Posts tagged with "Major League Baseball"

Amazin’: Billionaire Steven Cohen reaches deal to buy New York Mets

September 16, 2020

Billionaire hedge-fund manager Steven A. Cohen has beat out several other investors—among them, the power couple, Alex Rodriguez and Jenniifer Lopez— to reach an agreement to acquire the New York Mets from the controlling Wilpon and Katz families, the team said, in a deal that sources say is worth slightly more than $2.4 billion

The deal, which would set a new benchmark for North American sports franchise valuations, will become official only after a vote of Major League Baseball’s owners later this year.

The most expensive baseball transaction to date had been the $2.15 billion that Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter and a group of co-investors, including basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, paid for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The transaction was partly financed by a group of insurance companies associated with Guggenheim.

Should the sale for the Mets be approved, word is that Cohen will own 95% of the team, while the Wilpon and Katz families will retain a 5% stake.

“I am excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets,” Cohen, a lifelong fan of the team, said in a statement released by the Mets.

Research contact: @WSJ

A-Rod and J-Lo retain JPMorgan to raise money for Mets bid

April 22, 2020

After 22 years as a major league player—and nearly four years in retirement—baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez has decided he wants to be back in the game.

He and his fiancé, recording artist and actor Jennifer Lopez, have retained JPMorgan Chase to raise capital for a possible bid on the New York Mets, people familiar with the matter told Variety exclusively this week. .

The celebrity couple is working with Managing Director Eric Menell, the bank’s co-head of North American media investment banking, said the sources, who were granted anonymity because the matter is private. Menell didn’t respond to several requests seeking comment.

Representatives for Rodriguez and Lopez did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Wilpon family, which owns the Mets, said in December they were in talks to sell up to 80% of the Major League Baseball team to hedge fund titan Steve Cohen in a deal that valued the club at $2.6 billion. Under terms of that proposed deal, the Wilpons would’ve maintained control of the franchise for five years.

Negotiations fell apart after Cohen sought to amend the terms. Since then, the Mets have retained Allen & Co.’s Steve Greenberg to oversee the sale process.

According to the Variety report, it isn’t uncommon for an athlete, entertainer or celebrity to hold a limited position in a professional sports team. A-Rod’s former teammate, Derek Jeter, for instance, is a part owner of baseball’s Miami Marlins. The team’s managing partner is venture capitalist Bruce Sherman; while Jeter, who owns about 4% of the club, runs business and baseball operations. Jeter contributed about $25 million to the purchase of the team, which was sold for $1.2 billion.

A-Rod and J-Lo, as the recording artist is known, would similarly require deep-pocketed partners in order to pull off the purchase. Their combined net worth is about $700 million.

As a player, A-Rod entertained signing with the Mets as a free agent in 2000. He ultimately signed a record 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers. He was then traded to the Yankees, where he won a World Series.

J-Lo is from the Bronx, home of the Yankees.

Unlike with Cohen, no preconditions regarding control of the team will be attached to the sale. Cohen holds an 8% stake in the Mets.

The Wilpons assumed control of the franchise in 2002 at a valuation of $391 million. Whoever buys the team will assume annual losses of at least $50 million, Variety said.

Research contact: @Variety

MLB employees to participate in COVID-19 antibody study

April 16, 2020

About 10,000 employees from 27 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams are being tested to detect whether they already have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

The test is being coordinated by three major organizations that wanted to help combat COVID-19:

So they teamed up—and the result will be the most thorough COVID-19 antibody study in the United States, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The data will enable researchers to “know how far along we are in the epidemic and how dangerous getting the virus actually is,” Dr. Bhattacharya told the news outlet.

Public health experts and authorities are eager for the rollout of these blood tests, also called serology tests, to better understand who has already been infected with the novel coronavirus and how far the virus has spread. The tests look for specific antibodies in a person’s blood, which develop after a person has been infected.

The antibody tests are different from the diagnostic tests being used to determine whether a patient actively has the virus in his or her system and are not redirected from front-line testing programs.

The doctors involved said that a study of this nature typically would take a year or more to complete. With MLB’s help, the process is already near its conclusion after about a month of operation. Pinprick blood tests, to be self-administered by employees at their homes, generate a result within 10 minutes and should be completed by the end of the week. Dr. Bhattacharya said he plans to write a paper over the weekend and send it out for peer review.

“If you don’t know how far along the disease is we can’t do good forecasts,” Dr. Bhattacharya said. “If we can’t do forecasts we can’t understand when it’s safe to open up the economy.”

The researchers are quick to point out that this study will not necessarily allow MLB to resume its season any faster. “As best as I can tell, they’re not in this just to help their athletes,” Dr. Bhattacharya said. “They want to do public health good.”

Research contact: @WSJ

MLB’s revised drug policy would essentially make weed legal throughout baseball

December 11, 2019

Some players would say that it’s high time: At their winter meeting on December 9, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association reportedly agreed to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers.

The agreement is set to be a part of a wider deal involving opioid use in baseball, The Athletic reported December 9, according to Fox Business News. Major league players already are not being subjected to marijuana tests, which means pot would essentially be legalized throughout professional baseball.

Minor league baseball players had previously been subjected to a 25-game suspension for the first positive marijuana test; 50 games for the second positive test; 100 games for the third positive test; and a lifetime ban for a fourth positive test.

Indeed, Fox News notes, Major League Baseball’s policy is becoming similar to that of the National Hockey League. The NHL doesn’t punish players who test positive for marijuana but would recommend treatment if a player has “abnormally high levels” of THC in his system.

In the NFL, a player who tests positive for weed the first time enters a substance abuse program. After the second positive result, he gets fined two game checks; and its four game checks after the third positive test. After the fourth, a player gets a four-game suspension; and after the fifth, a 10-game suspension. A player who tests positive for marijuana a sixth time—and it’s hard to believe that a player would continue to smoke marijuana at this point—gets a one-year suspension.

NBA players are subjected to four random tests during the regular season. A player who tests positive the first time enters a substance abuse program,; on the second, he gets a $25,000 fine, on the third positive test, he gets a five-game suspension; and five more games for each subsequent positive test.

MLB and the MLBPA are working on changes to the drug policy in the months after Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs‘ death. Skaggs was found to have two different opioids in his system when he was found dead at a Texas hotel on July 1 prior to an Angels’ game against the Texas Rangers.

Under new the bylaws, players would not be suspended for opioid use but would be placed into a treatment program instead.

MLB and the MLBPA have not finalized their new drug agreement yet. MLBPA head Tony Clark said recently he was optimistic the two sides can agree on the new policy by the end of 2019.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

Baseball fans will devour 18.3 million hot dogs at U.S. ballparks this season

March 29, 2019

It’s doggone impressive: Major League Baseball (MLB) fans are expected to consume about 18 million hot dogs and nearly 4 million sausages at U.S. stadiums this season, according to findings of a survey fielded by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) just in time for opening day.

“It’s easy to see why hot dogs and sausages have been stadium staples since the very beginnings of Major League Baseball itself,” said NHDSC President Eric Mittenthal. “They are delicious, convenient and nostalgic. What would America’s pastime be without these most American of foods?”

While it might not take the sting out of two straight World Series losses, the Los Angeles Dodgers will still top the big leagues, wiener-wise, with projected sales of 2.7 million hot dogs at Dodger Stadium.

The Chicago Cubs are expected to place second, with 1.2 million hot dogs waiting to be consumed at Wrigley Field.

The Dodgers’ rivals up the coast could be a shoo-in for this year’s sausage crow: San Francisco Giants fans are expected to “polish” off 450,000 sausages, with Cubs fans not far behind at 400,000. As in past years, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park is the sole MLB venue where sausage sales will outpace hot dogs.

And while they might not make the top rankings for gluttony, New York Yankees fans eat about 1 million Nathan’s Famous hot dogs per season—which still qualifies them for the big leagues

Research contact: emittenthal@meatinstitute.org

Getting into DAZN: Former ESPN boss builds new global sports network

November 19, 2018

John Skipper, who resigned as head of the ESPN sports network late last year, is back—and is looking to build a new global media giant covering professional fighting and team athletics, Axios reported on November 16.

His new company, DAZN (pronounced “Da-Zone”) which charges $9.99 a month for membership now, already has contracts for “over 100 fight nights a year, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage.” The events will include boxing and mixed martial arts.

Globally, the company already has made inroads in some major markets, including Japan, Italy, and Germany. The company won’t say how many subscribers it has overall, but it has more than 1 million in Japan, thanks in large part to a deal with a telecom firm there.

What’s more, Axios reports, Skipper just announced a deal with Major League Baseball, Axios reports, that will allow the network “to show live look-ins throughout its prime-time programming” within the United States.

But it won’t be easy for DAZN to make its mark in an already-saturated U.S. market. “We understand we are coming in as the upstart into a very crowded, very good market,” Skipper told Axios. “We think we will actually punch above our weight.”

Indeed, Axios noted, Skipper not only will need to excel against ESPN’s many cable channels—but also its ESPN+ over-the-top service as well as the many other over-the-top services, including those run by each of the big league sports.

Skipper, who left ESPN under duress, following an extortion attempt related to his cocaine use, told Axios that he is now in a better place, both personally and professionally.

“Change can be a good thing, however inelegantly it may occur,” he said. “I happen to be very happy where I am working. I am very happy with my personal life.”

Research contact: ina@axios.com