Blackhawks

Jenkins, Fingers don't see a place for Sosa in Hall of Fame

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Jenkins, Fingers don't see a place for Sosa in Hall of Fame

It was obvious Sammy Sosa wasn't going to stay hidden for long.

After receiving just 12.5 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America earlier this month, the former Cubs slugger was turned away from the Hall of Fame his first year on the ballot.

MORE: No-confidence vote for Sammy Sosa in Hall of Fame shutout

Wednesday, he was interviewed on Ustream and aired his thoughts -- which were not surprising -- for the world to hear.

It's never been a question of whether Sosa thinks he should be in the baseball Hall of Fame. He's been saying it for years.

But hardly anybody agrees with him, despite some eye-popping numbers that include 609 career home runs. He's not alone, though. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire were all denied baseball's greatest honor, as the cloud of performance-enhancing drugs hangs over that particular group of players.

"I think it's pretty obvious the playing field was not level," former Cubs catcher Jody Davis said at the Cubs Convention last weekend. "They can say they didn't use PEDs, but you can look at the numbers and there's just no way those guys got that much better in just one year.

"I don't believe they should be in. It's hard when, knowingly, those guys were doing something that had never been done before."

RELATED: Kerry Wood, Sammy Sosa and the Hall of Fame guessing game

Davis spent much of the weekend at the Fergie Jenkins Foundation table at the Convention, sitting alongside a trio of Hall of Famers in Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry and Jenkins, who felt the same way.

"I'm against them getting in," said Fingers, who was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1992. "I see records that are being set by guys that have been straight, that have done it on their own. Sportswriters want to keep the sanctity in the Hall of Fame. They don't want guys using steroids to break records. I believe that, too.

"If they're innocent, I'm all for it. If they've used, and sportswriters have proof of them being used, I don't see them getting in. That's just the way it is."

As for Sosa in particular, Fingers, Davis or Jenkins don't see him getting voted in anytime soon.

"It's hard to say," Jenkins said. "Maybe after 15, 16 years, the Veterans Committee might vote him in. I'm not sure if we'll even be around to really know.

"Unfortunately, those guys had great beginnings to their career and then the latter part of their career -- when numbers should be declining -- they kept building for those guys. And it's due to whatever they were putting in their system."

Even if Sosa never gets in the Hall of Fame, there are still ways his legacy could live on forever. The Cubs could retire his No. 21 -- something he thinks should have already happened -- or he could receive an invite to Cubs Convention, just like Davis and Jenkins have been getting for years.

RELATED: Cubs might look to repair 'awkward' relationship with Sosa

"He was an outstanding player here," Jenkins said. "People remember what he did. Hitting 60 home runs two years in a row, that's a feat Ernie Banks, Billy Williams or Ron Santo couldn't do.

"He was a strong athlete. I knew him when he was 16 years old. He had pretty good lower-body strength, but his upper body got bigger. I don't know if it was just lifting weights or how he got bigger, but he's just a strong athlete.

"He just had a grooved swing after a while. And he was just going for it most of the time. He really didn't care about strikeouts. He just wanted to put that ball out of the ballpark."

As for how fans may perceive "Slammin' Sammy" if he came back to Chicago for a Sammy Sosa Day at Wrigley Field or attended the 2014 Cubs Convention, Davis thinks he'd be welcomed with open arms by at least some of the Cubs faithful.

"Cubs fans are a unique breed," said Davis, who played with the Cubs from 1981-88. "Sammy did a lot of good things here. I don't think actual Cubs fans really care if he's in the Hall of Fame or not. They loved him and they always will."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast Tracey Myers and Jamal Mayers join Pat Boyle to discuss the teams wins over the Rangers and Penguins.  Have they figured some things out and what is the identity of this team after 20 games?

Jammer weighs in on Artem Anisimov’s big week and are there enough Hawks committed to net front presence?  They also discuss the surging play of the blue liners and did the Hawks fail to send a message to Evgeni Malkin, after he kneed Corey Crawford in the head?

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

It'd be a stretch to say that any rookie is having a better or more impactful season than Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. The Sixers are 9-7, and Simmons looks like a 10-year veteran with his decision making, athleticism and all-around feel for the game. He's the frontrunner for MVP, but there are two other rookies vying to catch Simmons and win that title. And they'll face each other tomorrow night in Los Angeles.

Lonzo Ball was the second pick in June's NBA Draft, and fellow Pac-12 freshman standout Lauri Markkanen went five picks later to the Bulls, who had traded up as part of the Jimmy Butler trade. Both players were drafted to rebuilding franchises - the Lakers still working out the kinks in the post-Kobe era, and the Bulls beginning their rebuild after dealing Butler - and were expected to make immediate impacts on their franchises.

Ball's was more pronounced, as the Lakers dealt D'Angelo Russell to the Nets on draft night to free up space at the point for their prized No. 2 pick. Markkanen's came more abruptly, as the 20-year-old was thrust into the starting lineup after Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic's fight put Mirotic in the hospital and Portis on paid leave. However they got there, both players have been impressive in their early NBA careers.

Starting with Markkanen, the Bulls knew the 7-foot stretch forward was a perfect build for the modern NBA. He set freshman 3-point and rebounding records that, since 1992, only some guy named Kevin Durant had reached. After a successful summer in Eurobasket he was set for a large role with the Bulls, and he's succeeded in just about every aspect. His 15.6 points per game are third only to Simmons and the other Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, and his 8.1 rebounds are second to Simmons. And his 2.6 made 3-pointers per game are most among rookies, and well past No. 2 on the list (Utah's Donovan Mitchell, 1.9 per game).

In fact, Markkanen would become the only rookie in NBA history to average at least 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers per game. The 2.5 3-pointers would break a rookie record currently held by Damian Lillard (2.3 per game). The closest a rookie has ever come to reaching those marks was Stephen Curry, who averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-pointers per game as a rookie. Allen Iverson also met the 4/2 threshold, but that's a far cry from Markkanen's 8/2.5 mark. Paul Pierce's rookie season saw him average 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers.

But that's not all. If he kept those averages up he would be just the fifth player EVER to accomplish those thresholds. The others are James Harden, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Antonie Walker, who naturally did it twice.

So, yeah, Markkanen is having quite a rookie year.

So, too, is Ball. While he's had some real issues with efficiency, slashing .313/.228/.462 and has committed 2.6 turnovers per game, his counting stats have been outstanding. Ball is averaging 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists, and that puts him in equally impressive company.

Simmons has reached those numbers this season, too, averaging 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists. You may have heard of the other two players, named Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

The two future Hall of Famers averaged these numbers:

Robertson: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.7 assists (missing averaging a triple-double for the season by 20 assists)

Johnson: 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists

Ball is also averaging 0.9 blocks, and no other rookie guard has ever accomplished that. It might not always look pretty for Markkanen and Ball as they feel their way out in the NBA, but just remember watching these two that they're in the midst of making history in the new era of the NBA.