The Braves are in Queens, New York tonight to open up a three-game series against the Mets. Catcher Evan Gattis isn’t starting, but figures to be used as a pinch-hitter late in the game if the Braves are in need of some offense, as the 26-year-old came up with two big home runs recently: on Saturday, Gattis broke an eighth-inning 0-0 tie with a two-run home run off of Kenley Jansen; on Tuesday, he tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run off of Glen Perkins; and on Wednesday, he boosted the Braves’ lead to 8-0 with a fourth inning grand slam off of Vance Worley.
It wasn’t always easy. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports, the last time Gattis was in New York, he was out of baseball and begging for food and money.
When Gattis attempted to get money from an ATM machine to buy a hot dog on the fourth day of that five-day trip, he learned he was penniless. His account showed a negative $17, and he was not scheduled to fly back home out of John F. Kennedy International Airport until the next night.
“I was like, ‘What am I going to do?'” Gattis said. “I just lost it. I was so beaten. I was bawling, crying. I was trying to sell clothes. I was like, ‘You want a bag of clothes so I can get on a train to get to JFK?'”
Things have turned around for Gattis, who spent this afternoon at MLB’s Fan Cave in New York dressed up as a polar bear for some reason.
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.