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.”
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.