Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon were formally introduced by the Rays today. They had a press conference. It sounds like it was a laugh riot. Highlights, taken from this WEEI report and Marc Topkin’s Twitter feed:
- At the outset Manny smiled and said “we’re back!”
- Manny did not put on his Rays cap because he said it did not fit over his hair.
- Manny called Joe Maddon “the coach.” When asked about the lineup, Manny said he can hit anywhere because he had 5 triples in 1998.
- Manny said that he was not at all about the money but rather he was out to prove himself now and that’s all the motivation he needed. I want to believe him — and I am prepared to admit that even Manny has pride — but every single writer who has ever covered they guy is questioning his motivation with a low contract right now. Not just the normal hater-types. This will be interesting to watch.
- After being given number 24 by the Rays he said that he didn’t have a problem not being 99 because 99 is his National League number and 24 is his American League number. I’m actually going to suspend my disbelief about this and acknowledge that Manny may very well have thought this up when he was a teenager and that it was always his plan. To do this, I’ll forget that he wore 99 with the White Sox last year.
- Damon called Manny “one of greatest hitters of our generation.” Manny said “thank you Johnny.”
- Each player was asked about their physical shape. Manny flexed and pointed to his bicep. Damon said that they could either look in mirror and flex or “we can go in shower and compete there.”
- Damon said that the Rays are his “Dream Team.” No word if he admitted that he really didn’t like that octopus up in Detroit last year or if his happiness winning World Series rings in Boston and New York was a big sham. I’m totally convinced at this point that he could get signed by the Carolina Mudcats and he’d say “I always wanted to play here.”
- Manny said he had been working out with Evan Longoria and that “I’m trying to help him find his cap.”
- Joe Maddon said about Johnny and Manny: “I just want them to be themselves.”
They’re way ahead of you Joe.
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.