OK, so at this point we know that Alex Rodriguez regularly played poker, usually for a lot of money and with some shady people, but one thing I haven’t heard addressed is whether he’s actually any good. Until yesterday, that is.
I was watching a recent episode of NBC’s late-night show “Poker After Dark” on my DVR when the players at the $100,000 buy-in table began sharing their experiences playing in cash games with Rodriguez.
Their talking about him was purely a coincidence, since the episode was taped months before the various allegations surfaced this week, but I thought the discussion was interesting. You can watch the episode online, but here’s a transcript of the Rodriguez-related banter that occurred as part of some more general chatter about high-stakes mixed games:
Mike Matusow: I heard A-Rod was playing $50-$100 no-limit.
Jean-Robert Bellande: Yeah, we’ll add no-limit [to the mix] for the right guy.
Michael Mizrachi: Does he play mixed [games] or just no-limit?
Mike Matusow: No-limit.
Jean-Robert Bellande: We just play no-limit with him. And then we just switch right back to the mix as soon as he gets up [from the table].
Chris Ferguson: How does he play?
Jean-Robert Bellande: I thought he played fine. I wouldn’t say he plays great, I wouldn’t say he plays awful.
Michael Mizrachi: If he plays fine, that’s really good.
Roughly translated: Rodriguez plays strictly no-limit hold ’em, but the professional poker players are willing to abandon the other games in their usual “mix” to accommodate his action. So while Jean-Robert Bellande says “he played fine” the fact that high-stakes pros are willing to completely alter the games being played in order to keep him at the table tells you plenty about whether Rodriguez can hold his own or not. He’s the fish.
And there’s no shame in that. I’m pretty much obsessed with poker and would probably get my clock cleaned if I sat down at the table in question, with the main difference being that Rodriguez can actually afford to sit at a $50-$100 no-limit table and probably doesn’t mind dusting off $50,000 in the name of having a good time playing with the big boys. After all, he makes about $200,000 per day at his real job.
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.