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ESPN enters the world of esports

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Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports and Wrestling. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

Well it's finally happened, the big dog has stepped into the ring. Esports just picked up probably the most important ally any sport could ever ask for, ESPN. While they had been broadcasting buddies with several leagues of varying size and games, such as The Overwatch League, they are now going to begin hosting their own events. Beginning with Apex Legends at the ESPYs in July, the network will begin hosting invitationals and events at most of their major live events and galas. The reality of all of this is that now ESPN is moving from broadcast partner to actual organizer and event holder which means they're upping their level of commitment and involvement in terms of resources and talent and money and screen time, all of which is only going to help the sport as a whole grow.

The Houston Outlaws return to action this week as The Overwatch League comes back for Stage Three of this season. Their first game is tomorrow at about 9:30 central time on Twitch, ESPN online and the various websites and such. It's unfortunate to note overall that the ownership change still hasn't occurred and that there were no significant changes to the coaching staff or roster, as overall the team has been underperforming steadily for a little while. The desired outcome for this program is to return to the winning ways they had in Stage 1 of the first season of OWL when they were in first place and had momentum going in their favor. Since then it's been a very difficult path for this team with disappointment after disappointment stacking up. They obviously finished the first season out of the playoffs and this season they look to be quickly falling towards mathematical elimination, from that point it's hard to see what can be done in the short term to improve this team without the commitment of resources and support that the other teams all seem to be getting. Where can this team go? Overall I'd like to say the only real direction is up but that feels unlikely as both completed stages of this season have been devastatingly underwhelming in both preparation and performance. This is a team that feels like it's going to keep going in the wrong direction until a real change occurs in a leadership position.

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Life after Correa may not be the worst thing. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Carlos Correa is having a damn good year. The Astros shortstop is hitting .285 with 24 homers, 87 RBI, 72 walks, .862 OPS, a 7.2 WAR, and a .981 fielding percentage. In any other year, those would be numbers worthy of being in the mix for AL MVP (if it weren't for that dastardly Shohei Otani). Correa is also in a contract year. He and the Astros were far enough apart that the season started and he's held true to not wanting to negotiate midseason.

The offers of six years for $120 million and five years for $125 million were both rejected by he and his camp. They're seeking something much longer and for more money on the annual average. With the team unwilling to meet those demands, it seems as if the team and the player are headed for a split.

Lots of Astros fans are not happy with the prospect of Correa leaving via free agency. Some think the team isn't doing enough and should pony up to bring him back. Some feel Correa should take what they're offering because it's a fair deal that'll allow the team to sign other players. Then, there's that small band of us that are totally okay with him leaving.

One of the main reasons I'm okay with him leaving is the players the team still has under control that are potential replacements. Aledmys Diaz and Pedro Leon are the first two guys that come to mind. Diaz is a 31-year-old vet who's stepped up when he's called upon. He can slide over to third and allow Alex Bregman to play shortstop. Leon is the team's 23-year-old hot prospect who signed as an outfielder that the team has been trying to turn into a shortstop. If Correa were to leave, he could instantly plug the hole Carlos would leave behind. Either of those options lead to my next point of being okay with Correa leaving which is to...

...allocate that money elsewhere. Whether it's signing a replacement (at short or third), or boosting the pitching staff, I'll be fine as long as it's money well spent. Signing a shortstop or third baseman would determine where Bregman would be playing. If said player takes significantly less than Correa and fills 70-80% of his offensive shoes, it'll be worth it. Others will have to step it up. If they find a deal on a top of the rotation starting pitcher, that would be ideal as well. As I stated a couple of weeks ago, this team has employed a six-man rotation, but doesn't have a true ace. Spending anywhere from $20-30 million a year on a top-notch pitcher to add to the staff would bolster this staff in more ways than one. It'll finally give them the ace they lack, plus it'll bump all the young talent (still under team control) down a peg creating depth and perhaps even creating bullpen depth.

The only way any of this works is if Correa isn't back. Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander's money comes off the books also. Freeing up that much payroll and not re-appropriating those resources to ensure this team stays in contention would be a first degree felony in sports court. I don't think Jim Crane wants that for this team. I for sure don't think James Click wants that as his legacy. Let's sit back and watch how the organization maneuvers this offseason and pray they get it right.


Editor's note: If you want to read the other side of the argument, check out Ken Hoffman's piece from Tuesday.

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