On the one hand, kudos to Bill Plaschke for reading the story about Yasiel Puig from Jesse Katz and L.A. Magazine and acknowledging that maybe there’s a little bit more to Puig than his failure to hit the cutoff man.
On the other hand, it’s interesting that, given all of the harrowing details of Puig’s passage to the United States and the personal threats that he was subjected to along the way, Plaschke makes a point to repeatedly talk about it in terms of how all of that could threaten Dodger Stadium, Dodgers fans and other Dodgers players:
Now that Puig is a multi-millionaire, are the smugglers still involved, and could that involvement one day lead to Dodger Stadium? . . . Could there be revenge involved, and could that one day lead to Dodger Stadium? . . . Since security issues are best kept secure, the Dodgers are just probably being responsible in not acknowledging what they are doing to protect Puig and everyone — fans and players included — around him . . . One can only hope this season the added security remains, both on the field and in the stands, particularly when Puig is standing alone in right field.
I guess it’s nice that he included threats to Puig himself at the end there. I mean, it’s not all about the danger Plaschke believes Puig represents to law abiding Dodgers fans and teammates.
Of course, more broadly, Plaschke misses the point. While, yes, some danger to Puig is something to be concerned about given what he’s gone through, there was no suggestion in either the L.A. Magazine story or in the history of other Cuban players in the United States that violence and acts of terrorism at the ballpark are a specific concern, let alone any that pose a threat to fans. Rather, it’s about how the player himself had to experience some crazy and scary things and how that both shapes him and shapes others who have to go through that ordeal.
But, of course, to some people, Puig will always be a problem rather than a person, and the basic humanity of the guy at question will be secondary to the dissatisfaction or threat he presents to others, legitimate or otherwise.
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.