MLBPA warning: players with criminal records could be detained entering Canada

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canadian flag.jpgBaseball and immigration: it’s not just about Arizona anymore!

The MLB Players Association sent a memo — marked urgent — to all player agents yesterday, warning those who represent non-Canadian players who have a past criminal record, that, “Under
Canadian immigration laws, individuals who are not Canadian citizens
may be detained at the border and, in certain cases may not be permitted
to enter Canada at all, if they have any sort of past criminal record.”

This has always been Canadian law, but according to the memo “Canadian authorities have stepped up enforcement of these laws, resulting in several non-Canadian players traveling to Toronto with
their teams being detained at the border because of a past criminal record.” The memo doesn’t say who was detained.

It goes on:

Even an arrest, conviction or suspended sentence many years ago for a minor crime, or a juvenile offense, can result in a border detention and investigation to determine whether a player can be permitted to enter Canada, if the appropriate entry permit has not been obtained in
advance.

Apparently there is a disclosure form which people with criminal records coming into Canada can fill out which allows entry. Which leads to what I think is the most interesting line in the memo:

Disclosure of past criminal records can have potential employment ramifications for players, so you should advise players with such issues
to contact the Players Association for advice before disclosing any past criminal record to anyone else, including their traveling secretary or
any other club official.

I’m struggling to think of a situation in which Canadian border patrol employees would be aware of a player with a record while the team is not.  Do teams do background checks?  Are there disgruntled childhood friends of players ratting out old vandalism charges to Canadian immigration officials? If a guy has been with, say, the Red Sox for six or seven years and the team doesn’t know about something in his past, how could anyone else?

Oh well, such sticky situations is why these guys have a union. And either way, I suppose it will be a lot of fun to be a traveling secretary for the next few weeks. (“Wait, you did what?  Convicted or just charged?  Man, this is gonna be a lot of paperwork . . .”)

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)
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.