On Tuesday night, Twins prospect Miguel Sano showboated after hitting a home run. As Patrick Reusse describes it, Sano “stood at the plate for a few seconds, walked out of the box, flipping the bat, and then slow-strutted around the bases.” Jeff Smith, manager of the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats, benched Sano for the ensuing game. It was thought that one game was the extent of the punishment, but Sano was again absent from tonight’s lineup, marking the fourth consecutive game his manager has held him out.
Reusse provides some back story on Sano’s showmanship:
Sano was promoted from Class A Fort Myers to New Britain on June 9 and joined the lineup on June 12. [Bobby] Lanigan was released from New Britain on June 25. During that two-week period, Sano and Lanigan had a loud confrontation as the Rock Cats were on a road trip.
The identity of the pitcher had much to do with the extra juice Sano put into Tuesday’s home run reaction. When confronted over this by Smith, notorious in the Twins’ system as a hard-nosed manager, Sano basically told Smith that he would do what he chose after hitting home runs.
Sano has continued his meteoric rise to stardom after his promotion to Double-A. In 144 plate appearances with New Britain, Sano has hit 10 home runs. Combined with his previous work at Single-A Fort Myers, he now has 26 home runs on the season, putting him two shy of last year’s total. Reusse suggests there is a chance Sano opens up the 2014 season as the Twins’ starting third baseman, batting cleanup.
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.