Riley Cooper was picked by the Rangers in the 25th round of last June’s draft as an outfielder at the University of Florida, but he was also Tim Tebow’s second-favorite target as a wide receiver for the Gators and said yesterday that he plans to pursue a football career:
Football’s definitely the route I want to take. Toward the last couple of weeks of the football season, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. That’s my makeup, my mentality. I’m just a football player, not a baseball player.
While many two-sport stars have chosen baseball over football, Cooper’s decision seems like a no-brainer given that he’s projected to go in the fourth round of the NFL draft. He was set to get a $250,000 bonus from the Rangers, but last year the average fourth-round pick in the NFL got a bonus of around $450,000 as part of a package worth about $2.25 million.
Along those same lines, if I were a fourth-round pick as a baseball blogger (overdraft!) and a 25th-round pick as a male model (underdraft!) I’d probably have to give up my career of being sexy. In this case the decision is doubly easy because in addition to being a significantly higher pick in football, Cooper will be in the NFL next season whereas it would take him at least a few years to advance through the minors before joining the Rangers (and there’s a strong chance he’d never get there).
Higher pick, quicker path, and more immediate money. Good luck on Sundays.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.