Baseball’s annual drug report came out yesterday and the results are not terribly surprising: 3,714 drug tests and 17 positives, only two of which were for PEDs used by Edinson Volquez and Ronny Paulino. The other positives were stimulants and recreational drugs.
These test results will lead to predictable statements from the predictable parties: Major League Baseball will crow about how low the drug-use rate is and will say it’s because of its tough testing regime. The anti-drug people like the World Anti-Doping Agency* will say it’s evidence that baseball is whitewashing a no-doubt rampant drug problem. It’s just what they do.
I’m more interested in another number: 105. That’s how many players got Theraputic Use Exemptions in order to be able to take the drug Adderall and similar ADD-treatment products. They’re stimulants, by the way, and they’re otherwise banned because they work like greenies. 105 players represents around 10 percent of those players who are tested. ADD occurs in something like three percent of the population. I don’t know enough about ADD to say anything particularly intelligent here, but I am curious to know what sort of medical documentation is needed before baseball grants a Theraputic Use Exemption. A doctor’s note? An exam? Must there be some evidence of ADD diagnosis in the player as a child? Because that’s when most ADD cases present themselves.
Or is this just the big loophole?
*I love how they have the word “Agency” in their title. You usually see that in government offices because the term “agency,” quite literally, speaks to a relationship in which one acts pursuant to the instructions of a greater power. The President is too busy to forecast the weather, so he appoints agents to do so: the National Weather Service. WADA, however, is not a government organization. It does not act under the orders of someone else. It’s a self-appointed group that promotes its services and — more importantly — its seal-of-approval to sports leagues and governing bodies. The use of the word “agency” is designed to make it sound more official and more powerful than it truly is. Which tells you an awful lot about WADA.
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.