You may recall that Orioles manager Buck Showalter made some pointed comments to USA Today last month about how the Yankees would benefit from Alex Rodriguez being suspended. For those unfamiliar, he said the following:
“If Bud lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax. If they can reset, they can spend again, and I guarantee you in two years, Matt Wieters is in New York.”
While Showalter later said that he thought he was speaking off the record, MLB wasn’t too happy about it. According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred placed a call to Orioles VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette to discuss the matter.
Manfred told him that the timing of Showalter’s comments, with the suspensions only days away, were not helpful and that there were many factors in play beyond what Showalter was aware of. He also wanted to make it clear that the issue was about Rodriguez, not a matter of letting the Yankees get away with anything.
Upon hearing about Manfred’s call, Showalter reached out to MLB commissioner Bud Selig to clear the air. The two “were said to have had a productive conversation.”
MLB obviously doesn’t want to give the impression that they are working to give the Yankees any sort of advantage, so it’s not surprising that they were peeved with the comments. But Showalter’s point remains relevant. If A-Rod’s suspension sticks, it will be a boon to the Yankees’ luxury tax situation.
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.