Manny Happy Returns

The Red Sox picked up an 8-6 win over the Cleveland Indians last night at Jacobs field as Manny Ramirez hit a three run homer in the eighth inning after the Indians had intentionally walked David Ortiz to get to him. Keith Foulke again looked pretty good out there, with his changeup tailing away from batters and he picked up the win in relief of Curt Schilling, who struggled a bit for the first time this season.

Jeff Horrigan looks at Manny coming to the rescue of Schilling with his eight inning home run. Chris Snow looks at “a long, sometimes unclean, but ultimately triumphant night of baseball.” Joe McDonald reports on Schilling coming up short in his bid to start the season 5-0 in his first five starts, but the Red Sox getting the win nonetheless. David Heuschkel focuses on Schilling as well as on the heat Terry Francona will likely take for leaving him in the game for so long. David Borges reports on Manny returning to his old haunts to lift the Red Sox to victory. Phil O’Neill looks at a night full of Manny moments.

You can check the Cleveland coverage in the Plain Dealer.

Gordon Edes talks to Al Nipper about the chances that his good friend decides to join the Red Sox for his final season in baseball. Nipper believes that the Red Sox have a very good chance to land the services of Clemens, and he has been pitching the idea hard to the Rocket. Garry Brown says that the Red Sox need the Rocket. Steve Buckley has a look at former Sox prospect Kelly Shoppach, now with the Indians. McDonald also has a look at Shoppach, who has room to grow with the Indians. Horrigan looks at another solid night of work for the bullpen.

Edes also looks at Schilling throwing 133 pitches last night and chiding the media in advance for the big deal they will make about it. Grabbing the bait, Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that it was “colossally dumb” to have Curt Schilling throw all those pitches on a cold April night. He says that since Schilling said the media shouldn’t blame Francona that Schilling should take the heat. Jim Donaldson says that some Red Sox players are star-kissed (Jonathan Papelbon) while others are star-crossed. (Wily Mo Pena)

Snow’s notebook looks at Kelly Shoppach, who is enjoying his time with Cleveland, even if he doesn’t get to play a whole lot behind Victor Martinez. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Terry Francona adjusting his rotation a bit, and as a result Matt Clement will pitch in Tampa for the first time since getting hit with a line drive there last summer a day earlier than originally scheduled. McDonald’s notebook has more on the rotation flip-flop. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at Jonathan Papelbon notching his ninth save of the season last night, leading the majors and tying a rookie record. Borges’ notebook has more on Shoppach. O’Neill’s notebook has more on Clement and Lenny DiNardo switching slots in the rotation.

Jerome Solomon today profiles USC safety Darnell Bing, who could be one of five Trojans taken in the first round of the NFL draft this weekend. Could he be someone that the Patriots could be interested in? Michael Parente says that the Patriots could be interested in getting a young safety to develop, but doesn’t mention Bing in his article. Solomon says Texas safety Mike Huff is a guy who should go in the top 10 and who Pat Kirwan says is the safest pick in the draft. Solomon also looks at a third defensive back, Richard Marshall of Fresno State, who is good friends with James Sanders of the Patriots.

John Tomase notes that the draft is loaded with linebackers, another area of need for the Patriots. He looks at some of the top prospects available. Chris Kennedy says that linebacker is definitely an area of need for the Patriots, who find their talented core getting up there in age. With A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter getting all the attention, Albert Breer says that a third Ohio State linebacker, Anthony Schlegel could also be a solid pick and pro and notes the attention that the Patriots have paid to him.

Tim Weisberg says that the age and health of Corey Dillon could also force the Patriots to look at running backs in the draft. He examines some of the possibilities. Tom E Curran looks at Memphis kicker Steve Gotkowski in his draft card today.

Steve Bulpett looks at Danny Ainge pondering his options for the draft. Should he add another young player, or perhaps package the draft pick in a deal for an established veteran?

Jon Couture says that the Bruins have rapidly become the region’s biggest joke.

Mark Blaudschun looks at Fox Sports already putting together their plans for airing the newly revamped Bowl Championship Series games next winter.

NESN has Red Sox/Indians at 7:00. TNT has Grizzlies/Mavs at 8:00 and Lakers/Suns at 10:30. OLN has Devils/Rangers at 7:00 and Stars/Avalanche at 9:30.

Hot Start Examined

John Molori’s Media Blitz reports that it might not be a pleasant working atmosphere over at ESPN Boston. How much of those feelings can be attributed to sour grapes, I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

Tony Massarotti has a nice feature on Jonathan Papelbon in today’s Herald. He looks at how the youngster is handling his success thus far and that he “is rapidly becoming a cult figure on a team that desperately needs one.” Chris Snow examines how much the Red Sox have missed having Coco Crisp at the top of their batting order. He compares how Crisp did in his few games to how his replacements have done since he injured his finger. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that David Ortiz did the right thing by dropping down the bunt on Sunday afternoon. He says that Ortiz proved that he is a selfless superstar more interested in winning games than padding his stats. He asserts that Ted Williams should’ve done what Ortiz did on occasion. Garry Brown notes that pitching and defense have been the keys to a strong April for the Red Sox.

Gordon Edes has a look at Kevin Youkilis, who is working out very well at his new position of first base. It is to the point that Terry Francona may be bringing in J.T. Snow late in games more to keep him involved rather than for a significant defensive upgrade. Michael Silverman notes that Youkilis has been among several stellar performances which have fueled the team’s quick start this April. Silverman charts out who has measured up and who hasn’t during this beginning stretch to the season. Joe McDonald says that in order for the Red Sox to keep pace with their quick start, they need Curt Schilling to continue his own fast pace. David Heuschkel examines Schilling’s start tonight in the context of history.

Snow’s notebook has a look at Curt Schilling trying to tie some history tonight by attempting to go 5-0 in April. He’ll try to do it against the only AL team he has not beaten as a member of the Red Sox. Silverman’s notebook has the Sox making preparations should Lenny DiNardo falter in his next start.

Jerome Solomon has a profile of Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter this morning. He says Carpenter appears to be a very good fit for the Patriots, and it doesn’t hurt that his father has known Bill Belichick for 25 years. Solomon also looks at another linebacker with ties to Belichick that the Patriots could be interested in. John Tomase looks at the defensive line prospects, an area which the Patriots might look to add some depth to in the early rounds. Dan Pires agrees that the Patriots might look to add depth on the defensive line, and says they could use another pass rushing End at that position. Chad Greenway played for former Belichick assistant Kirk Ferentz at Iowa.

Bob Ryan examines the uncertain process which is the NFL draft, in which someone can spend months studying intensely and still have no clear idea of who will go where, or which players will be stars. Michael Parente examines what options the Patriots have to replace Willie McGinest, and also looks at what smaller defensive ends are available in the draft who might be able to step into that position. Tom E Curran profiles Idaho State offensive lineman Darryn Colledge in his draft card for today. Alan Greenberg rates the defensive backs that are available in this year’s draft.

Mark Blaudschun reports on the investigation involving Reggie Bush and possible NCAA violations.

Steve Bulpett says that Al Jefferson’s mission this summer is to prove all his doubters wrong about him and his game. Mike Fine hands out a season ending report card on the 2005-2006 Celtics. Mark Murphy has a look at the eight youngsters on the Celtics roster, where they stand, and what the future could hold for each of them. Be sure to also check out a season recap from the BSMW Full Court Press crew, who look back on a building season for the green. Chad Finn also has a final look at the Celtics.

Lenny Megliola looks at the “Be a Bruin” NESN reality show, where they are holding tryouts for anyone willing to pay them $100. Three finalists will be invited to training camp in September.

NESN has Red Sox/Indians at 7:00. TNT has Wizards/Cavs at 7:00 and Kings/Spurs at 9:30. OLN has Senators/Lightning at 7:00 and Red Wings/Oilers at 10:00.

The Tangled Web of the New York Times Co and the Boston Red Sox

Check out the Red Sox Daily Links page for coverage of the Sox against the Blue Jays this weekend.

At the prompting of BSMW member Jeff, I’ve been looking at the New York Times 10-K Filing for 2005. As the member pointed out, there are a few nuggets of interesting information buried within the massive document.

I don’t pretend to be an expert analyst when it comes to business or accounting, but here were some things that seemed to be interesting.

The first area is circulation. The Times saw theirs go up a bit in 2005, while the Globe’s declined. The filing notes:

The decreases in weekday and Sunday copies sold in 2005 compared with 2004 were primarily due to a directed effort to reduce the Globe's "other paid" circulation (primarily third-party bulk sponsored copies but also hotel copies); the positive impact in 2004 of the Red Sox World Series victory; and continuing adverse effects of telemarketing legislation.

(Italics mine) So the success of the Red Sox is a significant enough factor to influence the overall circulation of the paper that they would mention it here. This also reminds us of WEEI’s recent ratings dip after the Red Sox and Patriots failed to successfully defend their championships. It would seem that again, it’s the success of the teams is just as important, if not more so, to circulation and ratings then is the personalities at the paper and station.

Another area is more complicated and involves the company’s 17% ownership stake in the club. On page 2 of the Index of the filing, when talking about the assets owned by the company:

Additionally, we own equity interests in a Canadian newsprint company and a supercalendered paper manufacturing partnership in Maine; the Discovery Times Channel ("DTC"), a digital cable television channel; New England Sports Ventures, LLC ("NESV"), which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball club (including Fenway Park and approximately 80% of New England Sports Network, the regional cable sports network that televises the Red Sox games); and Metro Boston LLC ("Metro Boston"), which publishes a free daily newspaper catering to young professionals in the Boston metropolitan area (interest acquired on March 10, 2005).

(To be clear, The New York Times Co. owns 17% of NESV. NESV is the parent company that owns the Red Sox and 80% of NESN.)

Here’s another statement from the 10-K:

We have ownership interests in one newsprint mill and one mill producing supercalendered paper, a high finish paper used in some magazines and preprinted inserts, which is a higher-value grade than newsprint (the "Forest Products Investments"), as well as in DTC, NESV and Metro Boston. These investments are accounted for under the equity method and reported in "Investments in Joint Ventures" in our Consolidated Balance Sheets. For additional information on our investments, see Note 5 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

The “equity interest” and “equity method” of the statements are what is of interest.

With permission from the reader, I’m going to use what he said on the topic:

“When a company owns less than 50% of another company, accounting rules require it to choose from one of two possible methods of accounting for that investment: the “Cost Method,” or the “Equity Method.” The general rule is that if you own between 20%-50%, you should use the Equity Method. If you own less than 20%, you should use the cost method.

I bring this up because the The New York Times Co. owns 17% of the Red Sox. Yet it accounts for its investment in the Red Sox under the Equity Method, which is a bit unusual. Under accounting rules, the Times would only account for this investment under the Equity Method if it has “the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies” of the Red Sox.

In other words, the accounting rules presume that a 17% owner would not yield significant influence. Yet the Times has concluded that, despite this presumption in the rules, its influence with the Red Sox is so clearly “significant” that it has treated its investment as an exception to the accounting rules. The cartel is alive and well…

Here is an excerpt from the actual accounting rules for the truly masochistic:”

The Board concludes that the equity method of accounting for an investment in common stock should also be followed by an investor whose investment in voting stock gives it the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies of an investee even though the investor holds 50% or less of the voting stock. Ability to exercise that influence may be indicated in several ways, such as representation on the board of directors, participation in policy making processes, material intercompany transactions, interchange of managerial personnel, or technological dependency. Another important consideration is the extent of ownership by an investor in relation to the concentration of other shareholdings, but substantial or majority ownership of the voting stock of an investee by another investor does not necessarily preclude the ability to exercise significant influence by the investor. The Board recognizes that determining the ability of an investor to exercise such influence is not always clear and applying judgment is necessary to assess the status of each investment. In order to achieve a reasonable degree of uniformity in application, the Board concludes that an investment (direct or indirect) of 20% or more of the voting stock of an investee should lead to a presumption that in the absence of evidence to the contrary an investor has the ability to exercise significant influence over an investee. Conversely, an investment of less than 20% of the voting stock of an investee should lead to a presumption that an investor does not have the ability to exercise significant influence unless such ability can be demonstrated.

Back the analysis of the reader:

“Significant influence and control are two different things. If Henry owns 52% he has control. But that doesn’t mean the NY Times or other investors don’t have significant influence.

A conspiracy theorist would point to the Times ability to give the Sox more coverage than the Yankees and Mets in a nationally published New York based paper, or the ability to direct negative coverage of the team if Henry put them on ignore, as the ability to exert significant influence (beyond that typically exerted by a 17% shareholder).

The important point is that the Times’ own view of the situation is that they exert more influence than the typical 17% investor in a typical investment does. This viewpoint has a material impact on its financial statements, and puts them at risk under the securities laws were it not a defensible position.”

Does this make Mark Jurkowitz a conspiracy theorist?

So does this have anything to do with the current Red Sox radio rights negotiations? Could The New York Times Co. be influencing the discussions one way or the other?

Well, again it would take conspiracy theorists to come up with this, but a plausible connection could be made here.

We know how the Times (Globe) feels about WEEI as evidenced by the long-standing feud between the entities. The New York Times Co. also owns a number of radio and television stations. This is how the Times describes their business strategy in this regard:

Our strategy is to build a lean, agile and disciplined organization that will invigorate growth across our existing businesses and platforms, create lines of products in key content areas across multiple mediums...

Now let’s look at an excerpt from today’s Herald article which told us that a deal between the Red Sox and Greater Media was close to fruition.

The price could hit $14 million per year. Sources say both Greater Media and Entercom, whose WEEI-AM (850) is the incumbent, have offered that much. But Entercom is said to be offering cash, while Greater Media would provide both cash and a substantial equity stake in WBOS.

This is an interesting twist. The Red Sox are apparently at least seriously considering turning down cash in order to obtain an equity stake in the radio station. A stake that would allow them to present content “across multiple mediums.” Sure, this is a business model the Sox may very well have pursued without the New York Times Co. being an investor. But you could also take the stance that the Times’ “significant influence” on the negotiations is pushing the Sox to WBOS.

Separate from this but also of interest is Jay Fitzgerald’s story in the Herald on Wednesday which had Morgan Stanley, which is a major shareholder in the New York Times Co. expressing displeasure with the company’s performance in recent years. This quote ends the article:

Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co., said he thinks Morgan Stanley's challenge won't lead to changes. Atorino said the real problem with the Times is its Globe subsidiary, which has seen dramatic advertising and circulation declines in recent months.

Media Columns From Around the Country:
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David Scott, BSMW – From the Shanty to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.

Fluto Shinzawa, Boston Globe – Seeing is believing with ESPN’s latest call.

Jim Baker, Nashua Telegraph – “The Game” happy to play without ESPN’s name in Nashua.

Andrew Neff, Bangor Daily News – Presque Isle banker earns shot at poker payday.

Richard Sandomir, New York Times – NBC, OLN, N.H.L. Try to Melt the Ice.

Bob Raissman, New York Daily News – No voices of reason.

Neil Best, New York Newsday – NBA not exactly must-see TV.

Phil Mushnick, New York Post – Common Sense: Booze and sex, not race or class, fueled the Duke rape case.

Andrew Marchand, New York Post – Lucas will audible for SNY.

Michael McCarthy, USA Today – ESPN, NFL Network upping ante for draft.

Michael Hiestand, USA Today – Breen gets top NBA assignment.

Barry Jackson, Miami Herald – ESPN gives Heat-Bulls opener ‘full circle’ coverage.

Dave Darling, Orlando Sentinel – NBA, NHL begin 2nd seasons.

Roger Brown, Cleveland Plain Dealer – Browns-Steelers ‘thrills’ NFL Network.

Chris Zelkovich, Toronto Star – Broadcast partners make strange bedfellows.

Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News – NBA needs L.A. cooperation.

Larry Stewart, Los Angeles Times – NFL Network Pursues Gumbel, Collinsworth.

Also Stewart – Unlike `Bonds’ Series, This Show Fit for King.

Jay Posner, San Diego Union Tribune – Fans likely losers in MWC package.

Other notes:

I’m not sure how many more times I can stand a caller to WEEI stating “They should send Wily Mo Pena to Pawtucket instead of Adam Stern” and then having the host inform them that Pena has no options left and therefore cannot be sent to Pawtucket. It puts a dent in the whole “most intelligent fans in the country” argument.

Times like this is when I need to calm down and remind myself that talk show callers are usually not at all representative of the general fandom.

Speaking of Wily Mo, it seems that he has replaced Edgar Renteria as the whipping boy of the sports radio world. The airwaves have been dominated with endless criticism of Pena and the deal that sent Bronson Arroyo to the Reds to acquire him. I don’t quite get it. Why the love for Bronson Arroyo?

Have a great weekend…