Tag Archives: Red Sox

Cy Young approved this message

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Statue of Cy Young at Northeastern University. The Red Sox used to play on land that is now part of the Northeastern campus, and hosted several World Series here. Looks like Cy was ready to go if Koji faltered.

We are alive

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It was 5-0. I was giving serious consideration to throwing in the towel. I started dozing on the couch. If the cat hadn’t been sitting next to me, I’m sure I would have gone horizontal and achieved complete unconsciousness — and thus I would have missed one of the great comebacks in Red Sox history.

There were many heroes (none bigger than David Ortiz, of course) and goats in this one. But how amazing is it that the Sox might not have won if Jose Iglesias hadn’t made that error in the ninth? Yes, Prince Fielder should have snagged it, but Iglesias shouldn’t have thrown it in the first place.

Before the series I had picked Detroit in six, mainly on the strength of their overwhelming starting pitching. By the seventh inning I was starting to wonder about a sweep. Now? Go Sox!

Some pressing questions for John Henry

Boston Globe InstagramThis commentary was published earlier at The Huffington Post and at WGBH News .

The speculation had been building since Wednesday, when The Boston Globe reported that Red Sox principal owner John Henry had restructured his bid to buy the paper.

It reached a peak on Friday afternoon, when legendary baseball reporter Peter Gammons — himself a Globe alumnus — posted a one-line item on his new website, Gammons Daily: “A source says the New York Times Corporation has chosen John Henry as the new owner of the Boston Globe.”

Confirmation came early today, as the Globe and The New York Times each reported that Henry had purchased the Globe and its associated properties — most prominently Boston.com and the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester — for $70 million. The Globe’s story led page one, whereas the Times’ version apparently didn’t even make it into today’s print edition.

The sale price represents a huge comedown from 1993, when the Times Co. purchased the Globe for $1.1 billion, half the company’s stock-market valuation at that time. As if by way of justification, the Times’ report on the Henry deal runs through several other pennies-on-the-dollar sales of major metropolitan newspapers in recent years, including those of Philadelphia’s daily papers, the Inquirer and the Daily News, as well as The Tampa Tribune.

Henry’s winning bid also thwarts an attempted comeback by members of the Taylor family, who owned the Globe almost from its founding in 1872 until the 1993 sale.

Among the would-be buyers was a group that included Stephen Taylor, a former executive vice president of the Globe, and Benjamin Taylor, a former publisher. A lot of people in Boston were rooting for the Taylors. But the money they got for selling the paper 20 years ago was split among dozens of family members, and their bid to repurchase the Globe was widely viewed as undercapitalized. You have to assume that if they had the money, the Times Co. would have sold it to them already — or in 2009, when the Globe was first put up for sale.

The ascension of a wealthy local owner may represent the best possible outcome for the Globe. Nevertheless there are questions Henry will have to answer soon — starting with the fate of publisher Christopher Mayer and editor Brian McGrory, well-liked Globe veterans who generally get high marks for the way they’re running the paper. Will they stay? Or will Henry bring in his own people?

Here are a few other questions for Henry.

1. Will he seek to improve the Globe’s bottom line by investing — or by cutting? Unlike newspaper owners who’ve financed their acquisition by taking on debt that they then have to pay off by slashing the newsroom, Henry has the luxury of being able to do anything he wants.

Although paid print circulation and advertising revenue have been dropping, the Globe is believed to be marginally profitable — a considerable improvement over 2009, when the Times Co. actually threatened to close the paper over mounting losses. The Globe today also has about 360 full-time editorial employees. That’s quite a drop from the 550 or so the Globe employed a dozen years ago, as my WGBH colleague Adam Reilly recently reported in Boston magazine, but it’s still enough to make the paper by far the largest news organization in Eastern Massachusetts. The Globe may no longer be the 800-pound gorilla, but a 600-pound gorilla can still accomplish a lot.

My guess (and hope) is that Henry will pursue a growth strategy, and that he has a healthy enough ego to believe he can succeed where others have failed. Perhaps he’ll emulate Aaron Kushner, the young greeting-card executive (and onetime Globe bidder) who’s attracted attention with his attempts to turn around the Orange County Register by hiring journalists and expanding coverage.

One aspect of Kushner’s stewardship I hope Henry doesn’t emulate is Kushner’s emphasis on print. The Globe has taken an innovative approach to the Internet with its two-website strategy (Boston.com, which is free, exists alongside the paid BostonGlobe.com site), a streaming music station, RadioBDC, and online coverage of Boston’s suburbs, neighborhoods and colleges through its Your Town and Your Campus sites. (Disclosure: Our students at Northeastern University contribute to Your Town and Your Campus as well as to other parts of the Globe.)

Henry could be a hero to the newspaper business if he can figure out new digital strategies. A print-first orientation would be a major step backwards.

2. What happens to the Globe’s Boston headquarters? The Globe occupies prime Dorchester real estate near the University of Massachusetts and the JFK Library, leading to considerable speculation that the next owner might want to sell the property and move the paper. Indeed, the Globe’s land and physical assets might be worth the $70 million purchase price all by themselves.

The challenge is that the Globe’s massive printing presses would have to be moved. And the paper has been able to build a nice business for itself by printing a number of other papers, including the city’s second daily, the Boston Herald, as well as some suburban papers.

Still, it would make all kinds of sense to move the presses to a low-cost exurban location and transfer the newsroom and business operations to a smaller space closer to the downtown.

3. How will the Globe cover the Red Sox? The jokes have already started (yes, I’ve done my best to help) about Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy, a notoriously negative presence who wrote former Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s trash-and-burn memoir Francona: The Red Sox Years, which is highly critical of the Red Sox’ ownership.

In fact, the Globe and the Red Sox have been down this road before. Until a few years ago, the Times Co. was a part-owner of New England Sports Network (NESN), which broadcasts Red Sox and Bruins games and whose majority owner is the Red Sox. Henry’s sole ownership of the Globe, though, would represent full immersion in a way that the NESN deal did not.

The real issue is not how the Globe covers the Red Sox as a baseball team but rather how it manages the tricky task of reporting on a major business and civic organization that’s run by the paper’s new owner.

Earlier this year the Globe published a tough report on a sweetheart licensing deal the Red Sox have with the city to use the streets around Fenway Park before games — making “tens of millions of dollars” while “paying a tiny fraction in licensing fees.” (Further disclosure: Some of the Globe’s reporting was done in partnership with Northeastern’s Initiative for Investigative Reporting.)

I’d expect to see tough scrutiny of how the Globe covers the Red Sox in the months and years ahead. No doubt the Herald and other rival news organizations will pay close attention to the relationship. The problem isn’t so much that the Globe is likely to go into the tank for the Red Sox (it isn’t), but that it’s really in a no-win situation.

The answers to those and other questions will emerge in the weeks and months ahead. What matters today is that our largest and most important news organization has been purchased by a local businessman with deep pockets and a track record as a good corporate citizen. That’s good news not just for the Globe, but for all of us.

Photo (cc) by Dan Kennedy.

How’s that trade working out? (XX)

The story isn’t online, but here’s a teaser from the new issue of Sports Illustrated:

STILL KICKIN’ IT

He was once the unlikeliest of idiots in a band of heroes that made history. Nearly a decade later, Bronson Arroyo is still standing, still chilling to his own beat, still one of the game’s most dependable innings-eaters.

I believe Wily Mo Peña played in Japan last year. Not sure what he’s doing this year.

Why John Henry’s bid for the Globe makes sense

John Henry

John Henry

Maybe it’s because this has dragged on for such a long time, but Beth Healy’s report that Red Sox principal owner John Henry has decided to make a solo bid to buy the paper and its associated properties carries with it the ring of inevitability.

He’s got the money, which has always been the big question about local favorites Steve and Ben Taylor. If they had the cash, the New York Times Co. would have sold it to them in 2009.

Henry doesn’t have any obvious flaws, like San Diego businessman “Papa Doug” Manchester. He’s even restructured his bid — possibly at the request of the Times Co.?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Henry introduced as the next owner of the Globe sooner rather than later — possibly to be followed by an announcement that Dan Shaughnessy has accepted a job at ESPN.

Photo via Wikipedia.

A not particularly happy ending for George Scott

For any Red Sox fan who came of age in the late 1960s, the death of George Scott conjured up a lot of memories.

I got hooked in 1968, the year after their Impossible Dream season, and I remember being utterly perplexed at the horrendous slump Scott had fallen into. He finished the season batting .171 with just three home runs. Fortunately for him and the Red Sox, better times were ahead.

There are a lot of worthwhile remembrances for you to peruse, but perhaps the most disheartening is Gordon Edes’, who reports for ESPN.com that Scott ended his days unhappy over his treatment at the hands of the sport he excelled at. Edes writes:

George Scott, according to his biographer [Ron Anderson, the author of "Long Taters"], never got over the bitterness he felt over the fact that Major League Baseball, and the Red Sox in particular, never offered him a job when his playing days were over — as an instructor, a coach or a manager.

Scott was a good player and a fan favorite. Unfortunately, he enjoyed his best years after the Red Sox traded him to Milwaukee following the 1971 season, bringing him back just as career was beginning to fade. The statistics say he hit 33 homers for the Sox in 1977. My memory says he hit 31 of those homers before the All-Star break. Two years later, he’d be out of baseball.

My last George Scott memory was from the late 1990s, when he was managing the Massachusetts Mad Dogs in Lynn. I took my son to Fraser Field one night. Afterwards, we hung around for a while, hoping for an autograph, until an announcement was made that Scott wouldn’t be available. I didn’t blame him. It couldn’t have been an easy life.

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