When the Dodgers selected Texas high school pitcher and LSU-bound quarterback recruit Zach Lee with the 28th overall pick Monday night there was immediate speculation that they did so because he’s considered unsignable.
With owner Frank McCourt going through an ugly divorce the idea is that the Dodgers could take a compensation pick for failing to sign Lee and delay the investment of first-round money until next year.
Assistant general manager and draft boss Logan White denied those claims, saying the Dodgers have every intention of making a legitimate effort to sign Lee, but yesterday LSU football coach Les Miles issued a statement saying Lee has zero intention of signing:
Zach wants to come to LSU, get a degree and play football and baseball for the Tigers. I met with Zach and his parents today, and I think that they are looking at LSU as a great opportunity both academically and athletically. Zach is an outstanding student, and he’s excited about the college experience.
Miles added that Lee has enrolled in summer school, which would certainly seem odd for someone planning to sign for millions of dollars and begin playing pro baseball soon. It’s tough to blame White and the Dodgers for not fessing up to their plans, because surely MLB would frown on such behavior being laid out publicly, but for now at least what’s going on seems pretty clear.
Lee will play football (and baseball) at LSU, the Dodgers will save a couple million bucks this year, and they’ll get the No. 29 overall pick in next June’s draft as compensation for failing to sign a guy who everyone knew wasn’t going to sign.
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.