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.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.

Braves acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Relief pitcher Luke Jackson #53 of the Texas Rangers  throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park on September 16, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Texas won 14-3. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.

Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.

Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.

Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.