able to get tickets for the day of her birthday. I'll be honest, we weren't expecting much more than an easy victory, but I'm sure any one who has ever been at a live no-hitter can attest, victory was not easy that night. After the sixth inning, when you looked up and saw all those zeros, it was hard to sit down. Being superstitious (just a little bit), I refused to verbally acknowledge what was going on. Everyone else around us did the same thing... except that one guy sitting in front of me, but he got quickly beaten by his friends for muttering 'no hitter.' People were holding their breaths, staring with nervous eyes. Any pitch could be the one that ended it. Honestly, the only way I could describe those middle innings was that there was a buzz. That buzz made the game anything but easy. Of course, the roar in the later innings made it that much harder. I think everyone in attendance wanted this one. I wanted it for Jon, sort of as a justification that we didn't need Santana. And from that moment, everyone could see that he finally put it all together, and was ready to be the rock for the staff.

Think about it though... if you were one of those people who weren't sure of Jon when he first came up... who would you want to see on the mound RIGHT NOW from the Sox organization in a big game?

My answer is Lester. Followed closely by Beckett (he still needs to prove to me that he's healthy, which I'm sure he will once the season starts).

So we get Jon until 2014, and I just could not be happier this morning

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