Blackhawks

Why Nicklaus still believes in Tiger

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Why Nicklaus still believes in Tiger

From Comcast SportsNet Friday, September 16, 2011

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) -- Jack Nicklaus says Tiger Woods can still beat his record of 18 major championships -- provided he can stay in control of his mental game. Nicklaus said Friday that Woods can achieve the feat "if he gets the five inches between his ears squared out." "I mean Tiger has a great work ethic, he's a great competitor, the most talented kid on the planet right now," Nicklaus told The Associated Press in an interview. "He's not going to go away." Woods has 14 major titles, but has not won any tournament since revelations of infidelities in 2009 led to the collapse of his marriage and a break from the sport. This season has been partly derailed by injuries, but Nicklaus also praised the decision by U.S. captain Fred Couples to include Woods in the 12-member Presidents Cup team that will take on non-European players in Australia in November. "How could you not pick him," the 71-year-old legend said. "I mean he's Tiger Woods, he's the best player in the game. He may not be playing his best today, but he's still Tiger Woods." Nicklaus made the comments while in South Korea to attend a Champions Tour event played on a course he designed in the port city of Incheon west of Seoul. He also said it is crucial for golf to stage a successful tournament at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to help the game grow further internationally. "Golf is now an Olympic sport," Nicklaus said. "And we've got to keep it in the Olympics. We've got one shot in 2016." How successful those Olympics are for the sport is important, he said, because there will be a vote the following year to decide if it goes beyond the 2020 Games. Nicklaus expressed concern, however, about the slow progress in constructing the facilities for the event, but remained hopeful that he will be awarded the task of designing the course together with former women's great Annika Sorenstam. Golf is returning to the Olympics as a sport for the first time since 1904, with the tournament held in the seaside region of Barra. A course needs to be built by 2015 when test events begin. "I've led my game and (Sorenstam) has led the women's game and I think we both have the ability more so than anybody else to put something together that would fit what they need," he said. Others who have expressed interest in designing the course include Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman, who would team up with Lorena Ochoa. Nicklaus stressed that the Olympics will be by far the biggest sports event ever organized in Brazil, and that officials must realize they're facing a tough deadline to get things done. "You've got to get ready for it, prepare for it. And to get people to understand the sense of urgency is very difficult," he said. "And the sense of urgency needs to be there, otherwise the success of an event is in jeopardy." Nicklaus' many course designs around the world are part of his way to leave a legacy in the game that goes beyond his playing days. Now he's trying to add to that by giving more young people a way into the sport in a time when many families are struggling economically and lots of kids turn to cheaper and more accessible options. He cited football and basketball as examples, where children play with modified equipment and rules, such as smaller balls and lower baskets, to make things easier. "Kids have got to have some success, they have success early in these other sports, but they don't get this success early in golf," he said. "In golf, it's a hard golf ball, the same golf ball that the pro is playing and a hard golf club," Nicklaus said. He added that he is working on developing equipment to help make it easier for young people to play in public parks. "One of the things I'm working on very hard right now is trying to figure out how can we leave a legacy" so that people want to play the game, he said.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

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AP

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Ben Zobrist knows reality of Cubs' crowded lineup: 'There are going to be good players that have to sit on the bench'

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USA TODAY

Ben Zobrist knows reality of Cubs' crowded lineup: 'There are going to be good players that have to sit on the bench'

MESA, Ariz. — Ben Zobrist has long been known for his versatility on the field. But it might take a new kind of versatility to get through what’s facing him for the 2018 season, being versatile when it comes to simply being on the field.

Zobrist was among several notable Cubs hitters who had a rough go of things at the plate in the follow-up campaign to 2016’s World Series run. He dealt with injuries, including a particularly bothersome one to his wrist, and finished with a career-worst .232/.318/.375 slash line.

And so, with younger guys like Javy Baez, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. forcing their way into Joe Maddon’s lineup, it’s a perfectly valid question to ask: Has the 36-year-old Zobrist — just 15 months removed from being named the World Series MVP — been relegated to part-time status for this championship-contending club?

Obviously that remains to be seen. Joe Maddon has a way of mixing and matching players so often that it makes it seem like this team has at least 12 different “starting” position players. But Zobrist, ever the picture of versatility, seems ready for whatever is coming his way.

“I’m prepared for that, if that’s what it comes to. I told him, whatever they need me to do,” Zobrist said Sunday, asked if he’d be OK with being in a platoon situation. “You’ll see me at some different positions. As far as at-bats, though, I’ve got to be healthy. That was the biggest thing last year that kept me from getting at-bats and being productive. So if I can be healthy, I think I can play the way that I’m capable of, and the discussion then at that point will be, ‘How much can you play before we push you too far?’

“We’ve got a lot of great players, and there are going to be good players that have to sit on the bench on our team at times. But no one ever rusts because you know how Joe uses everybody. You’re still going to play. Even if you don’t start, you’re probably going to play later in the game. It’s just part of the National League and the way Joe Maddon manages.”

It’s no secret, of course, that when Zobrist is on, he’s the kind of player you want in the lineup as much as possible. It was just two seasons ago that he posted a .386 on-base percentage, banged out 31 doubles, smacked 18 home runs and was a starter for the team that won the World Series.

But he also admitted that last year’s injury fights were extremely tough: “Last year was one of the most difficult seasons I’ve ever had as a player.” Zobrist said that while he’s feeling good and ready to go in 2018, with his recent physical ailments and his advancing age, he’s in a different stage in his career.

“At this point in my career, I’m not going to play 158 games or whatever. I’m going to have to manage and figure out how to play great for 130,” he said. “And I think that would be a good thing to shoot for, if I was healthy, is playing 130 games of nine innings would be great. And then you’re talking about postseason, too, when you add the games on top of that, and well, you need to play for the team in the postseason, you’ve got to be ready for that, too.

“From my standpoint, from their standpoint, it’s about managing, managing my performance and my physical body and making sure I can do all that at the highest level, keep it at the highest level I can.”

Maddon’s managerial style means that Zobrist, even if he’s not technically a part of the everyday starting eight, will still get the opportunity to hit on a regular basis, get a chance to play on a regular basis. Baez figures to be locked in as the team’s No. 1 second baseman, but he’ll need days off. Maddon mentioned Sunday that Zobrist, along with Happ, have been practicing at first base in an effort to be able to spell Anthony Rizzo. It’s the crowded outfield where Zobrist could potentially see the most time. He’ll be a piece of that tricky daily puzzle along with Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and the aforementioned Almora and Happ.

Unsurprisingly, in the end that versatility, combined with how Zobrist has recovered physically and whether he can get back to how he’s produced in the past, will determine how much he will play, according to the guy writing out the lineups.

“I think he’s going to dictate that to us based on how he feels,” Maddon said. “Listen, you’re always better off when Ben Zobrist is in your lineup. He’s a little bit older than he had been, obviously, like we all are. I’ve got to be mindful of that, but he’s in great shape. Let’s just see what it looks like. Go out there and play, and we’ll try to figure it out as the season begins to unwind because who knows, he might have an epiphany and turn back the clock a little bit, he looks that good. I want to keep an open mind.

“I want to make sure that he understands we’re going to need him to play a variety of different positions. He’s ready to do it, he’s eager, he’s really ready. He was not pleased with his year last year, took time to reflect upon it and now he’s really been refreshed. So I think you’re going to see the best form of Ben Zobrist right now.”

Two years ago, Zobrist played a big enough role to go to the All-Star Game and get named the MVP of the World Series. In the present, that role might be much, much smaller. But Zobrist said he’s OK with anything, admitting it’s about the number of rings on the fingers and not the number of days in the starting lineup.

“I’m 36 as a player, so I’m just trying to win championships at this point. It’s not really about what I’m trying to accomplish as an individual,” Zobrist said. “Everybody wants to have great seasons, but I’ve told (Maddon), ‘Wherever you need me, I’m ready.’ Just going to prepare to fill the spots that need to be filled and be a great complement to what’s going on.”