We have witnessed many unlikely events already this season — Stephen Strasburg striking out 14 in his major league debut, four no-hitters, two perfect games, one almost perfect game, the first-place San Diego Padres and the National League actually winning an All-Star Game — but I can say without hesitation that Bengie Molina’s cycle against the Red Sox on Friday night was the most improbable of them all.
Molina was already 3-for-3 with a single, a double and a go-ahead grand slam when he came up to the plate in the top of the eighth inning. That’s a great night by anybody’s standards, but Molina wasn’t done. He proceeded to crank a long drive to distant center field, not far from where he hit his grand slam in the fifth inning. After the ball ricocheted off Eric Patterson’s glove and into Fenway’s famous nook in right center field, the notoriously slow-footed Molina legged out his sixth career triple and successfully completed the first cycle by a catcher since Chad Moeller on April 27, 2004.
Even more incredible, Molina is the eighth player and the first catcher to hit a grand slam and complete the cycle in the same game. It happened.
If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend watching the video footage here.
Here’s what Molina told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com:
“This means a lot,” Molina said. “I’m not a stats guy; everybody who
knows me knows that. That’s an individual thing, but being one of the
slowest guys in the world, and being criticized for it all my career, to
be able to do something like that really makes me feel good.”
The fact that Molina was forced to leave the game immediately after the triple with a tight right quadriceps is rather appropriate. It’s like he was punished for messing with the cosmos 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.