I missed this because, really, I had no idea that baseball took place after 11PM Eastern time. But in last night’s Braves-Mariners game, the M’s had a catcher fiasco. Miguel Olivo left early due to cramps in his hamstring and the backup catcher, Chris Gimenez, strained his oblique in the fifth inning.
Gimenez could apparently still catch the ball — he stayed in the game — but when he came up to bat in the 7th inning with two runners on and two outs in a one-run game, he did something strange: he tried to bunt. And he struck out, watching strike three go by. Here was Eric Wedge’s explanation:
“I tell you what, Chris really sucked it up,” Wedge said. “We had to keep him back there because we needed a catcher. In that situation there, we have him try to bunt for a hit. It was either two shots to get a bunt for a hit, otherwise he had to take it like a man and just hope that he walked him.”
Or, in a close game, with runners on, when you’re still in the race for the playoffs, you could, you know, pinch hit for him? And hope that your emergency catcher — which every team has, right? — can handle two innings behind the plate?
So, which was it, Wedge: was this not an emergency, or do you not have an emergency catcher?
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.