The Astros’ hunt for a new general manager began Monday when freshly-approved owner Jim Crane fired Ed Wade. It’s early, but so far the hunt has not been fruitful. In fact, it’s even been a little embarrassing.
Crane and Co. have reached out to Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman, but most insiders believe that to be a longshot. The ‘Stros have also made contact with Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, but that’s not going to happen either.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Levine declined an interview for the GM opening in Houston despite being granted permission to seek employment outside the organization by the Rangers’ higher-ups. He deemed his current job, as an assistant to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, to be a better situation than a chance to become a primary decision-maker in Houston.
Perhaps Crane is setting the Astros’ sights too high. Friedman is a highly-regarded businessman with a personal interest in the Rays and a track record of success, and Levine is one of the top front office talents in the sport with a comfortable gig in an organization that has made consecutive trips to the World Series.
The Astros have a nice stadium and a new ownership group that seems serious about improving the overall product, but they have much rebuilding ahead and a farm system short on elite prospects.
With the Winter Meetings set to begin early next week, it might be time to begin bottom-feeding.
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.