OK, I’ve finally had a chance to see the video of the A.J. Pierzynski hit-by-pitch. It’s here, and as you’ll see, he was so totally not hit by the pitch. It bounced in the dirt and then hit home plate umpire Tim McClelland, but it never touched Pierzynski, who flopped like a French soccer player. A brief argument ensued, Romero was apparently distracted and the next hitter — Alexis Rios — hit a two-run homer breaking up the no-hitter.
Totally weak on Pierzynski’s part. It’s one thing to have the ump award you a base when the ball doesn’t really hit you — if it happens you put your head down and get down to first before he changes his mind — but Piersynski’s Bette Davis act, complete with the limp and the hobble down the baseline, was pretty damn weak.
But then what do you expect from Pierzynski? This is a guy who spiked Justin Morneau. This is a guy whose own manager said “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate
him a little less.” He’s not well-liked, and bush league theatrics like this are part of the reason.
Not that I’m complaining. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a big pro wrestling fan in the 1980s, and I think baseball needs more heels. Pierzynski is not a big enough star to pull that sort of thing off himself, but if someone huge like, oh, I dunno, Alex Rodriguez decided to become baseball’s version of Ric Flair I see no reason why Pierzynski couldn’t be its Tully Blanchard. Ozzie Guillen could be their J.J. Dillion. If they get a couple of guys to be Ole and Arn Anderson they could be baseball’s version of the Four Horsemen. They could start hitting baseball’s faces over the head with metal
chairs and everything.
And it’s not like he doesn’t have experience with this sort of thing.
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.