Cubs

Who defended Steve Williams' racial slur?

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Who defended Steve Williams' racial slur?

From Comcast SportsNet
SYDNEY (AP) -- Greg Norman defended caddie Steve Williams over his racial slur about Tiger Woods, and does not believe Williams is racist. "We've all made stupid comments at stupid times, unfortunately his stupid comment became global news," Norman said Monday. "I know he probably regrets saying it, but I guarantee you in that room on that night there was probably some heavier things said." Williams' disparaging comment came during a caddies' awards party Friday in Shanghai. Norman added that Williams' current employer, Adam Scott, should ignore calls to release him. Scott has said he will stand by Williams. Norman had Williams on his bag for several years in the 1980s. He replied "no, not at all," when asked if Williams was racist. Norman spoke from The Lakes, where he'll begin play in the Australian Open on Thursday. Scott said in a statement Monday he believes "there is absolutely no room for racial discrimination in any walk of life, including the game of golf." "I have discussed this matter directly with Steve and he understands and supports my view on this subject. I also accept Steve's apology, knowing that he meant no racial slur with his comments. I now consider the matter closed. I will not be making any further comment." Woods and Scott are also playing in the Australian Open, which has attracted a strong field because of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne next week. Norman disagreed with possible, but extremely unlikely, moves to pair Woods and Scott this week in Sydney for the first two rounds of the Australian Open. It was also suggested to Norman, the captain of the International side for the Presidents Cup, that he might send Scott out against Woods in the team event in Melbourne. "Of course, everybody wants to see it," Norman said. "I don't think it's the right thing to do from a promotional aspect, No. 1, because it should just be an automatic draw. I don't think there is any issue between Tiger and Adam at all." Norman said any feud between Woods and Williams needs to be sorted out. "Because of the temperature that was going on between the two of them, anything that is said or not said is going to exacerbate whatever that feeling is," Norman said. "I hope it gets resolved. Golf doesn't need it. Golf needs Tiger back playing great golf like he used to. Golf needs the cohesiveness that's always existed. "There's always been underlying currents, not everybody loves everybody and the people who dislike each other; we just have a tendency of parting our ways and not seeing each other. But to have it play out like it's played out has been a bit sad for the game." Asked if racism is a problem in golf, Norman said he's "never seen it at all." On Monday, Woods was in Melbourne, where he last won a tournament -- the Australian Masters in November 2009. Weeks later, news of his infidelities surfaced, followed by a divorce, injuries and swing changes. Woods spoke to a Melbourne radio station whose interviewers were told not to ask questions about Williams. Woods flew back to Sydney later Monday. He'll have a news conference at The Lakes on Tuesday when he's expected to respond to Williams' remarks. Woods told the Melbourne station he's seeing a gradual improvement in his game. "I've had a ruptured ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), I've had a broken leg, a torn Achilles and strained ligaments over the last five years," he said. "I've been rehabbing for so long I haven't been able to train. I'm hitting faster, more explosive, my speed's come back. I'm hitting the ball distances I know I can hit the golf ball again. It's getting fun." Woods played at the private Capital Golf Club with cricket great Shane Warne, Warne's fiancee and English actress Liz Hurley and billionaire businessman James Packer.

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.