Cubs

Jeremy Lin says first-round return is unlikely

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Jeremy Lin says first-round return is unlikely

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Knicks guard Jeremy Lin said Sunday he feels "pretty good" after knee surgery but doesn't think he could make it back for the first round of the playoffs. "I think unless something goes really well, I wouldn't get there," Lin said before the Knicks played the Chicago Bulls. Lin had surgery Monday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. The Knicks have said the expected recovery time is about six weeks. The playoffs begin April 28. The Knicks, also playing without the injured Amare Stoudemire, went into Sunday's game holding the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference. Lin won't rule out a return if the Knicks can advance in the postseason. "It depends on how far and how long it goes," Lin said. "But obviously I want to get to 100 percent and then come back, hopefully see what I can do. By then it'll be a different team identity, chemistry, so it gets tricky, too. Yeah, I'm doing everything, we're doing everything we can to get back as soon as possible." The point guard said he is working out on a bike and hopes to start running late next week. Lin became the Knicks' starter in February after he hardly seeing playing time. The undrafted Harvard product had a heavy workload in a compressed season, which may have contributed to his injury. "I still may have gotten hurt. That's hard to say," Lin said. "I mean, I think obviously a condensed schedule can be harder on people's bodies. I don't know if that was the exact cause. I don't know if I would have still gotten hurt if it was a normal season. That's kind of hard to guess." Lin said doctors found no more damage during the surgery, which he called minor. But he also said there's no indication he's ahead of schedule, only that everything is normal so far. Lin said he's already begun talking with trainers he works out with in the offseason about strengthening his legs, but hopes to play before then. He said the Knicks' success without him has helped him cope with the injury that cut short his breakthrough season. "Emotionally, yeah, it helps," he said. "What they did in Orlando (a victory Thursday) was awesome. I think that always helps, when things are going well and the vibe of the team is positive and energetic."

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.