Rickey Henderson officially started his quest for the Hall of Fame when Major League Baseball announced its list of 23 candidates to join the hallowed halls in Cooperstown.

Henderson is clearly a first-ballot Hall of Famer as the MLB’s all-time leader in runs and stolen bases. The two-time World Series champion – with the 1989 A’s and 1993 Blue Jays – was arguably one of the greatest lead-off hitters over his 25-year career from 1979-2003. He played for the Athletics on four different occasions as well as stints with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Padres, Angels, Mets, Mariners, Red Sox and Dodgers.

Henderson hit an MLB record 81 home runs to lead off games, stole a record 130 bases in 1982 and won the 1990 AL MVP title.

Here is a list of the other candidates:
• Harold Baines
• Jay Bell
• Bert Blyleven
• David Cone
• Andre Dawson
• Ron Gant
• Mark Grace
• Rickey Henderson
• Tommy John
• Don Mattingly
• Mark McGwire
• Jack Morris
• Dale Murphy
• Jesse Orosco
• Dave Parker
• Dan Plesac
• Tim Raines
• Jim Rice
• Lee Smith
• Alan Trammell
• Greg Vaughn
• Mo Vaughn
• Matt Williams

Besides sending in Henderson, the baseball writers should vote into the Hall of Fame Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.

Sticking with baseball, it looks like Mark Cuban is not among the initial individuals making a bid to buy the Chicago Cubs.

One other baseball note, Mike Hampton will be returning to Houston, pending a physical, which is always an issue with him even though he actually pitched  13 games last season for Atlanta.

Heading over to the NBA for one item, the Chicago Bulls finally return home on Tuesday night to play against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls knocked off Philadelphia on Sunday 103-92 to improve to 8-9. Chicago finished its November circus road trip with a 3-4 mark – their second-best record since 1998 behind a 3-3 showing in 2005-06.

“Considering the past history, 3-4 is fine. I thought we actually could’ve done better with a couple games we let slip away in the fourth quarter. … And I feel we’re improving. I thought everybody contributed [Sunday],” said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, whose team last played at home on November 15 against Indiana.

Elsewhere in the sports world:

CSKA Moscow apparantely has found a new sponsor and are being reinstated in the EuroLeague Women.

Lance Armstrong finally made it official that he will be racing in the 2009 Tour de France.

And Stephon Marbury has been told by New York Knicks management to stay away from the team.

And one absolute final note, any one looking for Christmas gifts, our good friends at Artefacture are running a holiday sale on t-shirts, check it out.

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