Boston

Billy Beane is Reportedly Finally Coming to Work at Fenway…to Build John Henry’s Soccer Empire

NBCSports – Per reports in the Wall Street Journal and Axios, Henry’s Fenway Sports Group — which includes not only the Red Sox, but Liverpool, Roush Racing, and stakes in other sports ventures — is negotiating to sell a stake of 20-25 percent to Redball Acquisition Corp., which Beane co-chairs. That portion of the club would then be taken public.

The shocking part is Beane’s reported role. Because he cannot maintain financial relationships with two MLB teams — he retains a small ownership stake in the A’s while continuing to oversee their baseball operations — he’d have to leave Oakland. But his plan isn’t to join Boston’s front office. Instead, he would reportedly help marshal FSG’s ventures in European soccer, where he’s already a minority owner of a Dutch team.

I’ll be honest, this is not how I expected John Henry to finally get his guy, but it seems like Billy Beane may be finally coming to work at Fenway…Sports Group. You can read the financial details at Axios, which help explain the nature of the deal better, but essentially Beane’s company Redball Acquisition is looking to buy a stake in FSG so he would be more of a partner or a chairman rather than an employee of Henry’s. Beane has been quietly building a sports empire since Michael Lewis profiled him and the A’s in the era defining Moneyball. Beane currently chairs the Redball company, has an ownership stake in the A’s along with his role running baseball ops, and even bought a Dutch soccer team so he’s not exactly looking to make a lateral move to be the GM of the Red Sox.

John Henry has lusted after Billy Beane for nearly 20 years. So much so that there was an entire scene devoted to it in the Moneyball movie where Henry is trying to lure him away from Oakland to join the Red Sox and become the highest paid GM in the league.

“Anybody who’s not tearing their team down right now and rebuilding it using your model? They’re dinosaurs.”

Now this could be disheartening to Red Sox fans, especially those of us who read Moneyball and have always daydreamed of Beane using his model and John Henry’s money to turn the Sox into the consistent behemoth they could be. But, it seems like that ship has sailed as Beane has his sights set on bigger fish. As does John Henry who, at least in the court of public opinion, seems to be drifting further and further from the Sox being his top priority. In case you’ve lost track, Henry now owns the Red Sox, Liverpool, Roush Fenway Racing, and The Boston Globe. Whether that has any real tangible effect on the day to day success of the Sox is debatable, but for a city as provincial as Boston this could actually anger a lot of fans.

What do you mean you’re bringing in the most famous brain in baseball to manage your SOCCAH TEAM??

He’s looking for Billy Beane to unleash Moneyball on the English Premier League and build Liverpool into a juggernaut.

I get it. John Henry is a guy who literally made his fortune by understanding market inequities in finance and trading “with the explicit intention of precluding not only human emotion, but also any subjective evaluation of factors outside of price behavior.” Sound familiar? He buys a couple of baseball teams (Henry owned the Marlins from 99-02) and then in the early 2000s emerges Billy Beane, a baseball GM that unlike anyone before him starts using data, analytics, and economics to build a baseball team with an AJ Wright level budget. Of course Henry was smitten. This was like a kindred spirit for him in the game of baseball. So he’s tried to lure Beane away for years with gigantic contracts, but Beane always opted to stay in Oakland. Henry even tried to snag Beane once again in 2019 before they hired Chaim Bloom.

Billy Beane has been John Henry’s white whale for nearly 20 years.

Until now.

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