The George Lopez Show stuff from the last post inspired an offline conversation with someone who wondered whether people might think that Brian Wilson has gone overboard or jumped the shark or whatever.
To this I have to offer an emphatic no. Wilson may be completely over the top, but I don’t get the sense that he’s putting on some act simply to get noticed. I get the sense that he is truly a goofball, and is simply enjoying himself now that he’s learned that people don’t mind it when he lets his freak flag fly. It would be totally different if he was a phony who was out to get attention. I don’t see that at all.
Not that this will stop someone — be it a blogger, columnist, radio show host or whoever — from soon declaring the shark jumped. That’s just what we do. Indeed, when Brian Wilson loses effectiveness as a closer — as all closers inevitably do — I am 100% certain that someone will write the “perhaps Brian Wilson should have been working on his game more than his act” column. And when I read it I’ll die inside a little.
By its very nature — by virtue of the development process and the kinds of guys who are drawn to it — baseball lends itself to way more conformity than other sports. The stuff Bouton described in “Ball Four” wasn’t just a 1950s-era hangover. There’s a big premium placed on not sticking out. There are more coaches who are ex-players who — accurately or not — will say that when they played things were “done the right way” or whatever. As a result I get why ballplayers are more conservative than their NBA or NFL counterparts.
But there are hundreds of normal workaday ballplayers in the game. There’s usually only one Bill Lee, Mark Fydrich, Jose Lima or Brian Wilson going at any given time. When one of them comes along and adds some color, our lives are better for it.
I hope no one gets their nose out of joint over the George Lopez thing. Or the Showtime Series featuring the Giants that will air later this year. Even if it’s too much for some, it’s enjoyable as hell for a lot of us, so let’s just let it be, OK?
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.