FSG’s Liverpool showcase their best business

Fenway Sports Group’s other professional sports franchise, Liverpool, came to town this past weekend. With an illustrious history and already a rabid fanbase in Boston, the decision to buy the club was easy for John Henry and company. While the two teams were in similar conditions when the group bought them, FSG’s Liverpool and the Red Sox are heading in two different directions.

Similar History Between the Cities and Teams

Liverpool, one of England’s most decorated clubs, was up for sale in 2010 and was in ruinliverpool both on and off the pitch. They were sunk by fellow American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Like Red Sox ownership in the 1990s, Hicks and Gillett flirted with the idea of moving the team from the hallowed Anfield Stadium. They did not deliver, however, on the promise of a state-of-the-art waterfront home for the club. Instead, John Henry, Tom Werner and FSG built and built until Anfield became state-of-the-art itself, while also keeping the illustrious history in tact. Sound familiar?

Like the task they had with the Red Sox in 2001, FSG needed to restore a winning tradition to Liverpool. The Reds were the class of European football in the 70s and 80s, with a dynastic run envied only by the Patriots of modern times. They won every trophy imaginable. By the time FSG bought the club in 2010, Liverpool had the most league titles with 18 (since broken) and five European Cups, the most by any British club. Sticking to club tradition, ownership quickly hired one of Liverpool’s most legendary figures, Sir (or King) Kenny Dalglish to manage the team.

It is no surprise that Liverpool was already arguably the most popular Premier League club in Boston before the purchase. LFC is one of the most popular clubs in Ireland and both Liverpool and Boston have a high concentration of Irish ex-pats. Liverpool is also a famous port city and was the hub of trade for England when ships were the primary transportation. Both are proud northern cities with unmistakable accents, although Scouse might need its own dictionary. Liverpool, like Boston’s beloved Red Sox, make up half of the most intense rivalry in the Premier League going against Manchester United, the team from another northern city and owner of the most league titles in history. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

Finally, the Phoenix Landing is packed with fans on matchdays. Some big games will sell out the small Irish pub hours before kick-off. The dedicated, card-carrying members of LFC Boston make the pub the second best place to be on matchday. If you can’t be at the stadium, it’s as close as you’ll get. They also give back to the community through a litany of charity work. They provide an amazing atmosphere and put community first, adding to an already pristine fan culture in Boston.

The Massive Business Discrepancy

The surprising contrast between these two teams under this same ownership, however, has been the way they’ve done their business. In the only two major sports in the world without salary caps, neither team has to worry about money too often. The Red Sox seemingly never run out of money but LFC was in financial trouble when FSG took over. In the first transfer window under new ownership, the club showed extreme business savvy.

They sold a disgruntled Fernando Torres for a British record for 50 million pounds. To replace him, they bought two strikers, one of which was Andy Carroll, a massive disappointment and a brutal signing. The other, however, was Luis Suarez. Now one of the best strikers in the world, the club sold him for nearly three times his own transfer fee in 2014. Just three months after those buys, FSG’s Red Sox extended Adrian Gonzalez for seven years and $154 million. Oh yeah, and they signed Carl Crawford that same year to a seven year, $142 million deal. Both were run out of town in 2012 and monumental wastes of money.

Where Liverpool have made sound business decisions recently, the Red Sox once again have not. In late 2017, one of Liverpool’s best players, Philippe Coutinho, was begging for a move. While Liverpool still needed him, his value had peaked. They sold him to Barcelona for the measly price of up to 142 million pounds, 133.5 million more than they bought him for. Using that cash, Liverpool began to fill their needs. They needed defensive help, so they set the world record fee for a defender by buying Virgil van Dijk for 75 million pounds. Van Dijk solidified the defense and led Liverpool to the 2018 Champions League Final, their first in 11 years. This past season, he won the PFA Player of the Year. No defender had won the award since 2005.

Liverpool lost that final, however, due to two massive goalkeeping mistakes. So, they used the rest of that Coutinho money to set the world record fee for a goalkeeper. They bought Alisson Becker from Roma for nearly 67 million pounds. He made the save that kept them from being eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League and then had a Man of the Match performance in the final, which Liverpool won 2-0. While Coutinho bolted to Barcelona to win the Champions League, all Liverpool did was make it to the final twice and win it for the sixth time. What’s Coutinho doing now? Well the Catalans have not taken keenly to his performances. Just over 18 months with the Blaugrana and both sides are looking for a move. The most rumored target destination for him? Liverpool.

Recent Red Sox Deals Have Been Failures

In contrast, the Red Sox came off a World Series title and spent a bit themselves. Extending Xander Bogaerts was wise considering the MVP-type performance he’s turned in recently. The other moves were not as promising. Chris Sale signed a $145 million extension with Boston and has won one home game in the last 53 weeks. He has also had multiple IL stints in his two previous seasons with the Red Sox. Sale has proven he can’t hold up for a full season. With his 4-9 record this year, fans might be hoping he can’t hold up much longer.

Speaking of not holding up, was extending Nathan Eovaldi a good idea? He pitched a gutsy seven innings in a World Series game, sure. Never has a loss gained a pitcher so much money, though. A four-year, $68 million contract was agreed upon and he’s been injured since April. Eovaldi has made a home on the IL throughout his career, hence why he hasn’t been able to hold a starting job anywhere else he’s been. Yet, FSG and the Red Sox through starter money at him. Steve Pearce caught lightning in a bottle last season to win World Series MVP. The Red Sox didn’t exactly overspend on him, but that’s whom they re-signed to be their starting first baseman. Through just 29 games this year, he is hitting .180. Need I say more?

FSG Is Still Building At Liverpool

For some reason, FSG seems to work better when their financial situation is tight. They took Liverpool from financial hell back to the promised land. The Reds won the biggest trophy in club football this year. They won 97 points to finish second in the Premier League looking for their first league title in 29 years. To put that into perspective, those 97 points weren’t just the club record but also would’ve been good enough to win the league 117 times out of the last 119. The only years it wouldn’t were this season and last with Manchester City tallying up 198 in that timespan.

Liverpool is by far the most popular and the most relatable Premier League club in Boston. While ownerships has its flaws, those have seemed to glare more stateside rather than Merseyside. While the Red Sox continue to dwindle out of the playoff picture, FSG will look to work their magic again and end another historic drought. Next season, Liverpool will go for their first league title in 30 years, and they have built the team that can make us dream again.

Pumpsie Green Leaves Lasting Legacy

 Elijah “Pumpsie” Green’s Baseball-reference page won’t garner any special attention. He won’t ever have his number on the right field facade at Fenway Park or a plaque in Cooperstown. After his death on Wednesday, however, there is something Green will always have. Pumpsie Green leaves a lasting legacy with the Boston Red Sox. 

This Sunday, July 21, will mark the 60th anniversary of Green’s major league debut. Likepumpsie green leaves the rest of his career, it was nothing special on the field. He came in to run for Vic Wertz in the eighth inning and finished the game at shortstop in a 2-1 loss to the eventual American League champion White Sox. Green had made his mark, however, as the first black player ever to play for the Red Sox.

Now often the answer to a trivia question Red Sox fans might like to forget, Green helped the Red Sox become the final MLB team to integrate. The Red Sox obviously didn’t have the most polished past when it comes to race relations. They did, in fact, pass up on Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson over a decade earlier. I don’t think it’s because they weren’t good enough. While Green’s debut came 18 months after Willie O’Ree broke the NHL color barrier for the Bruins, two other MLB teams integrated over 10 years after Jackie Robinson debuted for the Dodgers. 

Green’s contributions to the sports landscape of Boston could not have come at a better time. The aforementioned O’Ree was a pioneer with the Bruins and the Celtics were beginning to spark a dynasty with notable black stars Sam Jones and Bill Russell. With the “old town team” being the last in the city to have a black player, it represented a crucial point for Boston to move forward in race relations, although it would take some time. Suddenly, pictures in the paper of the young shortstop talking with the great Ted Williams were easing the minds of Boston baseball fans.

Pumpsie Green After Baseball

After his brief career, he served as a baseball coach and teacher in Berkeley, California for 20 years. The Red Sox honored him by having him throwing out a first pitch in 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of breaking the team’s color barrier. He threw out another first pitch on Jackie Robinson Day in 2012. To commemorate his achievement, the Red Sox enshrined him in their Hall of Fame last May. He was also honored in his adopted home of El Cerrito, California, for “distinguished stature in baseball history.”

Considering the love and adoration black sports stars in the city get today, it seems odd that a player such as Green would be the trailblazer. He played just four years in his major league career and hit a mere .246. In fact, his baseball-reference similarity score is akin to that of Blake Swihart’s. There would have still been a Jim Rice, a Pedro Martinez and a David Ortiz in a Red Sox uniform, but someone had to be the first.

What Green did was forage a relationship between black Bostonians and the city’s favorite team. Was he the greatest Red Sock of all time? No. Was he one of the most important? Yes. Even now that he is gone, the Green family and the Red Sox family can forever look back on that July afternoon at Comiskey Park and be proud. He was 85.

C. C. Sabathia’s Red Sox Criticism is Idiotic

C. C. Sabathia looks like he is limping to the finish line of his career, both literally and figuratively. Apparently, the former Cy Young winner doesn’t exactly like when teams exploit that. Sabathia’s Red Sox criticism came after a Thursday night win at Yankee Stadium. Is it warranted or just plain stupid? Well, that answer is pretty easy.

Sabathia was frustrated that the Red Sox tried to force him to field his position by bunting Sabathia's Red Sox Criticismon a regular basis. The strategy led to a throwing error by Sabathia in the first inning but not much else. He ended up going six innings while surrendering only a single run, ending his team’s losing streak. So, in the end, it really didn’t matter, did it? Apparently it did in the postgame.

Sabathia ripped the Red Sox for their bunting extravaganza. Supposedly it’s one of those many unwritten rules that nobody understands but is supposed to abide by. A similar situation happened a few years ago with an injured Matt Garza stating the same case. I can’t believe I have to explain this but I guess I do. If a guy can’t handle his position, you exploit that. Why do guys take an extra base off Jacoby Ellsbury? Because he throws like a little girl. Why did the Red Sox run all over Miguel Montero this week? Because he is physically unable to throw out a baserunner. It’s just what you do.

Sabathia’s Red Sox Criticism Reminiscent of 2004

I can’t help but be reminded of the Bloody Sock Game Six of the 2004 ALCS. A battered Curt Schilling was limping on and off the field to the Yankee Stadium mound. Schilling dominated the Yankees, only allowing one run on four hits in seven innings. New York was up in arms, pleading the Yankees to bunt. The next morning, the sports talk shows were flooded with that same question. Now, 13 years later, it’s a problem. When their guy gets exploited, it’s an issue.

If anything, Sabathia should be thanking the Red Sox. When he faces Boston, it’s like 2008 C. C. Sabathia all over again. In four starts against the Red Sox this year, he’s 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 26 innings pitched. He should be thanking them for keeping his career alive at age 37.

So, Carsten (that’s what his friends call him): Get. Over. It. We should be used to the men in pinstripes whining and making excuses by now but it’s still frustrating. Just because you share pants with Vince Wilfork doesn’t mean teams can’t find a way to get on base against you. Take that crap somewhere else. Take some advice from Jim Rice and lose a few pounds if you don’t want teams to bunt on you.

So, short answer, his criticisms are absurdly idiotic. Then again, what else should we expect?

Eduardo Nuñez Acclimating to Boston Quickly

Unlike the rival Yankees, the Red Sox did not make a splash on baseball’s trade deadline earlier in the week. Contrary to the opinion of a few, that was a good thing. Instead of a big splash, Dave Dombrowski slowly worked his way into the pool and it has paid instant dividends. With the spark from Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nuñez acclimating so well, the Red Sox may have plugged up their holes.

The weakest part of the Red Sox was clearly third base. Between Pablo Sandoval, Deven Eduardo Nuñez acclimatingMarrero, and Tzu Wei Lin brought a lack of continuity and consistent offensive production. With Xander Bogaerts’ abysmal play the last month added on top, a utility guy was needed. Dombrowski dumped a few C-rate prospects to San Francisco to acquire Eduardo Nuñez. After about a week, this has been an excellent deal.

Nuñez has come across the country, switched leagues, and has absolutely flourished. As of August 3rd, Nuñez is 11 for 22 with four doubles, two homers and nine RBI. On top of that, he has already provided some clutch plays for the Red Sox. He even won the Sox a game on a groundout. As of right now, the man can do no wrong.

Coming in as a .300 hitter before the deal, Nuñez has been having a career year. He’s also a guy who can play third base, second, and shortstop. With Dustin Pedroia now on the DL and the mighty struggles of Bogaerts, his versatility is crucial. Although he came from the Giants, he is not foreign to the American League. In fact, he’s pretty familiar with the AL East. He played his first four seasons from 2010-13 backing up Derek Jeter in New York and before this year he had only played in the AL. A learning curve of switching leagues is overrated but Nuñez has had no such problem.

Nuñez’s Impact Goes Beyond the Field

The impact Nuñez has already made on this team is already major. Even if he hits .200 the rest of the year, he may have already saved their season. He and Devers have already made an impact that transcends the field. They have woke the Red Sox up. This team was in absolute shambles before the deal was done. Since then, the hope is back. In fact, when those guys both have multi-hit games, the Red Sox have been 4-0.

So no, there was no splash made at the trade deadline. They added nice pieces in Nuñez and Addison Reed. Unlike Houston or New York, the Red Sox didn’t need to make this huge deal. They are a team built for the postseason and Nuñez just adds to that depth and can help revive their offense. It’s now up to the Red Sox to keep this going.

It’s Time To Fire John Farrell

The Red Sox need do to something. Unfortunately, all they know how to do is lose right now. At this juncture, the Red Sox are a complete embarrassment. They have put a surprising boycott on winning games and have showed the attitude of a small child off the field. The move they need to make is not this Eduardo Nunez trade, it’s to fire John Farrell.

Being totally honest, I think Farrell was a much worse game manager last year than this Fire John Farrellyear. This year, I think Dave Dombrowski has put his manager in tough situations at points. With management forcing him to have Pablo Sandoval, that limited Farrell’s options. Sandoval, however, is gone. Gone forever.

The problem really hasn’t even been his on-field decision making. He’s had a excruciatingly hard time managing his bullpen, which has been fledgeling lately. The real problem is he has lost control of his team. Whining from their veteran second baseman, throwing teammates under the bus, and your $217 million pitcher calling out a Hall of Fame broadcaster are just the highlights of a season full of BS. All this could be glossed over if they would win, but they aren’t capable of that right now.

Let it not be lost that the players have been underwhelming. It’s not just one or two players, every non-pitcher has been underwhelming. I wish that was hyperbole, but it’s not. So yeah, the players are certainly at fault. To some extent, though, a good manager should have these guys turning things around before August. Now, it might be too late.

Luckily for him, the starting pitching has been excellent. Through no support, they’ve kept their team in games. The Red Sox are the luckiest first place team I’ve ever seen. They haven’t won a series since the Fourth of July and yet everyone else in the division continues to lose. Their standing in the division is a complete mirage. For a team that keeps saying they have yet to “hit their stride”, they are running out of time.

Fire John Farrell and Others

Obviously, the problem has been the offense. If nothing else, Chili Davis should definitely be fired. In fact, he shouldn’t even be on this upcoming home stand. If they aren’t the worst offense in the league, they’re certainly the most predictable. They refuse to swing at the first two strikes and never make any adjustments. How many times do we see Jackie Bradley strike out swinging on a low change-up? How many times do we see Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts whiff on a pitch way off outside part of the plate? What coach doesn’t correct that. This offense has been nothing short of a joke, and why Davis is still here is just silly.

This team has no idea what it’s doing right now. After seemingly abandoning the third base trade, they called up their top prospect Rafael Devers. Before he could even finish his first game, they traded for a third baseman. Tuesday, the organization said they are interested in acquiring a first baseman. A first baseman? They have two of those in the majors and Sam Travis in AAA. If Travis is going to be their first baseman next year, it’s time for him to play. Moreland sucks and Hanley Ramirez refuses to play the field (and God forbid his manager make him do that). So if that’s the case, bring up Travis and play him five days a week. Is that so much to ask for?

Currently, the Boston Red Sox are in complete disarray. So yeah, it’s not exactly ideal, but you should fire Farrell. Fire Chili Davis while you’re at it. Gary DiSarcina would obviously step in to manage. Hire anyone you want for the hitting coach, just show you give a damn.  Right now, it’s hard to believe they care. No apologies for Dennis Eckersley, no repercussions for the crying infant David Price, no feel for what direction they’re going in. It’s time to light a fire under these guys and at this point, this might be the only way to do that.

Price-Eckersley Confrontation Comes To The Light

The end of June seemed like ages ago for the Boston Red Sox. They had just come off a sweep and a demolition of the Toronto Blue Jays. It was the confrontation between David Price and Dennis Eckersley that set the Red Sox on a downward spiral they have yet to break free from. Details are coming out from the Price-Eckersley confrontation, and they’re scary.

The friction arose from Eckersley commenting on one of Eduardo Rodriguez’s rehab Price-Eckersley confrontation starts. On the NESN broadcast, the stat line was flashed of Rodriguez’s putrid start in Pawtucket, to which Eckersley said “yuck.” One word. A bit out of the ordinary but not harsh considering the stats. David Price, like he often does, took offense.

In a heroic, righteous act of sticking up for his teammate, Price took matters into his own hands. As Eckersley was boarding the team plane, he saw that Price was waiting for him. What ensued was something out of a John Hughes film. Price (hardened jock in his letterman jacket and backwards cap) went right for Eckersley (nerd type who’s really into computers and is just doing what he’s told). That’s how it goes, right? Not exactly.

Instead of a nerd, Eckersley is the retired jock. In fact, he was one of the best jocks, ten times better than Price. Price goes on to mock Eckersley, sarcastically calling him “the greatest pitcher who ever lived” and saying “the game is easy for him.” When Eckersley tried to get on to his seat, Price told him to “get the f*** out of here.”

It Was Not Easy For Eckersley

I don’t even know where to start with this. Just when you thought Price couldn’t act like more of a child, he pulls this. First, I suppose I’ll start with the “easy” part. Was the game easy for Dennis Eckersley? About as easy as learning an entire Cicero oration in a day. Let’s dive in on how “easy” Eck’s career was, shall we?

Does anyone remember why he was traded to the Red Sox in the first place? It was because his wife cheated on him with one of his teammates. Anyone remember why he hardly ever does road trips? Well, he’s a recovering alcoholic who tries to avoid the temptations of the road. He has dealt with it for decades. Alcoholism is supposedly also the reason why his brother got a 40 year prison sentence for attempted murder and kidnapping. Now on his third wife, Eck has a lot of time in retirement to reflect on his “easy” career.

That’s not even the end of it. When Price made these remarks, some of his teammates began to applaud. That is the scariest part. If David Price is the clubhouse leader of this team, they are going NOWHERE. He is a child. Not a leader. He is not David Ortiz. If he is the voice of the clubhouse, the Red Sox are going in a very bad direction. Not only is Eckersley faultless here, he’s also Dennis freaking Eckersley. Furthermore, he’s not some putz like Dan Shaughnessy or Pete Abraham or even me. He played the game. As a matter of fact, he dominated it. This is the wrong guy to go after.

Red Sox Aren’t Handling The Price-Eckersley Confrontation Right

After all this, Eckersley has reportedly not received an apology from Price or the Red Sox on the matter. I’ll tell you what, this organization is painting a bad picture for itself this month. With the lackluster play on the field, no apology for Eckersley and trashing WEEI and accusing their fan base of blanket racism, it hasn’t been a charming few weeks. I am beginning to wonder just what is going on with our baseball team. This can’t stem all from David Ortiz’s retirement, right? Right?

This should be alarming for you, Red Sox fans. Price has had a good year on the mound (save Saturday’s disaster in Anaheim), but his off-the-field antics are crossing the line. If you defend this guy’s attitude, you are the poster child of the new era Boston pink hats. Not that he has said anything, but I’m also pretty sure Eduardo Rodriguez can take this criticism. So how about these guys focus less on the NESN broadcast and a little more on winning baseball games. Let’s see if that works.