The Red Sox' owner is poised to buy Liverpool F.C.

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Liverpool FC of the English Premier League has agreed to be purchased by New England Sports Ventures, better known as the parent company of the Boston Red Sox. I’m going to refer to this as the Red Sox buying into the EPL, however, because it’s simpler and makes the story more interesting to me even if it’s arguably misleading. You want accurate news? Listen to NPR.

Anyway, you may recall that Liverpool is the club owned by former Rangers owner Tom Hicks. You may also recall that Hicks’ ventures into EPL ownership have been an utter disaster. It’s been claimed that Hicks’ adventures in English soccer had nothing to do with his problems with the Rangers, but even if you believe that, such adventures were evidence of some serious mission creep on Hicks’ part.  You’d think that, based on his experiences, any other American baseball mogul/soccer novice would stay the hell away from the EPL.

But based on the linked story anyway, it may not be a bad move for the Red Sox. Seems that if the deal goes through they’d be getting the club for the price of the outstanding debt. Which, while still a lot of money, is way, way less than other EPL teams have gone for, and what Hicks reportedly wants for the team.

Which is also what may sink the deal. Hicks, the majority shareholder, is reportedly unhappy with the cut rate price to which the board has agreed.  I know even less about English corporate governance than I do about soccer, but I’m not exactly sure how a board of directors can force a majority shareholder to give up his stake and, if he’s not doing so, how can one purchase a controlling interest in the team?

Oh well, that’s what lawyers are for. Or solicitors. Gosh, I hope this becomes a big story with baseball implications, because I’d love an excuse to start spelling things wrong (“Hicks won’t honour the agreement . . .”) and using phrases that my Anglophile friends use like “full stop” and “bloody.”

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.