Selig to seize Rangers; creditors to force team into bankruptcy

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What was merely suggested a week ago now appears all but certain. In response to Major League Baseball’s warning that it was going to seize the Texas Rangers from Tom Hicks and invalidate the debt that held by the creditors to Hicks Sports Group, the creditors have voted to reject the deal, reports Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal.

The result of this is that when baseball makes its move — which should happen following the owners’ meeting scheduled for later this week — the creditors will sue, forcing the Rangers into bankruptcy court and potentially opening the sale up for other bidders.  It would be up to a bankruptcy judge to determine whether that comes to pass or, alternatively, if Selig is within his powers to kick the creditors to the curb.

Which seems like a lose-lose for baseball.

If the creditors prevail it quite obviously delays the sale of the team and possibly takes Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan out of the owners’ suite in favor of a higher biddder, should one emerge.  This is clearly not what Selig wanted, inasmuch as everyone seems pretty pleased with the Greenberg/Ryan team.

But say baseball wins the battle, is able to shrug the liens off the Rangers, and pays them a pittance to go away, thereby paving the way for the sale. If that happens, isn’t every bank and investment fund who ever considered lending money to a sports team going to freak out? Why on Earth would any of them give money to a sports team if they have good reason to believe that the debtor could simply refuse to pay up and then have the league come in and invalidate the debt in the first place?

Sure, there’s a lot to be said for team owners being forced to operate within their budgets and not rely on so much debt.  I’ve said plenty on the subject in the past. But I don’t think most team owners agree with me on that score, and they can’t be all too happy about the prospect of having all sources of credit dry up.

Trevor May joins eSports team Luminosity

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 04: Trevor May #65 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning at Progressive Field on August 4, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Twins 9-2.  (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
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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.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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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.