Today the Red Sox play their annual Patriot’s Day morning game. And today is the Boston Marathon. Emotions at both locations will run high.
Last year, the Red Sox beat the Rays in a walkoff win. As that game was ending, everything was changing. As the team headed to the airport for their flight to the next city and next series, news of the Boston Marathon bombings spread and the entire city of Boston was shaken. There was fear and confusion and sorrow but, a few days later when the Red Sox got back to town, those feelings were met with strength and resolve. They were met with David Ortiz’s stirring speech to Red Sox fans and the city as a whole: “This is OUR F***in’ City!” he said. And with that, Boston Strong came to define the Red Sox season
Which isn’t to say that what happened at the Marathon was about the Red Sox or that everything the Red Sox do is about the Marathon. But it is undeniable that the Red Sox served as a rallying point and welcome diversion from the horror that was visited upon the city last Patriot’s Day. And that the tragedy of the bombings and the example the city set in the wake helped inspire the team. I’m sure every city would rally strongly if such a thing were to occur there — we’ve, unfortunately, seen cities have to do that in the past — but it just served as another reminder of how particularly close the Red Sox and Boston are. How the bond between sports and the city as a whole may be stronger in Boston than a lot of places, for a lot of reasons.
Last night the heroes of the aftermath of the bombings were remembered at Fenway Park in an official ceremony. I suspect that, later this morning, there will be many more unofficial remembrances to go along with it as the Red Sox take the field on a beautiful Patriot’s Day. In a city that could not be defeated and I suspect cannot be defeated.
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.