Hamels involved in video game controversy

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The biggest hit of the holidays won’t be a Roy Halladay trade. No, it will be “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”, a new shoot-em-up video game with rockin’ graphics and a great multiplayer feature set to hit store shelves on Tuesday in PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 formats.

It’s expected to bring in half a BILLION dollars in the first week alone. So yeah, Roy could buy the Blue Jays with that kind of cash. So what does any of this have to do with baseball? Plenty, actually.

There is some controversy around the game, all of it outlined nicely below by my Msnbc.com colleague Todd Kenreck.


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Among the issues creating a stir is a viral video that was released by the game’s creator featuring none other than Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. In the video, a pixilated Hamels emerges from a humvee, dressed in military gear and a Phillies cap.

He goes on what seems like a light-hearted rant against “random grenades”, but then drops a couple of curse words as he is blown up by some of the very items he despises.

The language in itself doesn’t seem like much of a big deal unless you let young children play these games and surf the web at will, which would be your own fault.

But then the video ends with a “brought to you by” message that contains a thinly veiled homophobic slur. As Kenreck reports, the video was pulled amid concerns that it “promoted hate speech in the gaming community,” but it of course lives on at YouTube. (Watch it here, unless your ears are sensitive)

Not sure what I think about the seriousness of this. The video is light-hearted in tone, but does it go too far? One thing for sure: this isn’t the kind of publicity Hamels needs. Not after his performances in the playoffs.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Orioles have reached out to Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Orioles “like” free agent starter Yovani Gallardo and “have reached out to him” to gauge his interest in coming to Baltimore and what that might cost.

Gallardo rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Rangers earlier this month and so his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation, but that shouldn’t hurt his bottom line all that much.

The 29-year-old right-hander posted a solid 3.42 ERA in 184 1/3 innings (33 starts) this past season for Texas and he pitched well in his one ALDS start.

Heyman reported a few weeks ago that the Diamondbacks are interested, and the Cubs, Blue Jays, and Dodgers were tied to him just ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Red Sox all showing serious interest in David Price

AP Photo/Tim Donnelly

David Price has expressed a desire to return to Toronto, where he finished out the 2015 season, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes Wednesday that the Blue Jays “are not expected to be a major factor in his free agency.”

The teams that should be considered serious suitors, per Rosenthal, are the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Red Sox — all deep-pocketed teams looking to contend in 2016. Money is apparently the issue for the Blue Jays, who are currently owned by Rogers Communications.

Price registered an outstanding 2.45 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, and 225/47 K/BB ratio in 220 1/3 innings (32 starts) this past season between the Tigers and Jays, finishing second in the American League Cy Young Award race behind Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.

The 30-year-old left-hander is probably looking for a six- or seven-year contract worth more than $25 million per season. He is represented by agent Bo McKinnis.

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.