Nearly two years ago, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
No, really, it happened right there in front of Jon Lester’s face. On a television screen, or maybe it was a laptop. Lester, then a free agent, watched a video created for him by team president Theo Epstein and his staff in which the Cubs won the mother of all championships at Wrigley Field with the strapping lefty on the hill.
Ah, the magic of post-production.
Lester inked a six-year, $155 million deal after being taken on that fanciful ride. But now the whole scenario could be about to — just imagine it, in all its nuttiness — play out in real life.
“It could,” Lester said Thursday, one day before Game 3 of the World Series against the Indians. “Especially with this organization, with the history and the past, I think that’s their big selling point.”
Who wouldn’t love to be the guy to finally get the Cubs over the top in October?
For the Lester recruiting video to come true, the Cubs have to win the series in five games. That means winning four straight over the Indians after dropping Tuesday’s opener in Cleveland. The Cubs, who are tied at 1-1 in the series, will have No. 34 on the mound in Sunday’s Game 5.
“That’s why (I) came here, you know?” Lester said. “This is it, right here, this moment.”
Do the Cubs believe they can win all three weekend games at Wrigley and end the suspense right then and there? Indeed, they do. This is a team that won a franchise-record 57 games at home during the regular season. Of course they believe it.
Kyle Hendricks — unhittable at home — is pitching in Game 3 and opposing some guy Mike Timlin. Sorry, Mike Tomlin. Sorry again, Josh Tomlin.
Then comes Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 4 — ask Clayton Kershaw how difficult it is to pitch on short rest at Wrigley. And raise your hand if you think the Indians’ Game 2 loser, Trevor Bauer, is capable of beating Lester and the Cubs in an elimination game.
Didn’t think so.
Look, we’re just saying there might not be any particular need to go back to Cleveland.
“It would be huge,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “I think it would definitely give people a lot to think about going into next year. If we finish up here, that would be awesome.”
Then again, the Indians — who themselves have been pretty awesome all year and especially in the playoffs — can hardly conceive of such a dark turn of events.
“Can I imagine (losing four straight)? No,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said.
And why is that?
“Because I don’t want to imagine it. With the guys we have, I’m sure we can bounce back. We’ve done it all season long. It’ll be a fun ride. The games will be really good games because they’ve got a good team, good fans, but we’ve got a good team too.”
And there’s another thing. Seriously, it’s a big one. Guess how many times the Indians have lost four consecutive games since Opening Day?
“On paper, no one talked about us getting here,” said veteran slugger Mike Napoli. “People didn’t think we’d get past Boston (in the divisional round). People didn’t think we’d get past Toronto (in the ALCS). We flat-out beat them.
“We haven’t lost four in a row all year. We’re able to bounce back. We’ve got a great club. We know that.”
But the Indians know not what they haven’t seen. Or something like that. Just ask the Cubs and Lester. The video evidence is powerful.
Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.