“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You can quote
me on that.”
— Joe Saunders of the Los Angeles Angels on teammate Jered Weaver not making the All-Star team.
I want to get worked up over the snubs — especially the Omar Infante inclusion and Joey Votto exclusion — but I really can’t. It’d be one thing if what happened this year was some freak occurrence, but it’s not. Snubs and oddball inclusions happen every single year. Maybe not as odd as Infante, but this stuff always goes down.
Managers pick their guys to keep team harmony intact (e.g. Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez’s selections). Guys get picked because baseball has decided that the All-Star game is like Little League and every team needs a participant. There are approximately 125 pitchers on each team. The rules don’t allow for a natural roster construction, so we can’t really expect to have a natural or even a logical roster. Someone is going to get left out. Probably lots of someones. It’s the nature of the beast.
And ultimately, you have to wonder how much it matters. Sure, I feel bad for youngish guys like Votto and Weaver who get boned out of a fun time and the experience, but I always wonder if older snubs like Kevin Youkilis and Dan Uggla wouldn’t rather just avoid the ten hours in a plane and get the extra days off to hang out with their family and friends back home.
And besides, maybe we’ll get something fun out of all this craziness (and the All-Star Game is a lot of things, but rarely is it fun anymore). For example, though I won’t defend his selection for a millisecond, how cool would it be if Infante ended up being the game’s MVP or something?
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.