SI Cover: The Jon Lester factor

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester is on this week's SI Cover, with staff writer Tom Verducci explaining why Lester signed with the team and what it means for their World Series dream.
Author:
Publish date:
jon-lester-si-cover

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, haven’t been to the Fall Classic since 1945 and have failed to reach the playoffs in each of the past six seasons.

Oddsmakers tabbed the Cubs’ chances at reaching the 2015 World Series at 50-1 before free agency started. Once they signed coveted free-agent pitcher Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract, those odds lowered to 20-1. Factor in Joe Maddon, who resigned from the Tampa Bay Rays with a year left on his deal and signed on to be the Cubs' skipper days later, and Vegas puts “the lovable losers” as a 12-1 shot as World Series champions.

The Cubs have finished 5th in the National League Central for five straight years, but that didn’t matter to Lester.

“The lure of bringing the World Series to this town and this team really interested me and my family,” said Lester, who is on this week’s national cover of Sports Illustrated.

It’s clear that club president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and owner Tom Ricketts are not messing around in trying to bring a championship to the franchise. Wrigley Field is undergoing a nearly $400 million renovation and the team is loaded with young talent, including Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, who led the team in home runs, RBI and on-base percentage last season.

Lester said part of the reason he signed was because he felt comfortable with Hoyer and Epstein.

“I don’t really want to say it was a sales job, because I really believe what they believe, that this could be the next dynasty over the next six, seven, eight, nine years," he said. "I think I’m pretty good at knowing when it’s somebody you can believe or when you can see through the b.s. I felt like there was no b.s.”

For more on Lester and the Cubs, check out Tom Verducci's story in this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).

Also featured in this issue: the year in sports media, features on the San Francisco 49ers struggles, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and North Carolina forward Kennedy Meeks.

Subscribers and newsstands except in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Arizona will receive this issue.

Not in the area to buy the regional issue? Buy single issues here.

2014 Sports Illustrated Covers

52CVRv21ohio_Promo.jpg
52CVRv21oregon_Promo.jpg
52CVRv21florida_Promo.jpg
52CVRv21alabama_Promo.jpg
51COVv23cubs.jpg
51COVv2349rs.jpg
2014-Sportsman-Madison-Bumgarner_0.jpg
49COVv24-anthony-davis.jpg
49COVv12-melvin-gordon.jpg
48COVERv9.jpg
47covV15Nat.jpg
47covV14Can_Promo.jpg
46COVv14WATT_Promo.jpg
46COVv20ARI_Promo.jpg
45COVv10Duke_Promo.jpg
45COVv10Kent_Promo.jpg
45COVv9wiscon_Promo.jpg
45COVv10Texas_Promo.jpg
45COVv10arizona_Promo.jpg
45COVv14giants.jpg
WORLDSERIESCOVER.jpg
44COVv11Nat_Promo.jpg
44COVv12SEA_Promo.jpg
43COVv23nba.jpg
43COVv16royals_0.jpg
42COVv7miss.jpg
42COVv22_Promo.jpg
41COVv14Miss_Promo.jpg
41COVv12KC_Promo.jpg
40COVv21_DC.jpg
40COVv21a_STL.jpg
40COVv22_LA_Promo.jpg
39COVv23_Promo.jpg
38COVv14_Promo.jpg
37CVRv22_Promo.jpg
36COVv32luck.jpg
36COVv27pirate.jpg
35COVv26EGV_OKC_Promo.jpg
35COVv26MER_Promo.jpg
35COVv26GLG_OKC_Promo.jpg
35COVv26HRT_Promo.jpg
34CVRv12mone_Promo.jpg
34covv11kobe.jpg
34COVv12royals.jpg
33COVv8fsu_Promo.jpg
33COVv9bama_Promo.jpg
33COVv9okl_Promo.jpg
33COVv12UCLA_Promo.jpg
33COVv9osu_Promo.jpg
32COVv18Nat_Promo.jpg
31COVv24Hundley_Promo.jpg
31COVv13Mccoy_Promo.jpg
31COVv14charles.jpg
31COVv14lacey.jpg
mcilroy-30COVv17rory.jpg
brees-30COVv17brees.jpg
29COVv17_Promo.jpg
Ernie Banks
27Covnewtonv32.jpg
26COV14.jpg
140618105448-25cov-nollv20-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140618105442-25cov-kingsv14-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140618105456-25cov-spursv14-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140611131558-24covv10-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140603123917-23covv30-por-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140603123925-23covv30-usa-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140603123922-23covv30-uru-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140603123911-23covv30-arg-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140527131606-22covv22nat-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140527131613-22covv23okc-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140520115051-21covv15-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140513110302-20covv12-durant-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140513110312-20covv20-brw-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140513110307-20covv14-har-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140506162349-mike-trout-19covv14-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140506162346-jose-abreu-19covv9-har-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140430105516-johnny-manziel-18covv19promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140423105330-max-scherzer-17covv12-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140416093659-boston-strong-si-cover-single-image-cut.jpg
140408105502-15covv14-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140402105150-14covv8-nat-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140402105155-14covv8-wis-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140325125554-13covv20tanaka-single-image-cut.jpg
140325125606-13covv7molina-single-image-cut.jpg
140325125558-13covv7cano-single-image-cut.jpg
140325125610-13covv9trout-single-image-cut.jpg
140318113132-12covv24-flo-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140318113140-12covv24-syr-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140318113151-12covv24-wichst-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140318113136-12covv24-michst-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140318113126-12covv24-arz-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140318113145-12covv24-uconn-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140312105339-larry-bird-doug-mcdermott-si-covers-single-image-cut.jpg
140305105246-10covv17-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140225172015-09covv23oly-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140225172008-09covv12dale-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140225172012-09covv13can-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140219111617-08cvrparkerv22-full-single-image-cut.jpg
140219111626-08cvrwichpromo-single-image-cut.jpg
140211105502-07covv17-single-image-cut.jpg
140205170452-06covpromo-single-image-cut.jpg
140129112228-miller-cover-2-single-image-cut.jpg
140129112223-gold-cover-2-single-image-cut.jpg
140129112233-shriffin-cover-2-single-image-cut.jpg
140129112217-andego-cover-2-3-single-image-cut.jpg
140121150529-04covv19seattlesmall-single-image-cut.jpg
140121150535-04covv9broncossmall-single-image-cut.jpg
140115083538-03covv22nat-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140115083536-03covv18mer-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140115083541-03covv9okc-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140108102428-02covv11bcs-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140108102432-02covv15chargers-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140108102435-02covv17broncos-promo-single-image-cut.jpg
140108102441-02covv25coltspromo-single-image-cut.jpg