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Hanley Ramirez DFA'd

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Press Start: May Changes His Game (Again)

In a pro sports locker room culture largely associated with jocks and meatheads, Trevor May certainly stands out. He isn’t the only major-leaguer with a profile in the gaming community, but his might be the highest.

While the right-hander is excited to get his Nintendo Switch so he can play Zelda on road trips, it’s another switch Twins fans are more interested in as he makes the move back from relieving to starting.
There was some consternation over Minnesota's lack of offseason action on the starting pitching front, given the horrendous results that unit put forth last year. However, the rotation can potentially receive a huge boost simply by getting May back following his 2016 foray into the bullpen.

It’s an opportunity for the 27-year-old to press reset. And the stakes are high for both him and the club.

~~~


Reality is a bit more unpredictable and complicated than the virtual alternative, as May knows all too well. In a baseball sim on PlayStation, you pick your pitch, aim the joystick and press a button to deliver. You needn't deal with days where your stuff isn’t there, or with changes in your role dictated from up top, or with injuries that you just can’t seem to shake.

All of these hindrances helped turn May’s 2016 campaign into a nightmarish one. But the righty believes he’s stronger for the experience.

“I learned a lot of stuff about myself,” he said. "Getting myself ready, working through things, when I need to shut it down, when I need to battle through.”

May’s efforts to battle through recurring back problems proved counterproductive last summer, as his numbers suffered (a 1.89 ERA and .563 opponents' OPS through May 10th gave way to 7.99 and .902 the rest of the way) and a stress fracture was discovered in September.

Now, he’s got a strategy in place that he believes will keep those pesky back issues at bay.

“The problem with backs, as many people know,” May explained, “is that when you tweak it, it’s hard to relax and not be tight all the time. That’s something I learned a lot about in the offseason.”

“I’ve learned how to let myself relax.”

~~~


There are few things more relaxing than cozying up to the keyboard or controller and plugging in. Perhaps that’s part of May’s regimen. He makes no secret of his affinity for gaming, and he also happens to be pretty good at it. In February, he became the only pro athlete on an eSports team when he signed on with Luminosity.

Attached Image: mayluminosityplain.png

For the uninitiated, eSports is a humongous and rapidly growing industry that involves playing video games competitively for spectators, often while commentating.

For May, the game of choice is Overwatch, a cartoony first-person shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment. He calls the arrangement “kind of an informal thing” but both he and Luminosity have played it up, and the significance isn’t lost on people like Pete Leisen.

You might be familiar with Leisen, though not by that name. He goes by the pseudonym Panda Pete, and makes up one half of the Twins and Losses duo; they frequently post their stuff here on Twins Daily. Pete's been blogging about the Twins since 2014, but he has been a gamer for pretty much his entire life, ever since he fell in love with the original Nintendo Entertainment System as a kid.

For a lifelong baseball fan and avid gamer, May presents the ideal intersection of interests. On the field, he's a hell of a pitcher. Off it, he's an obsessive video game player with an entertaining persona.

"Being around the same age as Trevor, along with his personality, make him a must-watch," Leisen said. "Sure he's a professional baseball player, but you can tell he loves games by his reactions when things go good and bad."

Connecting with May through this medium enables Leisen to scratch two itches at once.

"Twins fans, baseball fans, and gamers alike ask him questions about his 'day job' and he almost always gives an honest answer. It's also interesting to see how baseball fans and gamers interact with each other because there are some pure baseball fans who want to support Trevor, and pure gamers who like what he streams."

It's safe to say the Twins pitcher is gaining new fans all the time, from all corners. He has a big one in Pete – heck, the two are posing together in his Twitter profile pic.

Attached Image: petemay.jpg

~~~


May is openly passionate about his pastime, but serious about his business. He is as self-analytical and reflective as any player you will talk to in the Minnesota clubhouse. He's also constantly looking for ways to improve.

If you hold a grudge toward Kevin Jepsen, I don't blame you. Terry Ryan gave up Chih-Wei Hu, an intriguing pitching prospect, to acquire the reliever at the 2015 deadline and Jepsen completely bombed last year when the team needed him after Glen Perkins went down.

But Jepsen did leave a parting gift. May credits the veteran with helping teach him a new curveball grip that he implemented halfway through the season with exceptional results. The new technique gives him more 12-to-6 movement and less horizontal tilt. It also comes in much faster.

"My swing-and-miss rate on it has gone up a lot since the change," he said after an impressive outing against Team USA on Wednesday. "It's been hit hard a lot less."

Who else helped contribute to this evolution? Yet another unpopular Twins castoff.

"Ricky Nolasco said, I throw my curveball slow on purpose and I grip it like that" – May repositions his fingers on the ball he's using to demonstrate for reporters, back to his original grip – "because I want it to be slow."

"He goes, you want to throw a hard curveball though right? I'm like, yeah. He's like, don't hold it like this then, idiot!"

So far, there are positive signs. On Wednesday, the difficulty level was turned up for May when he faced a star-studded lineup that featured – in his words – "the No. 3 hitter from every team." One of the right-hander's biggest pitches was a curve that dived out of the zone and coaxed Nolan Arenado to go too far with a check swing for strike three.

Arenado was the actual No. 3 hitter on a team full of them, so that basically makes him the Shao Kahn or M. Bison in this scenario. May's weapon upgrade helped him vanquish the boss. If this reinvention assists in spurring a turnaround for the Twins rotation, Jepsen and Nolasco will be accepting apologies from the boo birds while the end credits roll.

~~~


Video games are fun. The Twins 2016 season, obviously, was not. It was like lag hitting when you're in the middle of a kill streak. It was like a brand new disc freezing at the first loading screen. It was like freaking Superman 64.

"We're tired of being that team. It's time to step up and hold everyone accountable," May said.

He includes himself in that mandate, and that's why he spent his offseason getting right physically and prepping for a triumphant return to the rotation, where he showed significant promise in 2015 before being shifted to relief.

The Twins don’t need him to put up video game numbers. They’ll welcome steady mid-rotation production and May is more than capable of providing it.

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35 Comments

The Twins don’t need him to put up video game numbers. They’ll welcome steady mid-rotation production and May is more than capable of providing it.

 

Agree 100% with this.But I have wondered with May how much of this and the music thing is a distraction vs an escape. If it is an escape that makes him release and then be able to focus on his game, it is great, but if it is a distraction...

 

Based on what I saw from his composure yesterday, when he did have butterflies and messed up in the beginning of the first and then came back, despite the home plate umpire squeezing him, this will be a special season for him

 

Video games or not.

    • glunn, Oldgoat_MN, HitInAPinch and 1 other like this

Good article, thank you.

    • Nick Nelson, glunn and HitInAPinch like this

I liked most of what I saw in yesterday's game. His stuff seemed good (though I wish that there had been a radar gun graphic so that we could have observed the speeds of the various pitches).

 

I also liked how he came back after early adversity against some of the best hitters on the planet.

 

This article suggests a growing level of maturity and self knowledge. I am hopeful that May can translate that into success.

 

I also share Thrylos' concern that the video games might be(come) a distraction. I think that May has the ability to become a #2 pitcher, but to get there he will have to work very hard. That includes studying game films and planning how best to deal with every hitter on each opposing team, working hard to maximize his condition on off days, making every bullpen session count, etc.

 

Some players have the talent to be great despite goofing off and partying, e.g. MIckey Mantle. Some players can be great because they will themselves to be great and they work far harder than average. I think that May could be great, but that it's up to him whether he wants it bad enough.

 

In many of these video games it's easy to end up going to bed too late, because you just want to complete one more level. If May wants to be great, he needs to regulate this. because inadequate sleep greatly reduces human efficiency, both mental and physical.

 

I liked most of what I saw in yesterday's game. His stuff seemed good (though I wish that there had been a radar gun graphic so that we could have observed the speeds of the various pitches).

 

 

During the Phillies broadcast of their Twins game, the MPH flashed on every pitch in the box that showed the pitch count.  It is not just spring training, it seems to be the attitude that the only data presented is what the announcers believe to be important. So many other teams/networks do a better job.

    • glunn and d-mac like this
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HitInAPinch
Mar 10 2017 03:30 AM

 



“I’ve learned how to let myself relax.”

 

Ah, my young padawan:Much to learn, have you.I see not mention of beer.

    • Blake, d-mac and snap4birds like this
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IndyTwinsFan
Mar 10 2017 05:52 AM

While I agree with most of what Thrylos and glunn are saying here and that May needs to take great pains to not overuse this to the point of distraction, I also believe that if he believes that doing this serves as a bit of stress relief, then this isn't necessarily such a bad thing.

 

Unfortunately, because none of us are on the inside and have no real sense of how he will respond to this aspect of his life, I'm going to refrain from making any judgments regarding how the usage of this affects his job as a (starting) pitcher. I only hope that he's mature enough to now when to quit, and/or has enough trustworthy family or friends around him to prevent overuse and the potential adverse effects of doing so.

    • Carole Keller, Steve Lein, glunn and 1 other like this
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Twins and Losses
Mar 10 2017 09:46 AM
With his streaming schedule, Trevor doesn't stream on days he's pitching. He also does shorter streams based on his baseball schedule. As someone who's been watching him since last August, video games are what he likes to do when he's not playing baseball.
    • Steve Lein, glunn, James and 2 others like this

Good golly. There are 12-16 hours of awake time every day. Do you not play games or read books or watch baseball games? Does that make you bad at your job. Wow people? These are humans, not robots. 

    • Carole Keller, James, Twins33 and 6 others like this

 

In many of these video games it's easy to end up going to bed too late, because you just want to complete one more level. If May wants to be great, he needs to regulate this. because inadequate sleep greatly reduces human efficiency, both mental and physical.

 

To be fair on this point, being an MLB baseball player is hardly comparable to having a 9-5 job.

 

He doesn't have to be up by 6:30-8:00AM every morning to do everything he needs to be successful. During the season, when they've got a game at 7:00PM, players aren't at the park by 9:00AM unless they have another reason to be. There's more than enough time available for him to dedicate to hobbies such as this, given what his job actually entails. 

 

There definitely is a point where it can be bad, but I would think he's well aware of what that is and is a non-issue.

    • Carole Keller, Vanimal46 and d-mac like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Mar 10 2017 10:44 AM

FA contracts will do more to check any video game behavior... 

 

But that said, I still think May can be a 1/2 type pitcher.I think the move to the pen was short sighted (though it may have helped a bit, so I cannot bash it completely).Here's to hoping Trevor locks up one of those 5 spots not just out of spring, but for the next 4-6 years.

    • glunn likes this

Good golly. There are 12-16 hours of awake time every day. Do you not play games or read books or watch baseball games? Does that make you bad at your job. Wow people? These are humans, not robots.


Yeah, I wonder if we'd get the same comments about distractions if he was spending his free time reading classic literature, or volunteering with orphans?

As an able minded adult, I'm going to go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt that he can manage his work and free times until he shows otherwise.
    • Steve Lein, Mike Sixel, diehardtwinsfan and 4 others like this

 

Yeah, I wonder if we'd get the same comments about distractions if he was spending his free time reading classic literature, or volunteering with orphans?

As an able minded adult, I'm going to go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt that he can manage his work and free times until he shows otherwise.

 

We would. Some fans believe that athletes should be doing athlete stuff 24 x 7, or they don't really CARE. 

    • Carole Keller and d-mac like this

 

Good golly. There are 12-16 hours of awake time every day. Do you not play games or read books or watch baseball games? Does that make you bad at your job. Wow people? These are humans, not robots. 

 

I know, right? All these old people are like "Get off my lawn you kids!" Or, "Video games will turn your brain to mush!" -Every "boomer" generation parent with kids that played video games.

    • Carole Keller and Vanimal46 like this

 

Yeah, I wonder if we'd get the same comments about distractions if he was spending his free time reading classic literature, or volunteering with orphans?

As an able minded adult, I'm going to go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt that he can manage his work and free times until he shows otherwise.

 

I think some of it has to do with the stigma video games have with people born before, say.. 1970.

    • DaveW and PseudoSABR like this

 

We would. Some fans believe that athletes should be doing athlete stuff 24 x 7, or they don't really CARE. 

 

Most people who get paid what athletes get paid work closer to 24x7 than most of us could handle.

 

Baseball has a hell of a lot of down time associated with it.What he does outside of the clubhouse is his own deal.In the clubhouse there should be no gaming even if only to foster people talking to each other....

 

 

Yeah, I wonder if we'd get the same comments about distractions if he was spending his free time reading classic literature, or volunteering with orphans?

 

We would. One only needs to look back to a certain Vikings punter who started miffing punts while being outspoken online for a certain social cause.

 

I think some of it has to do with the stigma video games have with people born before, say.. 1970.

I was born well before 1970, but have suffered the next day when I stayed up late to complete "just one more level."

 

No one is saying that video games are inherently bad or that they will definitely affect Trevor May. The concern is that it is possible that they might affect his performance if he is not careful. Also, my point was that he could become a great player, but that will depend on how hard he works, and video games are part of a larger equation.

Some people binge watch tv. some people can't put a book down. Some people drink too much. Some people stay out too late. Some one does everything/anything to excess.

 

Fans and boards are notorious for expecting athletes to be athletes 100% of the time, and not humans.

    • Carole Keller, DaveW, TheLeviathan and 3 others like this

If he plays MLB the Show and only chooses himself as the starting pitcher, isn't he doing DOUBLE the work that others are doing? His dedication is off the charts! 

    • Carole Keller, Steve Lein, glunn and 4 others like this

I think some of it has to do with the stigma video games have with people born before, say.. 1970.

Perhaps it's not wise to stereotype people unless you want it done for people born after 1970.....

Now that he tore his UCL he will have plenty of time to play video games.

Perhaps it's not wise to stereotype people unless you want it done for people born after 1970.....


I'll generalize this to it's not wise to stereotype people at all.
    • Carole Keller and IndyTwinsFan like this
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Carole Keller
Mar 11 2017 11:21 AM

 

Now that he tore his UCL he will have plenty of time to play video games.

Uh, maybe not if any kind of surgery and/or therapy doesn't involve repetitive motion stress risks.

    • HitInAPinch likes this

 

Uh, maybe not if any kind of surgery and/or therapy doesn't involve repetitive motion stress risks.

 

Normal, painless mobility comes back quickly after such surgeries, a matter of weeks. Tossing at 80-90 MPH takes a year, not usage of the arm.

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Carole Keller
Mar 11 2017 11:32 AM

 

Normal, painless mobility comes back quickly after such surgeries, a matter of weeks. Tossing at 80-90 MPH takes a year, not usage of the arm.

My point is ... repetive motion stress is a consideration in recovery ... as one who is dealing and has dealt with various hand, arm, elbow, shoulder issues, I can attest to how the simplest of activities can exacerbate any issue ... from continued video game play, to smart phone and ipad use, to sitting at a desk all day long, extended computer use, etc.

 

We are all different and our bodies handle any kind of various physical activity, even of the passive kind, differently. It's a matter of being aware of response.

    • HitInAPinch likes this

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