Cubs

Should Sammy Sosa be in the Hall of Fame?

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Should Sammy Sosa be in the Hall of Fame?

Should Sammy Sosa be in the Hall of Fame?

You could make a case that this is the most important question facing Cubs fans today, a modern-day equivalent of Shakespeare's "To be or not to be."

I'm totally serious.

What other player impacted the North Side like Sosa? Even when he left, his exit was as controversial as any Cubs player's ever, including Carlos Zambrano's one-way ticket out of town last winter.

Yes, there are some Cubs fans that are done with the Sosa era, that want to keep the past in the past. And you can't blame them. But no matter what they want, Sosa's name is on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, and there may come a day where he gets voted in.

After the 1994-95 MLB strike, Sosa and Mark McGwire brought worldwide interest back to the game with their thrilling home run chase in 1998. Yeah, there are questions regarding their use of performance-enhancing drugs during that time, but the numbers still stand. Go to BaseballReference.com and there are no asterisks next to Sosa's 66 homers in '98 or 64 dingers in 2001.

It happened. Regardless of how people -- mainly, Cubs fans -- think and feel about it today. Sosa hit 545 home runs in a Cubs uniform, more than any other player. (He also struck out almost 600 times more than any other Cub, but hey, that was Slammin' Sammy.)

For 13 years, some of the loudest cheers heard at Wrigley Field came when Sosa streaked along the right-field wall, waving to the crowd. His home-run hop and two-finger salute became Chicago and national icons. Kids imitated them at sandlot fields across the country.

But that was long ago. Baseball fans remember the steroid suspicions and the corked bat. Cubs fans remember the injuries (like that time he hurt his back sneezing) and the attitude. Everybody remembers his most famous quote -- "Baseball has been very, very good to me." And, anybody who has ever seen a recent photo of Sosa will never forget his Michael Jackson-esque makeover.

From strictly a statistical standpoint, Sosa is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There's no question. But in this day and age, in the post-steroid era, numbers are not the only thing that matters. There will always be a black cloud hovering over Sosa's head.

So I ask you, baseball fans, should Sosa be in the Hall of Fame?

Check out the complete 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, which features a slew of other controversial names.

NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon

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NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon

15-straight hours of “Classic” Cubs and White Sox full game replays from the 2017 season gets underway at 9:00 AM CT

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (November 21, 2017) -- NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, will provide its viewers with a special 15-hour Thanksgiving Day marathon featuring four, thrilling “Classic” games from this past Cubs & White Sox season beginning this Thursday, November 23 at 9:00 AM CT. 

NBC Sports Chicago will also live stream this Classic games marathon to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app.  NOTE: MLB game replays will only be made available to those viewers within NBC Sports Chicago’s regular MLB viewing territory.

Note NBC Sports Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Cubs & White Sox “Classics” game marathon line-up below (all times Central Time):

THANKSGIVING DAY - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23

9:00 AM“White Sox Classics: White Sox vs. Houston (from August 10) – The future most certainly looked bright on the southside in this match-up as the White Sox defeated the eventual World Series champs, thanks in part to some 9th/extra-inning heroics from team’s highly-touted future cornerstone, Yoan Moncada.

12:30 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at Milwaukee (from September 21) – In one of their most exciting victories of the season, the Cubs were down 3-2 in the top of the ninth (not to mention being down to their last strike), but second baseman Javy Baez came through with a clutch RBI single to force extra innings, which was then followed by reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant crushing the Brew Crew’s hopes for division contention with a two-run blast in the 10th.

4:30 PM“White Sox Classics: White Sox at Detroit (from September 14) – The bats were indeed alive as the White Sox belted out 25 hits (a White Sox personal best total since 1981) featuring some impressive firepower courtesy of its top three stars: Avisail Garcia (5-5, HR, 7 RBI), Yoan Moncada (4-5, HR), and Jose Abreu (4-5, 2 RBI).

8:00 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at St. Louis (from September 27) – The Cubs clinched their second-straight NL Central Division title with all five of their runs coming in the 7th inning, which included shortstop Addison Russell’s GW three-run shot.  NOTE: Immediately following this “Cubs Classics” game (approx. 10:55 PM), fans can look forward to a replay of “Cubs Postgame Live” that featured the team’s NL Central Division-clinching locker room celebration.

REMINDER: NBC Sports Chicago/NBCSportsChicago.com/NBC Sports app will carry live coverage of all eight Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football State Championship games this weekend (all in HD) beginning with the Class 1A title game Friday morning (Nov. 24) at 10:00 AM and all the way through to the Class 8A battle between area preps powerhouses Lincoln-Way East (13-0) vs. Loyola Academy (12-1) on Saturday night (Nov. 25) at 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Chicago+.  Fans are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com/preps for full coverage and precise channel location/live streaming details.    

Cubs officially hire Jim Hickey as pitching coach, fill other coaching vacancies

Cubs officially hire Jim Hickey as pitching coach, fill other coaching vacancies

Joe Maddon's 2018 coaching staff came into focus Tuesday, with the Cubs officially announcing three moves.

The Cubs made Jim Hickey the team's pitching coach, making official what has been assumed for a while, that Maddon's former pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays would take over for Chris Bosio on the North Side.

Additionally, Brandon Hyde was moved from his role as the team's first base coach to become Maddon's bench coach, taking over for Dave Martinez, who is the new manager of the Washington Nationals.

And the Cubs announced that Will Venable will be the new first base coach after he was recently named a special assistant to president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

Hickey, a Chicago native, spent the past 11 seasons as the Rays' pitching coach, presiding over a litany of young arms during and after Maddon's tenure as the manager there, including James Shields, Matt Garza, David Price, Chris Archer and Alex Cobb. Hickey was the pitching coach for a pair of World Series teams: the 2005 Houston Astros and the 2008 Rays.

Hickey's relationship with Cobb could be of particular interest this offseason, as the free-agent pitcher could be a target for the Cubs' front office.

Hyde has served as the Cubs' bench coach before, filling the role on Rick Renteria's staff in 2014. He spent the past three seasons as Maddon's first base coach, part of a staff that appeared in three straight National League Championship Series and won the 2016 World Series.

Venable spent nine seasons in the major leagues, wrapping up his playing career in 2016 after playing for the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In addition to these moves to lock in Maddon's coaching staff, the Cubs also announced the addition of Jim Benedict as a special assistant. Benedict was most recently the vice president of pitching development for the Miami Marlins and has also worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees.