Many are talking about this as the latest act in the season long run of The Umpire Follies, but I think it’s something more fundamental.
The upshot: in the ninth inning of yesterday’s Royals-Angels game, Jeff Francoeur swung at a pitch with two strikes on him. Home plate umpire Marty Foster called him out on strikes. But wait! Francoeur argued that he fouled the ball off and should live to take another hack. Foster, eventually, consulted second base umpire Tim Welke who backed Francoeur, saying he saw the ball tipped. Foster reversed himself.
This set off an argument from Mike Scioscia, who claimed that Foster wasn’t allowed to consult another ump on that call for a second opinion. Scioscia — who had multiple run-ins with Foster all weekend — was ejected. After the game, Ned Yost actually agreed with Scioscia that Foster couldn’t consult Welke:
Royals manager Ned Yost had a different angle on the play, but believed that Foster shouldn’t have been able to check with Welke on the play.
“It was a foul ball,” Yost said. “I told Marty, he said he didn’t hear it. I said I heard it; he goes ‘Well I’ll check.’ You’re not allowed to check, so Mike was right in a sense. But one of the umpires did see it.”
Know what? Any rules of umpiring which prevent calls from being made properly, be it due to the lack of replay or the lack of what umpires are allowed to do with replay or situations like this one where umpires are allowed to ask for help from other umps on some calls but not others is stupid.
“You’re not allowed to check?” Christ, man, get the calls right. That’s all fans want. If one umpire sees something and another one doesn’t, what possible justification is there for us to ignore the right call? I’m GLAD Foster consulted Welke. I don’t care what the rules say. Get the calls right.
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.