Kirby Puckett statue

Everything you ever wanted to know about ballplayer statues

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Statues of baseball players: they’re not just the place where you meet your buddy who has the extra ticket or a convenient location for the pigeons to poop. They’re actually becoming an increasingly popular fixture in ballparks, and the New York Times is on it.  (They’re always ON IT, actually).

For reasons that I can’t quite explain, but likely having to do with a fear of mortality and all of that, I have never been able to avoid thinking of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” whenever I see a statue of some historical figure. I realize that the idea is to immortalize these men and women and serve as a reminder of their feats, but I always get an image of Earth in the post-Martian invasion, with these statutes consisting of two vast and trunkless legs of stone. Or bronze. Or whatever. It feels like we’re trying too hard to fight against time and deep in my heart, I know we’ll never win.

Sorry. I’ll admit that this is my particular neurosis, so I’ll just move along now.

Less morosely, I found the description of how some of the artists make these ballplayer statues to be quite neat. The examples of those crafted with reference to live models, as opposed to photos, are pretty cool:

Cella supplied a plastic bat for Thomas (White Sox) so he could hold his position, with arms extended. Robin Roberts (Phillies) had turned 80 when he mimicked his pitching style for Frudakis, and Harmon Killebrew (Twins) posed in his 70s for Mack. The son of Richie Ashburn (Phillies) stood in for his deceased father. Mack was driving when he spotted a man with a body shape similar to that of the deceased Kirby Puckett. The stranger became the model for Puckett.

I wonder if the stranger was flattered or insulted. Great ballplayer. Not the best body shape ever, though his statue is rather flattering.

Anyway, neat read.

Trevor May joins eSports team Luminosity

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 04: Trevor May #65 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning at Progressive Field on August 4, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Twins 9-2.  (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
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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.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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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.