Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston reports that there’s mutual interest between Nolan Ryan and the Houston Astros in having Ryan return to the Astros in some executive capacity or another.
What that role would be is unclear, and the sides have not even discussed the matter yet. But Berman quotes Ryan as being amenable to coming back to Houston, where his son Reid is president of business operations. Astros owner Jim Crane likewise says that he would like to bring Nolan Ryan back if he could. He said he’s hoping to talk to Ryan soon.
One interesting comment from Crane involves seeing how a pairing would work “with the business-side and the baseball-side.” While it’s hard to tell exactly what led to Ryan leaving the Rangers, there were frequent reports in recent years that it involved clashes with Jon Daniels’ people on the baseball side of things. Speculation existed — and was often colorfully vented — that Daniels’ sabermetrcially-oriented team clashed with an older school Ryan.
If there is any truth to that dynamic — and again, it could just be some journalists’ axe-grinding with Daniels — it would be hard to see how Ryan would fit on the baseball operations side of things in Houston, as Jeff Luhnow has assembled a young and analytic-heavy baseball operations team of his own. Of course, given that Reid Ryan is on the business side, it would make sense that Nolan Ryan would be on that side of things as well, working with or for his son.
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.