All the parties to the Great Texas Rangers Clusterbang will be at a mediation starting at noon today, and there’s no telling what will come out of it. Maybe they all leave happy and ready for a judge’s rubber stamp. Maybe someone loses an ear. Could go either way, really. If fisticuffs break out I got money on Nolan Ryan coming out on top.
If there’s anything other than a hearty chorus of Kumbaya coming out of that conference room today, the Rangers are going to be auctioned to the highest bidder on July 16th. That according to Barry Shlachter of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who reports that the Rangers have agreed to the auction scenario recommended by the court appointed restructuring dude last week. The judge could still put the kibosh on it, but now that everyone seems to be on board, it will probably happen barring some kind of breakthrough at the mediation today.
And it’s really only kind of an auction in that the court has agreed to still allow Major League Baseball to have veto power over the winner. So, if Houston businessman Jim Crane wins — and he was reported to be the high bidder the last go-around — he’s probably S.O.L. because Shachter (and others) report that he remains persona non grata in MLB circles. Harder to say what happens if the Jeff Beck/Dennis Gilbert team participates again and bids high. Gilbert is a Selig favorite, but he may not even be part of the proceedings anymore. In other news, allowing baseball to hand pick their owners despite the fact that they probably don’t really have the legal right to do so is totally weak.
Final fun fact: last night Chuck Greenberg’s publicist sent out a press release telling everyone that Team Greenberg has its financing in place and its purchase money in escrow. This is likely a result of increasing chatter — which began with my report back in December — that Greenberg’s financing was shaky (I haven’t heard anything new on that recently, but Buster Olney made mention of this just the other day).
So that’s fixed, and Greenberg wants to make sure everyone knows it. Granted, I’ve never been accused of suffering from a cynicism deficit disorder, but I tend to take a press release that says “everything is great!” as a sign that everything wasn’t great before the date of the press release. Otherwise the stuff in the press release is not news, see. So congratulations Mr. Greenberg on fixing the financial problems you claimed you never had.
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.