MESA, Arizona -- I had the yips once. I was in the touring cast of RENT in 1997 at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago, and I had a line that went: "Look, I find some of what you teach suspect, but I'm used to relying on intellect." Well, I screwed it up one night. And for weeks afterwards, I couldn't think of the line I had already said 1,000 times. Every time the spotlight would hit me, my palms and forehead would sweat, my knees would knock and buckle, and I simply couldn't execute the line. I'd paraphrase, or mumble through the words, embarrassed. I did this for at least two weeks of shows. My yips were finally solved by a flask of whiskey stashed in my costume, but for the Cubs' Jon Lester, the solution might be more complicated.
Jon Lester, who last year signed a six-year, $155 million contract, has the yips. He has trouble fielding, throwing to first base and hitting, making him a one-tool player. That tool works pretty well, though. He pitches quite successfully, and for this we should be happy. Yet, as baseball goes, there are holes in his game, holes that other teams will take advantage of. For example, imagine the Cubs losing the World Series because Jon Lester threw a ball past the first baseman, the runner gets to third on the play, and scores the winning run.
Check your underwear, it could go down like that.
As my buddy Dan and I walked up to Jon Lester's minor league game start, the first thing we heard was a profanity coming from the general direction of Lester as we watched a Cubs first baseman chasing a ball bouncing of a chainlink fence. I pressed record.
Here's what I'm talking about.
And then this happened. (Sorry it's somewhat blurry.)
But finally, Jon Lester struck out the minor league batter. Which is what will be needed come April against Major Leaguers, because if there's a bunt or a man on, it might be a hairy situation.
Hey, Cubs fans. I'm worried too, but he's working on it. It's why he's pitching in Minor League camp and practicing. He has the support of the Cubs, and he should have the support of us fans too. When I had the yips, it took whiskey to calm my nerves and get out of it. For Jon Lester, who is performing for millions, not 1,600 like me, it'll take, I don't know, our support? Whiskey could work too, but might make him less athletic. Although, it supposedly worked for Mickey Mantle.
So, let's not talk about the money, and don't snicker at the botched throw or poorly fielded bunt. The only way we as fans can help Jon Lester is by pretending it's all fine. Pretending nothing out of the ordinary happened when he throws a ball away. Or will the silence freak him out? I don't know. But we gotta help him somehow!
My solution of whiskey might not be productive in this situation. Is whiskey ever a solution? But what should Jon Lester do to cure his yips? Have you had the yips? What did you do to cure them? Please tell your "yips" stories in the comments. I've had 'em, you've probably had 'em, and Jon...we love you...but you got the yips...let's get past this together.
Finally, Dan Nielsen (a guy who I picked up from Omaha to share driving responsibilities, who I only knew from him sending me a video of him in a chicken costume) and I couldn't help ourselves to at least drunkenly improv a song about the yips. Note before you click on the link: NSFW!
Also, check out the photos of the back fields and some pics of Jon Lester's start in the gallery.
How can Jon Lester end his Yips?
This poll is closed
Play an inning of left field
Retire and sell used cars
Something else (leave in comments)