Home fun for vis­i­tor Kip­nis

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY RUSSELL DORSEY, STAFF RE­PORTER rdorsey@sun­times.com | @Russ_Dorsey1

It was a Tues­day night in Cleve­land when the Cubs won their first World Se­ries ti­tle in 108 years. The team re­turned to Cleve­land in 2018, but for Cubs se­cond base­man Ja­son Kip­nis, this trip was an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.

Kip­nis was one of the In­di­ans’ long­est-tenured play­ers, and Tues­day was the first time he re­turned as an op­pos­ing player to Pro­gres­sive Field, a place that still feels fa­mil­iar to him.

“It’s a very homey vibe here,” Kip­nis said. “When we got on from the air­port and were driv­ing in, it lit­er­ally felt like I was com­ing home, kind of like to my ac­tual home, hav­ing lived here for nine years or so, and it’s just that ev­ery­thing’s still fresh.

“The dif­fer­ence was I got to walk to the ball­park from a ho­tel, and in­stead of turn­ing right down the nor­mal door I al­ways go to, I had to go to a dif­fer­ent en­trance. So I’m ac­tu­ally be­ing steered to prob­a­bly a few hall­ways I didn’t know ex­isted . . . . I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s what this looks like in this place.’ I’ve been in the vis­it­ing club­house, but I’ve not been in the cages or the weight room or even, like, any of th­ese lit­tle hall­ways, nooks and cran­nies.”

Kip­nis’ ca­reer in Cleve­land was filled with suc­cess. He was a twotime All-Star and an in­te­gral part of the team that faced the Cubs in the 2016 World Se­ries.

While Cleve­land didn’t come out vic­to­ri­ous, Kip­nis still has fond memories of his time with the In­di­ans de­spite some play­ful rib­bing from first base­man An­thony Rizzo.

“There’s al­ways the bright-light mo­ments,” Kip­nis said. “I guess the All-Star Games, the play­off runs, Game 7 [of the 2016 World Se­ries]. It’s hard to put those into words, and there’s just al­ways bits and pieces that come back to you. I’ve al­ready had Rizzo walk­ing me through, ‘I cel­e­brated here, I cel­e­brated here.’ I’m like, ‘Thanks, buddy, I get it.’ ”

Post­sea­son bub­ble for MLB?

The suc­cess of the NBA and NHL bub­bles has started more con­ver­sa­tions about MLB cre­at­ing a bub­ble for its post­sea­son. With longer travel and two re­cent out­breaks, the bub­ble might not be the worst thing to help en­sure team safety in Oc­to­ber.

“With­out speak­ing for the league, I think it does make some sense,” Cubs gen­eral man­ager Jed Hoyer said. “There’s a lot of travel in the post­sea­son. The first round this year, you would just travel once, but once you get into the later rounds, some­times you’re trav­el­ing mul­ti­ple times a week.

‘‘And I think what we’ve learned so far is that travel is a dif­fi­cult part of this. The Mar­lins’ and Car­di­nals’ [COVID-19] out­breaks hap­pened on the road with buses, planes and ho­tel rooms and smaller club­houses and things like that. I think that’s been a chal­lenge and a chal­lenge the league is try­ing to ad­dress, but still a chal­lenge none­the­less.

‘‘So I think a bub­ble sit­u­a­tion for the play­offs could be in the best in­ter­est to make sure that you know those games are played and that the right play­ers are on the field de­cid­ing it.”


Will­son Contreras is con­grat­u­lated by Ja­son Kip­nis (27) af­ter Contreras scored in the se­cond in­ning Tues­day night against the Cleve­land In­di­ans.

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