Red Sox Owner John Henry in Talks With Acquisition Firm To Take Fenway Sports Group Public

Want to own a share of the Red Sox? Well, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo and Miriam Gottfried, that could become a realistic possibility relatively soon.

Per Lombardo and Gottfried, Red Sox principal owner John Henry is in preliminary talks with blank-check firm RedBall Acquisition Corp. to take Fenway Sports Group public.

The plan would be for RedBall to raise $1 billion in funds that would coincide with the $575-plus million the firm raised over the summer. With those funds, RedBall in turn would be able to purchase a stake in FSG which would be worth no more than 25% of the company.

Because talks between the two sides are still ongoing, it is worth mentioning that this deal could fall apart. If talks do not fall through, though, the Red Sox could become one of the few publicly traded American sports franchises. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers are a prime example of one.

Henry, who turned 71 last month, originally purchased the Red Sox for $660 million in February 2002. Since that time, Henry has seen his club end an 86-year championship drought and win four World Series titles.

According to Forbes, the Red Sox are currently worth $3.3 billion, while Fenway Sports Group, which includes the Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Park, and New England Sports Network, is worth a total of $6.6 billion.

FSG going public with RedBall would reportedly raise its value to approximately $8 billion including debt. For more details on this, I would recommend checking out the above tweet.

Red Sox President Sam Kennedy Admits Starting Majority of Home Games at 7:30 PM ‘Wasn’t Right Decision’

At 6-12, the Red Sox are off to a dreadful start this season and are on pace to finish the year with a 20-40 record. To make things worse for fans watching at home, the average time it has taken the Sox to complete a game this year has been 3 hours and 18 minutes, which according to Baseball Reference is the fourth-highest mark in Major League Baseball behind the Astros, Angels, and Pirates.

Lengthy games that have resulted in disappointing losses two-thirds of the time are one thing, but again, to add insult to injury, the majority of Red Sox home games this season have started at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. No other team in baseball is doing this, and some are even starting games earlier than they have in the past since attendance is not an issue for the time being.

I could go on about this issue, which you can read more about here,  but what I really found interesting was how Red Sox team president and CEO Sam Kennedy conceded on Wednesday that the late start times for night games at Fenway Park may not have been the best idea in hindsight. 

Appearing on WEEI’s Greg Hill Morning Show earlier Wednesday, Kennedy addressed the issue.

“We talk about scheduling issues each and every day,” he said. “The 7:30 experiment was designed to try and capture the largest television audience possible and given the way the team has played, given maybe the nature of the pandemic with people being home more, perhaps that wasn’t the right decision. We’ll see as we go forward here.”

When asked about moving games up in order to avoid playing at the same time as the Bruins or Celtics, Kennedy said, ” Because we play every day, it is really hard for us to adjust on the fly. We have done that in years past. But, sometimes you find yourselves in a situation like the Bruins yesterday when they were set to play late in the day and then they played at 11 o’clock in the morning given the overtime game.”

In his closing statement, Kennedy emphasized how fluid things have been in terms of scheduling since the 2020 MLB season began last month. While some teams like the Red Sox are closing in on 20 games played, other teams like the Cardinals have only played five due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their ranks.

“We’re literally in a day-to-day situation over here trying to work our way through what is a highly unusual season,” he stated. “Yes, we do talk about changes to the schedule and being flexible.”

If the Red Sox continue to fall out of contention as they are on pace to do, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for any schedule adjustments to be made, if there are any at all.

Jackie Bradley Jr. to Wear Microphone During Red Sox’ Home Opener on Friday

With no fans allowed in ballparks for at least the opening stages of the 2020 season, MLB clubs are going to try to do their part in keeping spectators attuned to what’s transpiring on the field.

The Red Sox, for instance, will be miking up players and coaches during select home games throughout the 2020 season, the club announced via a press release Thursday.

As noted in this tweet from The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. will be receiving the honors for this experience first during Friday night’s season opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park

In what could be his final Opening Day as a member of the Red Sox, it will be interesting to see what Bradley Jr. has to say with a microphone attached to his jersey collar and how often NESN utilizes his sound bites.

Given the fact that Bradley Jr. will be mic’d up in a regular season game, I can’t imagine he will be partaking in any on-field interviews with Dave O’Brien, Jerry Remy, or Dennis Eckersley, but it should still be entertaining considering the level of access the 30-year-old Gold Glover could provide to fans watching the game on television.

Speaking of in-game interviews, Bradley Jr. does have some experience being mic’d up, as he chatted with the ESPN broadcast team during a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates last year.

Red Sox Pushed Back Start Time of Night Games at Fenway Park to ‘Have Greater Prime-Time Window for NESN’

Note: This is more of a rant than anything. 

The Red Sox have moved the start of home night games this season from 7:10 p.m to 7:30 p.m. eastern time. The reason for that?

Well, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, the Red Sox pushed back the start time of their night games at Fenway Park by 20 minutes to “have a greater prime-time window for NESN.”

Even worse, as Abraham notes, the Sox “have three 7:30 p.m. [home] games on getaway days with a road game the next day.”

In addition to that, as previously mentioned in my last post, 23 of the 30 home games the Red Sox are supposed to play at Fenway Park this year will start at 7:30 p.m.

It’s only a twenty-minute difference from what we’re used to for night games, sure, but when you see clubs like the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays move up the start time of their weeknight home games to 6:40 p.m, the move by the Red Sox to push back the start time becomes even more questionable.

I mean, what is the point of doing this when you are not even going to have fans at the ballpark? What good is it to make fans wait even longer to watch the Red Sox on a weeknight when many will have to wake up early the following morning for work or school?

It’s definitely confusing, that’s for sure. Over The Monster’s Matt Collins aptly sums it all up in this tweet:

As for what’s next, maybe backlash from people on the internet can get the Red Sox to move up the start time of their night games at Fenway Park? Probably won’t happen, but a man can hope.

End rant.

UPDATE:

Red Sox’ Mitch Moreland Named 2020 Jimmy Fund Captain

Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland has been named the Jimmy Fund captain for the 2020 season, the organization announced earlier Friday.

Moreland, who has spent the past three seasons with the Red Sox and re-signed with the club in Januray, will become Jimmy Fund captain for the first time. The spot opened up when former Boston utilityman Brock Holt inked a one-year deal with the Brewers back in February.

As Jimmy Fund captain, Moreland’s responsibilities will include “attend[ing] fundraising events, visit[ing] patients and build[ing] support for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute” in addition to “encourag[ing] fans to step up to the plate and help strike out cancer by getting involved with Jimmy Fund events.”

The Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund have been charitable partners since 1953. Their relationship is probably most signified by the annual WEEI / NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, which began in 2002 and has raised millions for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Moreland took to Instagram to celebrate the announcement, writing, “Grateful for the opportunity to be a part of @thejimmyfund Thank you for giving me the role as the 2020 Captain.”

Given the current circumstances, it’s difficult to say what Moreland’s role with the Jimmy Fund will look like in 2020. Still, he was a great choice to fill the captain vacancy nonetheless.