(AP Photo / Boston.com)
Last night was one of those rare games where the outcome really didn't matter; there was a victory before it had even begun.
I've seen people battle with cancer in my own life. I'm sure we all have. There probably isn't anyone left in society who haven't been touched somehow by this godawful disease. It's a relatively common illness, and yet every story is its own.
I've seen people battle with cancer, and I've even seen a few lose the battle. But somehow, though each case is different, watching those who survive can still shine a ray of hope onto a subject that can seem dark and impossible. Thus Jon Lester has become more than a pitcher, and more even than an individual cancer survivor. He is proof. He is hope. He is a symbol of survival.
He may not want that role, and he never asked for it. Being a pitcher in Boston is aggravating enough without the onus of greater societal pressures. And yet through it all he's handled it with grace and aplomb beyond his years. He's made an incredible comeback, and despite the trade rumors that mention his name, I want him to stay in Boston, where we can see him grow after seeing him stricken. He is our prospect, our pitcher, and our survivor now--what he's been through in the past year has bonded me to him as a fan in a way I haven't been with any of his teammates. I think he should belong to us.
Luckily, he made a strong case for staying last night, returning to the Major Leagues with a six-inning, two-run win. He looks healthy, sturdy and strong--perhaps even more so than last year. He carries himself differently now, too; you can see something has solidified inside him.
"Impressed. Proud. Lot of adjectives. It was supposed to be his night. Watching those guys -- I'm sure they want to win the game -- but I think it was fitting that he won the game," was Terry Francona's statement after the game about Lester's performance.
What we felt last night--that pride--we shouldn't let that go. Jon Lester makes me proud to be a Red Sox fan. If it were up to me, that wouldn't end any time soon.
P.S. Happy Anniversary, Sox fans.
P.P.S. The much-better-connected-than-I-am Yanksfan vs. Soxfan have determined conclusively that the Josh Beckett MySpace page is a fake. Apparently the site "perpetuates the myth" that Beckett is an angry person.
Um...myth? So obviously we don't know him in his personal life. But is it really so difficult to understand where someone might, you know, get that impression?
I would also like to state for the record that I never assumed the page was real, as it appears some people have that impression. My statement when I first uncovered it was:
I figure it's one of two things: it's really him, which would just...just read the page, and you'll know what I mean. Or it's not really him, which means that there's another baseball fan somewhere out there that I really, really need to meet.
I still stand by that statement. I still think the page is hilarious, and I have to wonder, is it really worth billable hours for the Red Sox's legal representatives to get the page taken down, as it is reported they're doing? Let's lighten up, people. A joke's a joke. (Thanks to commenter maxwell horse for alerting me to YFSF's investigative reporting.)