Because they can’t help themselves, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with Jeff Francoeur yesterday. Mostly chitchat, but this question about Francoeur’s hopes and dreams for next season stood out:
Q. A part-time role isn’t what you’re after, is it?
A. No, I want to play every day, and the Rangers know that. That’s why I said they’ll have decisions to make. If not, hopefully I’ll go somewhere else. I definitely want to go back, but that stuff will play itself out in the next couple months.
Look, I know everyone wants to play every day, but Francoeur has to appreciate that there are very, very few teams that want to do that with him given his limitations, to put it mildly, against righties. And, no, I will not accept a response that says “hey, he’s just being competitive: there’s nothing wrong with that!” Why? Because he’s going to be a free agent as soon as the Rangers non-tender him, and any team who may be interested in him in a platoon or backup role is going to be scared away if they think he’s going to sulk if he’s not a full-timer. Which he will, because he’s done it before.
If Jeff Francoeur truly wants to play every day, here’s what he needs to do: shut up about wanting to play every day, make noises about being flexible, about being a team player and about wanting to go wherever he can contribute. That way he doesn’t scare off the 25-28 teams in major league baseball that are smart enough not to name him their everyday right fielder. Then, once he’s under contract, Francoeur can work his tail off to improve and impress — rather than just tell the AJC that he’s going to, like he does every spring — and make his new team think twice about him being merely a role player. And of course, to be prepared to take over full time in the event of an injury or something.
Jeff Francoeur has been given starting jobs for no good reason for many years now, and has failed to deliver. If he had delivered, sure, maybe voicing his desire to be a starter would be justified. But that hasn’t happened, and because of it he cannot afford to be seen making demands like this in the media.
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.