Cubs

A.J. Catches TroubleFrom a Traffic Cop

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A.J. Catches TroubleFrom a Traffic Cop

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
4:30 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
A.J. Pierzynski wasnt scheduled to catch on Wednesday vs. the Cincinnati Reds, but he caught something anyhow.

Apparently, I was going too fast on the highway trying to get here, trying to get prepared for the game, Pierzynski admitted, with his Campbell Soup Kid grin. I wasnt in a good mental state for this game. Thank God I was only DHing.

What truly bewildered the veteran catcher was that he was wearing his White Sox uniformand still took a ticket on the chin.

Ive never been pulled over in my uniform and given a ticket, he said. Full uniform, that was interesting. So I loved it when he said, Oh, you play for the White Sox? I said, How did you guess? Figure it out.

A series of pregame tweets by Guillen (A.J. Pierzynski got a ticket coming to play the Reds lol With the uniform on thats funny. Arizona police are awesome lol. Please policeman, be nice, send insurance card back to A.J. He is a good kid, he only has like 223 tickets in his life lol lol.) broke the news that his catcher had been caught speedingwhile in full uniformby an Arizona trooper.

That was the funniest, Guillen said. The way we played the last couple of days, the ticket was awesome news. We were begging the police to at least give him his insurance card back.

The catcher was in full uniform, but couldnt talk his way out of the ticket. There was initial talk in the clubhouse that the ticket issuer identified himself as a Cubs fan, but Pierzynski denied that.

I cant believe people hate A.J. like that, Guillen said, possibly not believing even his own words. Youre wearing a major-league uniform, you think youre going to get a break.

The rapscallion backstop also was coy about whether he was driving 75 mph in a 65 zone. When asked whether he thought he was speeding, he smiled and replied, I cannot comment on that. Talk to my lawyer.

Playing in the game as the designated hitter, Pierzynski went 0-for-3 with two RBI.

Free A.J.

Pierzynski noted, and Guillen confirmed, there was a collection being taken up in the dugout during the gamebut not to help out the teams controversial catcher.

They said in the dugout theyd get a collection going, Pierzynski noted, if they could get the cop to taze me.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

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USA TODAY

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

MESA, Ariz. — Tom Ricketts sure doesn’t sound like the guy who met his wife in the bleachers during the century-long tenure of the Lovable Losers.

“Everyone knows that this is a team that has the capability to win the World Series, and everyone will be disappointed if we don’t live up to that capability.”

Yeah, the Cubs have been among baseball’s best teams for three seasons now. That curse-smashing World Series win in 2016 was the high point of a three-year stretch of winning that’s seen three straight trips to the National League Championship Series and a combined 310 wins between the regular season and postseason.

But it’s still got to come as a strange sound to those who remember the Cubs as the longtime butt of so many baseball jokes. This team has one expectation, to win the World Series. The players have said it for a week leading up to Monday’s first full-squad workout. The front office said it when it introduced big-time free-agent signing Yu Darvish a week ago. And the chairman said it Monday.

“We very much expect to win,” Ricketts said. “We have the ability to win. Our division got a lot tougher, and the playoff opponents that we faced last year are likely to be there waiting for us again.

“I think at this point with this team, obviously that’s our goal. I won’t say a season’s a failure because you don’t win the World Series, but it is our goal.”

The confidence is not lacking. But more importantly, success drives expectations. And if the Cubs are going to be one of the best teams in baseball, they better keep winning, or they’ll fail to meet those expectations, expectations that can sometimes spin a little bit out of control.

During last year’s follow-up campaign to 2016’s championship run, a rocky start to the season that had the Cubs out of first place at the All-Star break was enough to make some fans feel like the sky was falling — as if one year without a World Series win would be unacceptable to a fan base that had just gone 108 without one.

After a grueling NLDS against the Washington Nationals, the Cubs looked well overmatched in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that sparked plenty of outside criticism, as well as plenty of offseason activity to upgrade the club in the midst of baseball’s never-ending arms race.

“I think people forget we’ve won more games over the last three years than any other team. We’ve won more playoff games than any other team the last three years. And we’ve been to the NLCS three years in a row,” Ricketts said. “I think fans understand that this is a team that if we stay healthy and play up to our capability can be in that position, be in the World Series. I don’t blame them. We should have high expectations, we have a great team.”

On paper, there are plenty of reasons for high expectations. Certainly the team’s stated goals don’t seem outlandish or anything but expected. The addition of Darvish to a rotation that already boasted Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana makes the Cubs’ starting staff the best in the NL, maybe the best in the game. There were additions to the bullpen, and the team’s fleet of young star position players went untouched despite fears it might be broken up to acquire pitching.

“I think this is, on paper, the strongest rotation that we’ve ever had,” Ricketts said. “I think that being able to bring in a player of (Darvish’s) caliber reminds everyone that we’re intending to win our division and go all the way.

“We’ve kept a good core of players together for several years, and this year I think our offseason moves have really set us up to be one of the best teams in baseball.

“Just coming out of our team meeting, the vibe feels a lot like two years ago. Everybody’s in a really good place. I think everyone’s really hungry and really wants to get this season off to a great start and make this a memorable year.”

There should be no surprise that the team and its players and its executives and its owners feel the way they do. The Cubs are now expected winners, even if that’s still yet to sink in for the longtime fans and observers of the team they once called the Lovable Losers.

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

The Blackhawks dealt defenseman Michael Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. Kempny had seven points in 31 games this season.

Kempny, 27, recorded 15 points in 81 career games for the Blackhawks. He tallied an assist in Saturday's 7-1 victory over the Capitals.

Kempny signed a one-year extension through the end of this season back in May.