Tom Verducci has an exclusive interview with Bud Selig and asked him about PEDs, replay, competitive balance and his legacy in the game. Takeaways: (1) he’s definitely retiring after 2014; (2) he denies that baseball turned a blind eye to PEDs; rather he was surprised by it and then the union fought testing; (3) he simply changed his mind about replay; and (4) he’s proud of what has happened to competitive balance in the game.
I think serious issue can be taken with his account of the history of PEDs in baseball. Veducci pressed him a couple of times and it caused Selig to admit some things. And while I have no doubt about Selig’s personal ignorance of PEDs — he tells a story about how he had his pharmacist explain Andro to him — I wasn’t aware that the entirety of Major League Baseball’s knowledge and action with respect to PEDs was contingent on the personal knowledge of an aging and physically-detached-from-the-clubhouse commissioner. Baseball as an institution turned a blind eye and it seems impossible for Selig to deny that.
As for replay, I wish Verducci asked him about why it needs to be a challenge system, but I don’t suppose Selig would have much to say beyond deferring to the expertise of his commission on the matter.
It’s hard to take any issue with Selig’s final summation of his legacy:
if you look at where we were in 1992 in terms of attendance, revenue, popularity, game itself, competitive balance, labor peace, go on and on, I think the last 21, 22 years of baseball have been really remarkably good. But I’ve got to let others draw those conclusions.
That’s undeniably true. We can and should note when good things happen despite bad decisions and when better things could have or may be achieved rather than merely good, but it’s hard to argue that the game is worse off now than it was when Selig took over.
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.