I’ll give Royals fans a few moments to clean up the coffee they just spit all over the screen. Done? Good. Let’s continue. Here’s Royals’ pitching coach Bob McClure:
“Kyle Farnsworth is competing for a job in the rotation. We’re going to lengthen him out and see how it goes. Because what he showed me last year was the ability to back off a
little bit and not pitch with his hair on fire. And, to be a starter,
you have to be able to just kind of go pitch-by-pitch.”
I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a pitcher who has done less with more than Kyle Farnsworth. His fastball is not what it once was, but it’s still impressive. He strikes out a lot of people. While he’s no Joel Piniero, he doesn’t walk as many people as a guy with his velocity might be expected to. He’s had flashes of brilliance. At the same time his ERA is pretty high and almost every time he’s been asked to close or do something moderately more important than get one or two outs in the sixth inning or whatever, he’s failed spectacularly.
What’s his deal? I’ve never met the guy, but there’s a strong sense out there that he’s a few fries short of a happy meal in the brains department, which manifests itself in a Nuke LaLooshian tendency to throw gas when gas is not necessarily called for. That he just isn’t wired to think about stuff like “this guy sat dead red last time so I should maybe try a curveball this time.” Instead, he thinks “this guy sat dead red last time so I’ll go dead redder.”
All that said, this is probably worth trying if you’re the Royals. They paid Farnsworth too much money to come in and be a middle reliever, so rather than just leave him as a middle reliever, why not see if you can’t squeeze some extra value, or at the very least, extra innings out of him? If he beats the overwhelming odds against him and becomes a serviceable starter, fabulous. If he doesn’t? Well, it’s not like his failure would be the difference between winning the division or not.
In other words, I kind of like it.
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.