The Cubs' abrupt firing of their handpicked manager in David Ross back in November caught the entire baseball world off-guard. I was on a work trip in New York when the cryptic tweets started surfacing about Craig Counsell being close to picking a new team and stopped, mid-crosswalk, when the news broke it was the Cubs, of all teams, that landed him.
The move, which came on the heels of both Jed Hoyer and Tom Ricketts praising the job Ross did, despite the brutal September collapse, was sure to rub some folks the wrong way - and, according to Bob Nightengale, Ross' former teammate and 2016 World Series hero Jon Lester was among them.
"Talking to some people I understood. I saw Rossy over New Year’s and kind of understood their decision. But you don’t want buddies to lose their job. It sucks. It kind of stung."- Jon Lester, via USA Today
Jon Lester understands, but doesn't love the Cubs' move on David Ross
Nightengale describes Lester's passion toward the Cubs as 'waned' in the wake of Ross' firing - and, really, this shouldn't come as a shock. Ross was Lester's personal catcher at multiple points of his lengthy career, catching him more than all but two catchers, and the two remain very good friends to this day.
It wasn't just that Ross caught him - it's the success the two had together. Ross and Lester teamed up for a 2.75 regular season ERA in nearly 600 innings, by far the left-hander's best numbers with any one catcher. That sort of relationship doesn't fade away after you hang your spikes up and Lester has always been a fiercely loyal individual.
"Really, I just miss the competitiveness of it. I don’t miss the grind, the day-to-day and preparing, but I do miss the dinners, the flights, and just the [trash]-talking and all of that stuff."- Jon Lester, via USA Today
The 40-year-old Lester will be part of a national conversation in a few years when he becomes Hall of Fame-eligible, where his dominant postseason resume will be his biggest selling point to voters. With no plans of returning to a coaching staff, Lester left the door open to a special assistant role at some point in the future but, for now, it's about coaching his kids and seeing what comes to pass with Cooperstown.