Got some controversial news you’d like to take cover from? How about letting it slip on Hall of Fame induction day? That seems to be what is happening here:
As Lukas notes, visually, this is not a big deal. We’re still going to see Wahoo all over the place. But make no mistake: this is a big deal. It’s a significant move which comports pretty nicely with what I have long suspected: Indians management’s desire to slowly, slowly marginalize Chief Wahoo with an eye towards his eventual elimination.
I first floated this idea a couple of years ago when I noticed that, at the Indians’ spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, Chief Wahoo is hard to find. The buildings and signage all feature the block C logo and the block C cap is worn far more often during spring training than in the regular season. With the introduction of the Indians’ alternate uniforms in the past few years — alternates that are worn far more often than most teams wear their alternates — my suspicions along these lines have increased.
Of course, the Indians have denied that they are phasing out Wahoo. As I probably would too if I were in their position. They have a large and loyal fan base who has been wearing that odious red-faced mascot on their caps and shirts for decades now. The team doesn’t want to make an abrupt change, with an attendant announcement, which effectively says “hey, fans? You all are racists in our eyes now, ok?” They also don’t want to lose merchandise sales. And to be clear, Wahoo still exists even on the alternate jerseys in the form of a sleeve patch and apparently still will even now that the official logo has changed.
But this fall the Indians surveyed fans about Wahoo. And the heat being brought to bear on the Washington Redskins for their racist name and iconography is no doubt being noticed on Ontario Street up in Cleveland. And, even if they once again deny it today, it’s impossible to see this move as anything other than a further marginalization of Chief Wahoo. One that, in my view, will inevitably lead to his elimination at one point in the not-too-distant future, even if it’s done without a press release or official announcement.
And good for the Cleveland Indians for doing so.
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.