I guess the post office has finally delivered those letters Bud Selig had been asking for, because Jayson Stark reports that there will likely be expanded replay in 2014.
There had been talk of expanding replay to some degree in 2013 — to fair/foul calls, mostly — but Stark reports that people in the game are taking a go-big-or-go-home approach and would prefer to implement something more comprehensive. That will take waiting a year as opposed to rushing something into place this year. Which, OK, even though I wish we had replay yesterday, I agree is probably the best move. Let’s do this thing right if we’re going to do it.
The only unsettling part is that, according to Stark, there is still some debate about what sort of system to implement and that — brace yourselves — some version of a challenge system is still on the table. Stark refers to a plan in which managers may get, say, two challenges a game for close calls.
Which I absolutely hate. Either commit to getting all or as many calls correct as possible or don’t. Don’t make some game out of it where — sorry, Cholly! — you just lost a big game because you foolishly wasted your challenges on clear umpire mistakes in the first couple of innings and now you’re stuck with a clear umpire mistake in the eighth!
As I’ve said umpteen times: Put an ump in a booth with the power to call down to his colleagues and overturn them. If you must, set up a mission control in MLB headquarters that is able to do functionally the same thing. But dear God, do not turn getting the mistakes of umpires into some sort of carnival side show cum game of chance for managers. They got enough to worry about already without making the umpires’ problems their own.
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.