We did this yesterday for the American League, so now it’s the senior circuit’s turn. Your NL All-Star ballot leaders to date:
C: Yadier Molina
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Placido Polanco
SS: Jimmy Rollins
OF: Ryan Braun, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino
Yeah, Phillies fans are stuffing the ballot box. Whatever. This is what happens when you leave democracy to the people. Nothing will change in this regard until everyone comes to their senses and installs me as Benevolent Dictator.
Of course not all of these choices are bad. Pujols is Pujols (though more on him below), Chase Utley is by far the best second baseman in the league, and Jayson Werth is more than worthy to start for the NL All-Stars. But if we were going purely on early-season performance — which, as I noted yesterday is my personal preference even though I realize that reasonable people may disagree — we’d have a different setup:
- For the first time in forever you have an argument that someone besides Pujols deserves first base. His name is Joey Votto and he currently has an OPS a mere .013 behind El Hombre. No, I don’t think that will last all year or that he’s close to being as good as Pujols is, but Votto at deserves to at least have his name mentioned. Lucky that the fans don’t get to pick backups. Instead of Votto we’d get Rico Brogna or Ricky Jordan or someone.
- Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco are beyond lame picks and even the Phillies fans who wrote their names down know it. One has hardly played and the other is currently 10th at OPS in the NL at his position. How about Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman instead? If attitude bugs you, swap out Tulowitzki or Stephen Drew instead.
- There aren’t a ton of great choices at catcher in the National League. Brian McCann is having a hot and cold year, currently at cold, and the NL’s best hitting catcher — Ryan Doumit — is a defensive disaster. When in doubt go Molina? Sure, why not. Yadier is great on defense even if he’s not hitting a lick so maybe that should be recognized.
- My first impulse was to give the fans the benefit of the doubt on leaving Andre Ethier out of the top three due to his injury, but given the Polanco and Rollins picks it’s possible that they’re not even watching baseball this year, let alone discounting for lost playing time. Alfonso Soriano has apparently gone from no one realizing how bad he had gotten to no one realizing how good a season he’s having. And c’mon: don’t we have room for Jason Heyward? He’s a modern day Chris Sabo! Or am I the only one who remembers the 1988 All-Star game?
Oh well. Like I said yesterday: it’s an exhibition and not a competition. At least not anymore, so let us not get too bent out of shape about it, mmm-kay?
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.