Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff announced today that the team has reached a 10-year lease extension with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority to stay at the Oakland Coliseum. It still has to be approved by the city and the county. There are a lot of politics to all of that, but one has to assume that a team actually wanting to stay in that building is a gift horse into whose mouth they don’t want to too closely look.
The Coliseum is obviously a wreck, of course — the sewage problems are well-documented and two weeks ago the lights literally went out during a game — but this lease is likely the first step in Wolff’s grand Plan B, given that San Jose seems to be a pipe dream that neither Major League Baseball nor the San Francisco Giants want to see happen. If it doesn’t, Oakland it is, because there really aren’t a ton of other places that make a lot of sense.
The battle now is where in Oakland. There have been competing proposals for a new home for the A’s, all either unlikely to come to fruition or still in their nascent stages. There was one that would have the A’s build on the waterfront, but Wolff’s re-upping at the Coliseum and his plans to do something at the existing site, be it a Coliseum renovation or a new ballpark, seem to be way more likely. They certainly have the blessing of Major League Baseball. Bud Selig released this statement today:
“I commend the Oakland Athletics and the JPA for their efforts in reaching an extension for a lease at O.co Coliseum. The agreement on this extension is a crucial first step towards keeping Major League Baseball in Oakland.
“I continue to believe that the Athletics need a new facility and am fully supportive of the club’s view that the best site in Oakland is the Coliseum site. Contrary to what some have suggested, the committee that has studied this issue did not determine that the Howard Terminal site was the best location for a new facility in Oakland.”
In other news, that committee of his has actually studied something. People study and get PhDs in the time it took to choose between a couple of ballpark sites — and they still have released their “dissertation” about that choice — but good for them for working!
My gut says that if they’re not going to leave town altogether, staying where they are would be a good plan given the public transportation that goes right to the Coliseum’s front door. But of course my gut is pretty ill-informed about all of the local issues at play here as I have only visited the area a handful of times and have little more to go on than the stuff my Bay Area-dwelling friends have said on the matter. For that reason, go check out Newballpark.org for continuing coverage of this stuff. Those guys are on it all the damn time.
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.