Jon Lester became the latest Chicago Cubs pitcher to be the victim of a weird rant about his behavior on the field when Tim McCarver talked about the ace’s “mental problems” during Monday night’s game. This was the second time in the last couple of weeks that an announcer called a Cubs hurler on the carpet in what appeared to be just a grumpy old man ranting about grumpy old things.
Tim McCarver decided he wanted to take Jon Lester to task over Lester’s inability or unwillingness to throw to a base other than home plate. Jon Lester clearly does have a bit of a problem with throwing pickoffs, but what Tim McCarver and a number of other sports announcers seem to not understand is that Jon Lester is still pitching quite well despite that lack of throwing over. That didn’t stop Tim McCarver from voicing his opinion, in the middle of a shutout about Jon Lester and what the announcer believes is something that needs treatment.
In short, McCarver said that Jon Lester “has a mental problem [that] can be hid no longer.” When Tim’s partner Dan McLaughlin pointed out that some people think the team’s ace is putting too much pressure on himself because of his massive contract, it was immediately dismissed by the former St. Louis Cardinals player. “Well, you know, I think that would be a valid argument if it weren’t for the fact that, as far as throwing to first base, he didn’t do that last year, either. Not once! So it was there last year. You don’t know when it started, how it started. Some things that we report, Dan, they’re tough to report. You know, you don’t know how much psychiatric help Jon’s had trying to get through this thing. It’s not real pretty to see, I’ve got to tell you.”
This particular rant about Lester would have made sense if the pitcher was getting shelled. Instead, this was the second straight game in which he didn’t allow a run in seven innings. He even had a no-hitter through six. On the year, Jon Lester has posted an ERA of 3.48 and has an earned run average just a bit higher than that over the course of his career.
Tim McCarver could have even made this rant earlier in the year, when the ace was struggling a bit. These days, when the pitcher’s record looks bad but Jon Lester’s performance has been good, Tim McCarver’s rant just looks weird.
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