Hamels involved in video game controversy

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The biggest hit of the holidays won’t be a Roy Halladay trade. No, it will be “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”, a new shoot-em-up video game with rockin’ graphics and a great multiplayer feature set to hit store shelves on Tuesday in PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 formats.

It’s expected to bring in half a BILLION dollars in the first week alone. So yeah, Roy could buy the Blue Jays with that kind of cash. So what does any of this have to do with baseball? Plenty, actually.

There is some controversy around the game, all of it outlined nicely below by my Msnbc.com colleague Todd Kenreck.

 

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Among the issues creating a stir is a viral video that was released by the game’s creator featuring none other than Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. In the video, a pixilated Hamels emerges from a humvee, dressed in military gear and a Phillies cap.

He goes on what seems like a light-hearted rant against “random grenades”, but then drops a couple of curse words as he is blown up by some of the very items he despises.

The language in itself doesn’t seem like much of a big deal unless you let young children play these games and surf the web at will, which would be your own fault.

But then the video ends with a “brought to you by” message that contains a thinly veiled homophobic slur. As Kenreck reports, the video was pulled amid concerns that it “promoted hate speech in the gaming community,” but it of course lives on at YouTube. (Watch it here, unless your ears are sensitive)

Not sure what I think about the seriousness of this. The video is light-hearted in tone, but does it go too far? One thing for sure: this isn’t the kind of publicity Hamels needs. Not after his performances in the playoffs.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.