Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected from Monday night’s game after arguing about a foul tip strike three to Joe Mauer that he did not believe was a foul tip strike three. Rather, he believed — as did Mauer — that the ball hit the dirt before bouncing up into the catcher’s glove.
Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports that the ejection didn’t come from any magic words being used by Gardenhire. But merely because he pointed out to the umpire that there was an obvious way to check to see if, indeed, the call was correct. He told the umpire, crew chief Fieldin Culbreth, to “check the ball” to see if it had dirt on it:
“‘Check the ball’ should not get you thrown out. There’s other things I’ve said, believe me, that deserve a pitch, but not that one. Everybody has a right to ask that — except me . . . We play with a baseball. You should look at the thing. They throw every ball out nowadays that has a mark on it — every ball. So why not check that one and see if it has a mark on it?”
Eh. Here’s the replay. Looks to me that the catcher may have trapped it, but it’s hard to tell. But given the way he caught it — kind of a snow-cone thing, in which it came down and hit the dirt while in his glove — “checking the ball” may actually have been misleading here. Pretty inconclusive and a close call either way.
Still: unless Gardenhire’s tone on “check the ball” was super jackwagony, I’m not sure why that warrants an ejection.
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.