Cubs

Blackhawks ready to meet Sharks, ex-mate Niemi

323951.jpg

Blackhawks ready to meet Sharks, ex-mate Niemi

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
Updated 2:57 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SAN JOSE, Calif. Antti Niemi said Monday he wanted to play against the Chicago Blackhawks. Now hell get his chance.

Niemi will be the San Jose starter when the Sharks host the Blackhawks here tonight. For Niemi, its not so much besting the old team as it is just getting the Sharks back on track.

Im not trying not to think about the game too much like its too special, he said following morning skate. Its another game and we need to get wins.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan talked of when Antero Nittymaki got the start against his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Nov. 6. He liked Nittymakis response, as well as the Sharks, in that 5-2 victory. He added that a solid outing tonight could be big for Niemi moving forward.

Thats the team to beat, theyre the ones with the rings on their fingers. So if he can have a solid game against a good team it can help, McLellan said. If it doesnt happen that way, hes been very resilient. The upsides much greater than the downside, and that went into the decision as well.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are ready to face their former netminder.

Im not going to tell you guys, but I think I know what Ill shoot, Patrick Kane said of his shot selection. But Kane knows facing Niemi wont be easy.

He has unbelievable lateral movement. If you move him side to side have to pick it up. Hes one of the best Ive ever seen with that. He did a lot of good things for us.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said he had dinner with Niemi on Tuesday night and joked that he tried to get into his head.

I know hes a competitive guy and always gives 100 percent out there, he said. Im sure hes going to have a good game tonight and were going to have to be on top of our game to score on him.

Briefly

Hjalmarsson said he doesnt think about what couldve been with the San Jose Sharks, who gave him a four-year, 14-million offer sheet in July.

I thought about that then, but once the season started, not really, he said.

Marty Turco will get the start tonight in net.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Jason Kipnis airs concerns over challenges players will face when MLB returns

Jason Kipnis airs concerns over challenges players will face when MLB returns

We don’t know when the 2020 MLB season will begin, only that the schedule could be tightened and shortened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baseball obviously takes a backseat to the coronavirus and flattening the curve. Whenever MLB deems it safe to return to action, the safety of fans, players and team staff members will be the upmost priority.

From purely a baseball standpoint, players will need time to ramp their training back up after a long hiatus. But even with a second quasi-spring training, players may have a hard time playing catch up, according to Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis.

In a Tuesday Instagram post, Kipnis aired some of his grievances over the challenges players will have getting back into game shape post-hiatus. 

Baseball post: First, quarantining in a cold weather city like Chicago right now ain’t exactly ideal. Every time I see anyone outside I automatically think I’m falling behind (even tho no one is doing much baseball activity right now).

I’m fortunate to have my own batting cages, if for no other reason then it gets me out of the house and keeps my body from becoming stiff as a board. My worries are that players who don’t have warm weather or access to a place to workout, are stuck without any way to 'keep up'.

Let’s say things go well and we can restart spring training. These players are expected to go from the couch to a 3 week spring and strap it on? That just screams injuries and sh**** baseball to me to be honest. Not to mention if we start back up, and someone (asymptomatic or not) tests positive. Shut it down again?

I don’t know how we’re suppose to have that many tests provided! I really do hope things get better for everyone and there’s baseball this year but these are just some of the worries creeping into my head that make me think otherwise.

Kipnis ended the post by making it clear he understands there are bigger issues to worry about right now.

View this post on Instagram

Baseball post: First, quarantining in a cold weather city like Chicago right now ain’t exactly ideal. Every time I see anyone outside I automatically think I’m falling behind (even tho no one is doing much baseball activity right now). I’m fortunate to have my own batting cages, if for no other reason then it gets me out of the house and keeps my body from becoming stiff as a board. My worries are that players who don’t have warm weather or access to a place to workout, are stuck without any way to “keep up”. Let’s say things go well and we can restart spring training. These players are expected to go from the couch to a 3 week spring and strap it on? That just screams injuries and shitty baseball to me to be honest. Not to mention if we start back up, and someone (asymptomatic or not) tests positive. Shut it down again? I don’t know how we’re suppose to have that many tests provided! I really do hope things get better for everyone and there’s baseball this year but these are just some of the worries creeping into my head that make me think otherwise. Wouldn’t mind a little Q & A in the comment section or other good points if you got them! - keep in mind, this is a baseball post! I’m completely aware there are more important things going on and health of other humans takes priority over the season! Hopefully we can still talk about other things! Just wanted to create some dialogue to kill time!

A post shared by Jason Kipnis (@jasonkipnis22) on

Those are some sound points from the Northbrook native. The issues Kipnis highlighted will be at the forefront as MLB figures out the best way for the 2020 schedule to play out, whenever that may be.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season

0331_jermaine_dye.jpg
AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season

Generally, while the temperatures take their time to rise across the American League Central, the pitchers are said to have the advantage.

So perhaps it should be no surprise that at least one hitter on the 2005 White Sox got off to a bit of a slow start before eventually being named the World Series MVP.

Jermaine Dye was one of four new starting position players for the White Sox as they turned the page from 2004 to 2005, but he was no stranger to the AL Central. Though he arrived on the South Side after three and a half seasons with the Oakland Athletics, he spent the four and a half years before that with the Kansas City Royals.

In this lineup, he didn’t need to stand out as one of the most dangerous bats in the league, though by the time the White Sox were hoisting the trophy at the end of October, that’s what he’d become. In 2006, he was even better and finished fifth in the AL MVP vote.

But things didn’t start so hot for Dye. In April, he slashed a nasty .175/.205/.313.

The game against the Detroit Tigers on April 20, our latest edition of #SoxRewind, was an outlier, with Dye besting his RBI total to that point (three) in a single evening. He drove in four runs with a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run single in the fifth inning.

The 9-1 White Sox romp was perhaps more notable for another sterling performance from Jon Garland, who tossed eight one-run innings. But it had to be a welcome reprieve for Dye, who was still settling into his new digs in the middle of the White Sox lineup.

Things obviously improved dramatically for Dye once the calendar turned to May, and he slashed an eye-popping .292/.355/.548 with 28 home runs in the other five months of the regular season. He hit .311/.415/.444 during the postseason. Come 2006, he slashed .315/.385/.622 with a career-high 44 home runs and 120 RBIs.

It’s safe to say Dye found his footing.

But for White Sox fans getting their first exposure to Dye in the home dugout, as opposed to him suiting up for the division-rival Royals, a big night like the one he had April 20 was more an exception than the rule in that early stage. Even if it was a sign of what was to come.

What else?

— Base-running gaffes hardly matter when your team wins by eight runs, but Dye made a pair of them in this game, twice getting caught in a rundown between first and second. He was picked off of first base to end the third inning. And after singling in a pair of runs in the fifth, he was again trapped between first and second, caught, thankfully for the White Sox, after those two runs had crossed home plate.

— As mentioned, Garland was again fantastic, following up his seven innings of two-run ball against the Seattle Mariners by holding these Tigers to just one run in eight innings. He ended up going at least eight innings seven times in 2005, including a trio of complete-game shutouts. The White Sox won the World Series because of their starting pitching, and nights like this one showed just how dominant it was.

— Joe Crede joined Dye in having a big night, driving in three runs of his own and extending his hit streak to 11 games. Crede homered in the sixth inning, capitalizing when gifted an extra swing by Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen. Guillen tracked a pop up into foul territory but completely whiffed on the attempt. “Make him pay, Joe,” Hawk Harrelson said. That’s exactly what happened. Crede hit the next pitch for a three-run homer.

— Speaking of The Hawkeroo, he took the viewers on an emotional roller-coaster ride in the fifth inning. With one out and Tadahito Iguchi on first base, Paul Konerko drove a ball to deep right field, not far out of the reach of the right fielder. Hawk cheered the thing on the whole time, but his mood changed when the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. “Get down! Get down! Get down! It will! Dagummit!” Did I mention the White Sox were up three at the time?

— Scott Podsednik, another one of those new position players, kept making his presence felt by making things happen at the top of the order. He scored the game’s first run after stealing third base and coming home on a wild pitch. Sure, he would have scored anyway on Dye’s ensuing home run. But seeing how much difference that elite speed element made on a nightly basis makes you long for more of it in today’s game.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Wednesday, when you can catch the April 23, 2005, game against the Royals, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Some phenomenal work by the White Sox bullpen and extra-inning heroics from Aaron Rowand.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.