UPDATE: Maybe my indignation is premature: Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post quotes Valentine as saying it’s “absolutely not true” that he’d be starting the Marlins job by Monday. Was this all a misreport by Heyman, or is this an example of Bobby Valentine having way more sense about all of this than Loria? We’ll likely know more as the day goes on.
10:05 A.M.: It will surprise absolutely no one that the Marlins, as reported by Jon Heyman, have decided to hire Bobby Valentine. We knew that was happening yesterday. What is surprising, I think, is the timing of it: According to Heyman, Valentine is to start no later than Monday.
The significance of Monday? That’s when the Marlins start a three-game series with the Mets in Puerto Rico. The same Puerto Rico in which Marlins’ interim manager Edwin Rodriguez was born, raised and where he calls home. The same Puerto Rico that, according to MLB.com, is going nuts with joy over the fact that Rodriguez is their first native son to be a big league manager, even if everyone knows it’s just an interim job.
Jeff Loria, however, doesn’t seem to care. He can’t be bothered to let Rodriguez and the fans in Puerto Rico have three freakin’ days of national pride over his ascendancy to a major league managerial job. Gotta get Bobby V. in there now! Why? Who knows. Maybe Loria’s clueless and doesn’t realize how important this would be to Puerto Rico and, in all likelihood, Rodriguez. Maybe he thinks that having Valentine in uniform to manage against the Mets will somehow stick it to New York. I have no idea.
Whatever the reason, though, it’s a poor, poor move on Loria’s part. These three games aren’t going to make a huge difference in the Marlins’ season. They would, however, make a huge difference to Puerto Rico and Rodriguez if he were still at the helm.
Bobby V. has been waiting for months for a major league job, Loria. I’m sure he’d have no problem waiting a couple of days longer and take over the Marlins on Friday. Cut Puerto Rico and Rodriguez a break, would ya? Let the man manage in Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
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.