Chicago Cubs: Jon Lester is fine with changes, as long as there’s baseball

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Long considered one of the most traditional-thinking players in the game, Chicago Cubs lefty Jon Lester is suddenly more open-minded than ever.

Look. Jon Lester has been playing professional baseball for a long time and he’s here to defend it against the pace-of-play maniacs, the looming legion of robot umpires and anyone else seeking to deface this beautiful game.

At least, that’s been his stance till this point. But in the wake of COVID-19 wreaking havoc not only on the global sports landscape, but virtually all aspects of everyday life, the 36-year-old three-time World Series champion and Chicago Cubs veteran has changed his tune.

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"“If you’re talking about this season and this season only, in order for us to play, then yeah, we have to make some adjustments to things if they want to get in as many games they possibly can,” Lester said in a recent interview with ESPN 1000. “I think we have to alter some things.”"

With teams reportedly telling players to begin getting ready for a potential return to action for a second, abbreviated spring training in June, we’re all anxiously awaiting more details from MLB leadership.

We don’t know how many games they’ll try to play, where they’ll take place, what the postseason will look like and what rule changes could be instituted to expedite play and make sure we’re not seeing any 18-inning marathons this summer.

First and foremost, some sort of digital strike zone (robot umpires, if you will) could be instituted – both to speed up games and remove another human being from the equation in the age of social distancing. Double-headers could be seven innings, instead of nine and we’ve long heard about starting a runner at second base in extras – or even ending games in a tie.

"“I’ve heard talk about the robotic umpire behind home plate – hey, if we’re playing, then great. We’ll do what we need to do, make adjustments as far as this year …. I think we all have to make exceptions for us to be able to get in games this year if we want that to happen. That’s OK with me. I just want to play baseball.”"

That’s a sound response from a guy who lives to compete – and realistically, is likely looking at his last few seasons of playing in the big leagues. He recently said he’d be open to returning to Boston, where he started his career, after 2020 should the Cubs decide to part ways with him – so it seems he has no intention of riding off into the sunset this year.

Next. Safety remains top of mind for many Cubs players. dark

What’s all this mean? If Lester is open to a modified form of the game we all know and love, then I’d better not hear any complaining about any of them. Let’s all come together when (I’m saying when out of optimism) baseball returns and rally around the sport, the Cubs and everything it represents to all of us.