The New York Times reports that Major League Baseball is looking to get proactive in an effort to combat OhMyGodHesReally25 disease:
Major League Baseball is studying a series of initiatives, including
the fingerprinting of youths under the age of 16, as it attempts to
gain control of the age and identity problems it has encountered in
signing players in the Dominican Republic according to several people with knowledge of the situation.
Those same people said Major League Baseball also planned to establish
its own youth baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic to serve as an
alternative to the current unregulated system for young players that is
dominated by talent-finders known as buscones.
The fingerprinting seems . . . odd. I mean, what good are fingerprints if you don’t have something to check them against? The article says that baseball is “reviewing whether the fingerprinting of players, perhaps as young as 11 or 12, would be legal,” but it’s not like people down there haven’t been passing off teenagers as 12 year-olds for years. The only way you could really have confidence in a fingerprinting program is if you had prints of every boy under the age of, hell, ten years old. And once you start doing that, the whole international scouting business starts looking more like factory farming than it does talent development.
Color me similarly dubious about the MLB-run little leagues. Yes, I’ll grant that the problem of buscones may very well be legitimate, but I can’t help but think that there’s an ulterior motive at work here: bolstering baseball’s plan to impose an international draft. If such a thing comes to pass, there’s little incentive for individual teams to set up and operate training academies like they do now, and there will be a need for some other reliable talent-identification system like, say, an organized league.
This doesn’t make it a bad idea, but it does make the claim that the leagues’ purpose would be to protect the kids from buscone-exploitation something less than the full story.
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.