Former rivals Hamilton, Hinrich show great chemistry

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Former rivals Hamilton, Hinrich show great chemistry

Through the Bulls first four preseason games, theres been a mix of good, bad and ugly. One of the bright spots has been the consistently solid play of the veteran backcourt pairing of Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton.

Once former rivals in his previous Bulls stint, Hinrich frequently guarded the then-Piston Hamilton the two have shown remarkable chemistry thus far. After being plagued by injuries in recent years and questions about whether theyve lost a step, the experienced guard duo seemingly has something to prove.

For Hinrich, who was traded from Chicago to Washington and subsequently, to Atlanta in the Bulls effort to clear cap space prior to the free-agent frenzy of 2010, hes showing that hes still a starting-caliber point guard. His teammates have certainly noticed.

Just being back with him is cool because weve got such history. Hes a veteran. To have him back in Chicago is so good. The way he plays, he knows the game. Hes a real unselfish player. He gets everybody better. He has that good veteran leadership, Taj Gibson told CSNChicago.com. He seems real rejuvenated. In practice, he just goes really hard. Look at most of the preseason games; hes been a spark for us. The skys the limit for him, as long as hes healthy.

In Hamiltons case, after an injury-riddled debut campaign in the Windy City, remaining healthy is also the goal. After the early returns, albeit in exhibition games, the results of a therapist-aided offseason regimen have been obvious.

Playing against him, it was frustrating because it was like, Man, how hes getting open every time on the curl? He just never stops running and I think he wears down defenders when he runs because he can do it. A lot of people cant do it. Him and Ray Allen are real gifted at that, said Nate Robinson after Hamilton scored 23 points in last weeks home win over Milwaukee. I told Rip he can go a whole game without even dribbling the ball.

Its pretty fun to be on the other side. The grass is greener.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: Well see how that unfolds. The big thing is his health.

I think when he was on the floor, he played well, but when you miss 40 games, thats a lot, he continued. Hes put a lot of work into improving his body. Hes feeling a lot better this year, so thats a good sign and then, he has to maintain it throughout the course of the season.

Thibodeau has been cautious with his starting guards, resting Hamilton in Minnesota last Saturday and sitting Hinrich against Milwaukee because of a minor right-thumb injury. But the duo is cut from the same cloth both are efficient offensive players and if not elite defenders, pesky with a lot of big-game experience and their hard-nosed similarities appeal to the coach.

At this point, it can be gleaned that although Hamilton privately yearns for more minutes, Thibodeau is gun-shy, due to his various ailments a season ago. The opposite could be true for Hinrich, whose workload could be heavier than its been in years with Derrick Rose out to begin the season.

Regardless, with Hamiltons preseason-leading 15.3 points per game in 25 minutes a night and Hinrichs 11.3 point and six-assist averages in 27.7 minutes per contest, for the time being, the veterans are getting the job done.

Former White Sox OF Tim Raines elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame

Former White Sox OF Tim Raines elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame

On his tenth and final year on the ballot, Tim Raines finally earned enough votes to earn the title of being a baseball immortal. 

"Rock" Raines will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer after 86 percent of voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America cast ballots for the former White Sox outfielder. Raines played for the White Sox from 1991-1995, but was best known for being a star outfielder for the Montreal Expos from 1979-1990.

Raines received the second-highest vote percentage among the three players who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame July 30 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell (86.2 percent) and former Texas Rangers, Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez (76 percent) will join Raines in the class of 2017. 

Over his 23-year career, Raines put together a Hall of Fame-worthy resume in spite of being overshadowed by fellow leadoff hitter and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. Over 10,359 plate appearances (63rd all-time), Raines stole 808 bases (5th), drew 1,330 walks (38th), scored 1,571 runs (54th), hit 113 triples (118th) and had an on-base percentage of .385 (135th). His 69.1 WAR ranks 73rd in major league history and is squarely in the realm of plenty of current Hall of Famers, including Barry Larkin (70.2), Carlton Fisk (68.2), and Ryne Sandberg (67.5), among others.

Raines made seven consecutive All-Star teams from 1981-1987 and won the 1987 All-Star Game MVP. He led the National League in runs scored twice, led the National League with 38 doubles in 1984, hit a league-best .334 in 1986 and stole 70 or more bases in six consecutive seasons (including 90 in 1983).

[WHITE SOX TALK PODCAST: Going deep with 2016 first-round pick Zack Collins]

In 1993, Raines was an integral part to the White Sox American League West crown, with the then-33-year-old hitting .306 with an .880 OPS, both of which were his best marks of his post-Expos career. 

"We got a guy at the top who could steal bases," former White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura, who played with Raines from 1991-1995, recalled last summer. "He got on base and did a lot of things. A switch-hitter that could get on base and steal some bases. He was a definite impact, similar to what Rickey did with the A's and some other teams. He just immediately gave credibility at the top of the lineup.

"… When you break down his numbers with some other people, I think he ranks right up there with anybody."

Still, Raines' Hall of Fame election has hardly been a sure thing since he debuted on the 2008 ballot. His year-by-year vote percentages reveal gradual progress, then a surge in 2016:

2008: 24.3 percent
2009: 22.6 percent
2010: 30.4 percent
2011: 37.5 percent
2012: 48.7 percent
2013: 52.2 percent
2014: 46.1 percent
2015: 55.0 percent
2016: 69.8 percent

"This is probably the first year out of the nine years that I've been on the ballot that I really, really feel like I have a chance," Raines said last May. 

What began as a sort of fringy, sabermetric-oriented campaign to get Raines elected eventually received a groundswell of support from a broad voting audience. And because of it, on July 30 this summer, Raines will head to Cooperstown to take his place among the greatest players to ever play the game. 

AP Illinois girls basketball rankings: Week 8

AP Illinois girls basketball rankings: Week 8

Here are the girls prep basketball polls with rank, team, first-place votes, record, total points and previous rank.

Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Montini (12) 21-0 120 1
2. Rock Island 22-1 96 2
3. Edwardsville 20-0 94 4
4. Homewood-Flossmoor 13-2 82 3
5. Benet 18-2 67 5
6. Rockford Boylan 19-1 48 6
7. Springfield 17-2 41 7
8. Hersey 18-2 33 8
9. Geneva 14-3 22 9
10. Oswego East 19-3 21 NR

Others receiving 12 or more votes: Bradley-Bourbonnais 12, Evanston Township 11

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Chicago Marshall (7) 18-0 132 2
2. Morton (4) 19-2 123 1
3. Mattoon (1) 21-0 92 4
4. Highland (2) 16-3 87 3
5. Bethalto Civic Memorial 17-3 85 5
6. Richwoods 18-3 73 6
7. Rochester 14-3 56 8
8. Effingham 18-2 34 7
9. Normal University 16-3 32 NR
10. North Lawndale 14-3 13 10

Others receiving 12 or more votes: Litchfield 13, Peoria Central 8

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Byron (11) 19-2 127 1
2. Eureka (1) 19-2 105 2
3. Teutopolis 20-2 96 3
4. Sherrard 20-2 92 4
5. Camp Point Central 19-2 72 5
6. Kewanee 21-3 50 9
7. Hall 18-5 47 6
8. Sesser-Valier (1) 19-1 41 8
9. Hillsboro 18-4 35 7
10. Gilman Iroquois West 18-2 11 NR

Others receiving 12 or more votes: Auburn 11, Arthur-Lovington-Hammond-Atwood 9, St. Edward 8

Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lebanon (12) 19-0 135 1
2. Winchester (2) 20-0 123 3
3. Ashton-Franklin Center 18-2 97 2
4. Colfax Ridgeview 19-2 87 5
5 Mount Olive 19-2 81 6
6. Okawville 16-4 58 7
7. Danville Schlarmann 13-5 40 8
8. Calhoun 13-4 34 4
9. Princeville 21-2 29 9
10. Heyworth 20-1 26 NR

Others receiving 12 or more votes: Annawan 21, Galena 15