The Merc’s Tim Kawakami thinks he sees something:
Once Jeff Bagwell and Roberto Alomar (both born in 1968) get voted into
the Baseball Hall of Fame next January, there will be a strange
generation gap in Cooperstown . . . For multiple reasons, the players born from 1961-1967 will be
markedly unrepresented in Cooperstown for at least another year or two
and maybe more, even though this is historically when my age-peers
should be plowing into the HOF in solid waves. Hmm.
Kawakami notes that the there is only one guy in the Hall — Cal Ripken — who was born after 1960. He goes on to say that PEDs have something to do with this, suggesting that they (a) prolonged many guys’ careers, bumping their eligibility back in time; and (b) squeezed out a generation of guys by making what were once Hall-worthy statistics appear lacking. So no Will Clark, for example.
I suppose I’d consider his argument a hell of a lot more seriously if we couldn’t go way back to the year 2000 and see that back then there were only two guys — Robin Yount and George Brett — who were born after 1950. In 1990 there were four guys born after 1940: Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Jim Palmer and Catfish Hunter (and let’s be honest; Hunter probably didn’t deserve induction). I suppose you could call that a trend, but it’s not much of one.
And if I had to guess the reason for it I’d say that it has way more to do with ballplayer salaries than it does PEDs. There was a time — just before the time that guys who were born in the late 30s and early 40s were retiring — when a famous ballplayer could make more money leaving the game to open a car dealership or to pursue a job in broadcasting than he could by hanging on for an extra year or two playing. Indeed, contrary to the lazy “players don’t need to play as long these days with all of their millions” line of thinking the prospect of making many millions of dollars a year provides an incentive to keep playing. Who’d a thunk it?
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin and — if people don’t let steroid derangement syndrome cloud their judgment — Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds should all be inducted in the next few years. At that point we’ll likely be talking more about the large number of 1961-67 vintage players in the Hall of Fame, not the lack thereof.
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.