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Is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer?

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Is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer?

Barry Larkin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this afternoon, and six or seven years from now, Jim Thome will be, too.On Friday, Thome passed Sammy Sosa for seventh place on the all-time home run list, and on Saturday, he hit another one.His first two home runs for the Orioles give him 611, and while hes not likely to hit the 20 home runs necessary to pass Ken Griffey for sixth place, Thome still could.Hell turn 42 next month, and may not play next year. Lets take a moment to appreciate just how good Thome has been.From 1995-2008, he hit 30 or more home runs in 12 of those years.
Hes hit 40 or more homers six timesincluding five straight years from 2002-2007.Thomes biggest year was 2002 when he hit 52 for Cleveland.Hes hit 100 or more RBIs 10 times. Hes 25th on the all-time RBI list, and his next one will tie him with Cal Ripken.He has more home runs than Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson or Harmon Killebrew and more RBIs than Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks or Tony Perez.For a slugger, his lifetime batting average of .277 is good, and his on-base percentage of .402 is superb. Thome has more than 2,300 hits and 449 doubles. Hes also walked 1,740 timesseventh most in history.Most impressive is that the teams Thome plays on have won. Nine of Thomes teams have made it to the post-season: Six with Cleveland, and one each with the White Sox, Dodgers and Twins, and hes hit 17 post-season home runs, though he batted just .217 in 67 post-season games.Two of his teams, the 1995 and 1997 Indians, made it to the World Series.The only team that Thome played for that wasnt in the post-season was Philadelphia. They began a run of playoff appearances soon after he left.Thome was such a good first baseman for the Phillies that he kept Ryan Howard in the minors far longer than he should have been.His statistics are impressive, but hes been hurt by the image that he was never the best player of his time.Thome was surrounded by excellent players on the Indians: Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle and Sandy Alomar, but he was better than all of them. He never won the MVP, but his cumulative statistics are convincingn.Thome has struck out a lot. His 2,527 are second to Reggie Jacksons 2,597, but most power hitters, especially now, strike out a lot.He played in an era where a lot of his contemporaries: Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro have been tainted by steroids.Theres never been a whiff of scandal around Thome.Sosa, McGwire and Palmeiro havent come close to Hall of Fame election, and Bonds wont come up for consideration until next winter. By the time Thome is voted upon, voters feelings about steroids will become clearer. Hell also probably profit by being compared with the others.Hes also never been a dynamic, charismatic personality, someone who calls attention to himself. Instead, hes been a universally admired teammate whos been unfailingly polite to interviewers.Thome played first and third base without great distinction for most of his career, and theres no question that his career has been extended by the DH rule. Hes been almost exclusively a DH since 2006.In the first half of the season, Thome, who was back with the Phillies because Howard was still recuperating from a torn Achilles tendon, was mainly a pinch-hitter though he did play four games at first.Hall of Fame voters often ask: Was he the best player of his era? Was he the best at his position at his time?Those questions are thin. If there are multiple players who play the same position at the same time, they shouldnt be penalized as Richie Ashburn was in the 1950s. It wasnt his fault he played center field in Philadelphia concurrently with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider.Thome came to the Orioles three weeks ago, and hes played only four games in Baltimore since then. Fans havent been able to identify with him as an Oriole yet, but with lots of home games coming along in the next few weeks, Thome should become a lot more popular.This weekends home runs havent hurt.If the Orioles fall out of the race in the next few weeks, Thome may be on the move again, to an AL team that needs an occasional DH or an NL team that wants a good pinch-hitter.That would be shame because Orioles fans should get to appreciate this future Hall of Famer as long as they can.

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

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Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

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USA Today Sports

Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

Friday featured Dmitry Orlov and his jam-packed schedule with the coveted Stanley Cup.

The 27-year-old native of Russia decided to take the Cup to Novokuznetsk (located in the southwest region of Siberia) for a meet and greet with fans by the Ferris wheel at Gagarin City Park.

It should be mentioned that Orlov's day with the trophy was nearly derailed after a travel glitch that sent the Cup to Novosibirsk instead of his hometown. 

Thanks to the ultimate assist from a helicopter, the Cup arrived in style and set up one memorable entrance for the defenseman. 

Orlov released this hype video which highlights his entire day on Instagram: 

Дорогие друзья! Огромное спасибо, что разделили с нами наш праздник! Для нас это значимое и большое событие! Ещё раз приносим искренние извинения за задержку с кубком! И спасибо за понимание, мы старались сделать все максимально быстро! Спасибо за тёплый приём! Нашим родным, друзьям, тренерам, отдельная благодарность! Вы сделали наш праздник, наш день! Мы никогда не забудем этот праздник! P.S. Лена @govor_elena , тебе и твоим родным, отдельная благодарность, если бы не ваша помощь, то не известно когда бы кубок был в Новокузнецке!

A post shared by Dmitry Orlov (@orlov_09) on

Talk about a banner weekend for the Washington Capitals. The Ovechkins welcomed their new son, Sergei Aleksandrovich, into the world and Orlov pulled off yet another spectacular day with the Cup.

 

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