Earlier this morning I talked about whether the Mariners will try to void Milton Bradley’s deal. As reader Sean Boulton noted on Twitter last night, however, they wouldn’t even consider it if they keep true to form. Heck, they wouldn’t even cut him.
Remember the Josh Lueke controversy? He was one of the players sent from Texas to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal. In 2008 Lueke faced rape and sodomy charges in California, pleaded no contest after the cops figured out he was lying his butt off to them about the incident and was sentenced to 40 days in jail. While some front office types in Seattle claimed they didn’t know about it at the time of the trade, former Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair said he told GM Jack Zduriencik about Lueke’s troubles “well before the deal.”
The Mariners were so embarrassed about it all that someone in the organization felt it necessary to lie and/or dissemble about it. And of course, Lueke and his 96 m.p.h fastball are still on the team.
If I’m Milton Bradley, and the Mariners try to do something to me on character and citizenship grounds after I have only been accused of a crime — and the crime is less serious than the one for which Leuke was convicted — I get pretty damn huffy. And if I’m the Mariners and I want to do something about Bradley at this point, I prepare myself to answer a hell of a lot of questions about double standards when it comes to violence and the threat thereof.
Not that they don’t already have one. As Geoff Baker has noted in the past, the Mariners have been out front in the community supporting groups and initiatives aimed at putting a stop to violence against women. This has led to a zero-tolerance policy on the part of the team which has in turn led to players being sent out of town on a rail before. A policy that was apparently ignored in Lueke’s case.
My guess: the Mariners do nothing to Bradley.
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.