The Daily News reminds us that the Yankees contract with WCBS-AM expires at the end of the 2011 season, so with it so do the contracts of radio voiced John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Moreover, there has not been any serious negotiation between the Yankees and WCBS yet, and other stations are reportedly interested in getting into the Yankees’ broadcasting business. If they do, it could mean the end of thhhhhhheeeeee line for Sterling and Waldman.
Thankfully I don’t have to listen to Sterling and Waldman very often, but I am interested in this for one angle: the Daily News says that a potential suitor for the Yankees games is the New York ESPN affiliate 1050 AM. Their signal is apparently far weaker than WCBS’s. One would think that the Yankees wouldn’t be interested in a deal that would lead to fewer viewers being able to hear the games, but if ESPN outbids WCBS, why wouldn’t they take the money? At that point the financial risk of lower ratings is on the station. We saw this dynamic play out with the Cardinals recently who, a few years ago left high-powered KMOX for a richer deal on another station that, it turns out, reached far fewer ears. The Cards have just rectified this by announcing a return to KMOX next year. The Tigers spent forever on WJR in Detroit — you could hear that signal all the way to North Carolina at night — but that ended years ago, and now you can’t follow them nearly as far outside of their local market as you used to be able to.
Who knows what will happen with the Yankees, but based on what I hear from folks about Sterling and Waldman, Yankees fans may not mind trading away a little broadcast range.
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.