CHICAGO -- One thing about coming from the Boston Red Sox to work for the Chicago Cubs is already being aware of “curses” and long championship droughts. And also being well aware of what winning -- after such a long time of losing -- can mean to an organization and city.
“I don’t think you could ever prepare yourself for that one, for the curse being broken,” new Cubs pitcher Jon Lester told the Carmen and Jurko show on ESPN 1000 on Thursday. “Just because it’s such unbelievable magnitude. I don’t think people really understand how it affects everybody. If you’re a Cubs fan, a Cubs player, whether you’re a starting pitcher in Game 7 or you’re the (Class) A ball pitcher that didn’t have a really good year, it affects every person in a different way. I don’t think you can be prepared entirely for that.”
Before 2004 the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series in 86 years and the “curse of the Bambino” was as part of the organization’s fabric as much as Fenway Park. The Cubs have a longer drought -- 106 years -- and the “curse of the Billy Goat” as part of their history, so Lester feels like he already understands some things, though he wasn’t on the 2004 Red Sox team having just been drafted in 2002. But he felt the weight of the 86 years like any other player in the organization.
“As far as the curse and all that, just kind of being part of one that was broken, some of the things I heard from guys that played on that team, you basically make your own curse,” Lester explained. “You get to that point where you’re waiting for that bad thing to happen, and if you don’t allow it to happen and continue to push forward and continue to grind ... then you don’t allow those little things to affect you as far as a curse.”
Waiting for that bad thing to happen. Truer words could not have been spoken about the Cubs. See Bartman/Gonzalez, circa 2003, for recent evidence. Lester isn’t the only former employee of the Red Sox to express an understanding of what it means to finally win a championship after so long. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer both have expressed the same understanding of that emotional tie the Cubs have with its generations of fans. The Red Sox had it as well.
So it sounds like Lester knows what he’s getting into. At least he thinks he does.
“I’ve said it before, my expectations for myself are definitely higher than what anyone else can put on me,” he said. “I have to go out there and do my job the best I can, and if we’re meant to win we’re meant to win.”