After being the architect of a team which went from worst to first in the American League East and scored an eventual World Series victory over the Cardinals, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has been voted as the Sporting News Executive of the Year.
The award was voted on by a panel of 31 MLB executives prior to the postseason. Cherington was presented with the award tonight at the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
“I’ve always felt this award is about the organization, not the GM,” Cherington told Sporting News. “I understand the GM is receiving it, and I’m happy to receive it, but I’m proud of the organization. This is for everyone who works for us and went through a tough time in 2012, and committed to making things better, getting things right. I’m not sure it was necessarily a World Series outcome we had in mind, but we were fortunate that the people in our clubhouse accomplished great things. It was fun to be a part of.”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington finished second and had a very strong case for the award, but MLB executives were understandably impressed by Boston’s rapid turnaround. The makeover really began last August when Cherington unloaded the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers, which gave him the flexibility to sign Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, and David Ross over the winter. The signings all paid dividends while players who were injured or underperformed in 2012 bounced back. He also acquired Jake Peavy in a midseason deal to fortify the rotation. While Cherington was recognized by his peers for his success this evening, Red Sox manager John Farrell is the odds-on favorite to be named the American League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA tomorrow night.
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.