UPDATE: It’s official: Larry Bowa and Pete Mackanin have joined Phillies staff as bench coach and 3rd base coach. Wally Joyner is out.
9:06 AM: We first talked about this in September, but now it looks like it’s gonna happen. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Larry Bowa is nearing an agreement to become the Phillies’ new bench coach.
Salisbury notes that Bowa is a friend and confidant of manager Ryne Sandberg’s, going back to their time on the Cubs in the early 80s when the former mentored the future Hall of Famer. Now, with Charlie Manuel out and his coaching staff being swept out after him, Sandberg understandably wants his own folks in place.
On the one hand I get it. Bowa, with managerial experience and the confidence of the manager, is sort of the prototypical bench coach in a certain way. Most of us didn’t even really think about the existence of bench coaches until we saw Don Zimmer at Joe Torre’s elbow for all of those years in the 90s, and it’s the same general deal there: ex-manager who can be a second set of eyes and someone who the skipper can bounce things off of. And his senior status is such that there isn’t some simmering job envy between them which could be weird.
On the other hand, Bowa has always been kind of a hothead who was known for berating players back when he managed. That’s not a trait you want in your bench coach. If anything, you’d want your bench coach who can be a guy that can bring player concerns to the manager and/or help communicate the manager’s diktats to the players if needed. Bowa is not exactly the great communicator.
Maybe his time away from the dugout has mellowed him. Maybe he’ll be able to adapt to the gig and not approach it the same way he did when he ran the Phillies ten years ago. But it will be interesting to watch regardless.
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.