When Guggenheim and Company overpaid for the Dodgers, fans were ecstatic that Frank McCourt was out and now the team was free to spend and buy whatever they wanted because they would soon be getting a huge TV contract that would give the Dodgers more power than any other team in baseball.

I think I was the lone voice saying “be careful what you wish for!”  Boys and girls, it’s time for a little I told you so!

Yesterday there wee a couple of articles that deal with the fallout of the new Dodgers TV deal.  Matthew Futterman wrote and article for The Wall Street Journal entitled Pay TV Balks at Price of Dodgers.  In part he states:

The network wants pay-TV distributors to fork over the highest-ever carriage fee for a regional sports channel of its kind, with a monthly charge per subscriber beginning at more than $4 and likely escalating to over $5 in coming years, according to people familiar with the situation.

SportsNet LA is available on cable operator Time Warner Cable Inc., which was involved in the formation of the network through an $8.3 billion media-rights deal. No other major pay-TV distributor serving the region has agreed to carry it.

Armed with information about their customers’ viewing habits, other distributors say the data doesn’t support paying such a high price for a channel that an overwhelming majority of their subscribers won’t watch regularly. They say they aren’t worried about backlash from customers if the channel isn’t available, and they show no signs of blinking as the Dodgers prepare to open the season in Australia on March 22.

According to research by pay-TV companies, fans tend to check in on their local baseball teams in the weeks following Opening Day, but then don’t become intensely interested again until midsummer, and then only if the team is in contention.

As the Dodgers got richer, the fans started getting screwed.  And you thought you were getting shafted by Frank – at least you could watch them lose.  I predict that there will be a huge shakeup in this country’s cable network makeup in the next few years and that companies like Time Warner will experience some huge losses.

Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press was a little more pointed in his article “Bill for the Dodgers is about ready to come due:”

Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers applauded as the team was sold for $2 billion, and cheered with each expensive new addition.

Now the bill is coming due. And guess who is going to pay the price?

Actually, you don’t need to guess. The way baseball finds ways to separate fans from their money knows no bounds.

New stadiums funded by taxpayers are pretty much standard across the country. So are $11 beers and $15 sandwiches for those who can afford the price of a ticket at the ballpark to begin with.

But now teams are finding ways to reach deep in the pockets of those who wouldn’t know Clayton Kershaw from Alex Rodriguez. And that could mean more than half of Dodger fans in the Los Angeles area — and countless others living elsewhere — may find themselves unable to watch their favorite team when the season begins later this month.

Maybe there will be an agreement with the other providers, but Dahlberg goes on to say:

Even if they are, what used to be seen for either free or a small fee will now cost viewers plenty. Baseball has now gotten the pay-per-view it has coveted for so long, and the best part is it’s cleverly disguised as just part of your monthly bill.

On an earnings call with analysts last month, DirecTV CEO Mike White called the fee Time Warner is asking for its Dodger Network — various reports put it between $4 and $5 a month — a “staggering increase relative to any other benchmark in Major League Baseball.”

For those who can’t bear spending the summer without Vin Scully that’s probably a fee they’re willing to pay. But sports programming is already a big chunk of everyone’s cable or satellite bill, and without a la carte pricing everyone pays. That includes people who would much rather spend the evening watching “American Idol” than the Dodgers playing the San Diego Padres.

He concludes by stating what I thought was obvious for a long time:  “The real problem, though, isn’t the business dispute between cable and satellite providers and the new networks. It’s the unending greed of Major League Baseball, which continues to sacrifice the good of the game for the money its owners can make from the game.”

Frank McCourt was a greedy, envious little man who wanted to be rich and would step on anyone to reach his goal.  Guggenheim and Company is a rich behemoth who will also step on anyone to reach their goals.  Unless things change, this could mark the start of the demise of baseball as we know it… which is why I have not enthusiastically embraced this ownership group.  Part of me is very sad!

 Baseball News:

  • I still think the Dodgers will try Gordon at the leadoff spot
  • There are the dog days, especially this year, with the trip to the Land Down Under.  I put very little stock into anything I am seeing right now.
  • Chone Figgins is lock to make the team, no matter what the Dodger writers say.
  • When  the bell rings, the Dodgers will be ready – they are just trying to get out of Spring Training healthy.
  • It will be hit and miss with me for the next few weeks – I just got back from Las Vegas, I am headed to Orlando next week and Myrtle Beach the week afterward, so I’ll post when I can!

worlds-best

 

  1. Michael says:

    Being a remote viewer, I live in Utah, I have always had to purchase a baseball package to watch the games. In years past have the locals received Dodger games for free or have they had to purchase a baseball package[either PC or TV]to follow the team? I’ve also gotten the impression that Angelinos are blacked out if they simply purchase a package. I would appreciate any clarification from the locals in the viewing area.

    I would like to see a grass root effort to force these TV distributers to let us pay for what we want to watch instead of force feeding us what they want us to watch. 225 channels with nothing worth viewing is nothing. I don’t need the game show network, countless shopping channels or the soap network. I actually view about 25 channels which is about 12% of whats available to me.

    Heaven help us

  2. Roger Dodger says:

    I grew up following the Dodger in box scores. Then, once an while, they would be on Mutual Network’s – the Game of the Day – on radio. I remember listening there to the Braves playing the Dodger when Joe Adcock hit those 4 HRs in one game against the Bums. On the radio in Tucson, Arizona.

    July 31, 1954. Here is the box score, look at the Dodgers pitchers and innings each; the hits and all . . . http://www.baseball-almanac.com/boxscore/07311954.shtml

    Then it might have been an article in the newspaper sports section; also, baseball monthly magazines. And catching the score on the late night news. Many times I would call up the radio station and asked if they had a score of the Dodger game.

    Also, collecting baseball cards (in the 1950s) and learning the faces, stats and all.

    No TV sports channels, no MLB.com — but catch the score, seek out the box score and hope for a game on the Game of the Day on radio; or sometimes the Saturday Game of the Week.

    So — I will survive today. But maybe Mark will figure something out for all of us.

  3. Idaho al says:

    I have had extra innings from Direct TV for the past 6 years. I pay approximately $150. I do get almost all of the Dodger games. That is approximately $1 per game. I have to put up with the feed from other teams sometimes. I would be happy to pay $4 or $5 a month for the Dodger channel. That would be a good savings for me. That is the main reason I have Direct TV.

    I agree with you Mark, Dee will lead off and play 2nd. He looked good yesterday. He laid down a very good bunt for a hit. He is only going to get better at bunting. Maury Wills has worked hard with him on bunting this spring. I do like Guerrero. I believe he is going to be a very good hitter. I like what they have done with their farm system. We are going to have a lot of competition for starting jobs.

  4. Badger says:

    $5 a month or $5 more a month. Either way, is that really a problem?

    The problem for me is what it costs to go to a game. It won’t likely affect the Dodgers, but it will affect baseball.

    I still say Gordon, as he currently exists, is a bad idea for leading off. And at the moment I like Turner’s bat over Figgins.

    And of course the Guugs will have us pay. What? Did you think they got where they are by being philanthropists? They are a massive conglomerate and they know how to make money. It’s all right there in the flow up charts.

  5. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    What was Guggenheim supposed to do, turn down the $8.3 billion from Time Warner? Time Warner is locked into that deal for 25 years (unless there’s an escape clause I don’t know about), so the Dodgers will be paid. And it’s not just the Dodgers who have a lucrative TV deal. If over time the value of these deals proves to be excessive, then it will likely be reflected in future deals, for everyone.

    And is anyone surprised that the fans are having to pay? The Dodgers recently jacked up season ticket prices. At some point maybe this will all reach a price point that becomes a breaking point. But is this just a baseball problem, or is it a trend throughout sports and entertainment in general?

    Right now I prefer Gordon 8th. However, I’ll guess that Mattingly and company have a better grasp of where he belongs than I do. That being the case, maybe he’ll end up at leadoff. I’ve been too busy to watch ST games, so I’m not up-to-date on Gordon’s current bunting prowess. If he’s beginning to gain traction in that area, then maybe leadoff makes sense. The fact that he’s become more patient at the plate also makes him more palatable in the leadoff spot.

  6. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Oh, and I agree with Badger. I prefer Turner’s bat over Figgins. Guessing that there will be five bench spots, I see them now as:

    1. Our 4th outfielder among Ethier, Kemp, Puig and Crawford.

    2. Backup catcher.

    3. Turner

    4. SVS

    5. Figgins

    I’m doing this from memory, so maybe I’m forgetting someone. If so, then remove Figgins and add that person I’m forgetting.

    The above assumes that Guerrero opens the season in ALBQ. If not, then he replaces Figgins on that list. If there’s a platoon at 2B, then Turner and Figgins above, become Turner/Gordon or Figgins/Gordon.

  7. Roger Dodger says:

    Who knows . . . for the very near future . . . either Guerrero or Gordon can learn to play 3B and slowly take over for Uribe.

    And others that might come along could change that . . . but 3B has been a problem for decades.

  8. Bobbie17 says:

    If this team is as bad as it looks now ,no one will want to watch anyway. I can’t believe how the Dodgers appear to dismiss spring training every year. Sure, the games don’t count, but they kinda do count. I look at the Giants and see they win in spring AND during the regular season(not last year). It is never too early to start winning… and keep winning. I look for 0-2 to start the season. Shades of early 2013? Why not play .500 ball in the Spring? That doesn’t seem too much to ask. The team approaches spring training as a joke, and it plays like it. You all think they can just turn on the switch? It is not that easy, especially when the other teams want to beat your brains out…across the board. I wouldn’t worry about spending more money to watch this brand of Dodgers. It ain’t worth it.

  9. SpokaneBob says:

    Idaho Al,

    I have also had Extra Innings for years. We have the mlb option for a little less, but I like the HD on my flat screen and the fact that I can record the game if I am at work and watch when I get home. I would much prefer the Dodger network if and when I could get it. We pay $12.00 a month for HBO! I would certainly pay that for 24/7 Dodgers. We do have Comcast cable in our area so if and when the merger goes through it will probably be offered by Comcast. One way or the other I will get the games because outside of my family, the Dodgers have always been at the center of my life. SportnetLA represents an opportunity for cable and satellite providers to make money so I believe at some point it will be made available to Dodger fans nationwide. Dahlberg doesn’t even sound like a baseball fan.

    As far as the state of the Dodgers, at least the pitching, I think we are going through the dead arm phase of spring training.

    I have already made my case for Gordon to hit 8th. It would also be easier to interchange other player in the 8 spot without changing the rest of the line up.

  10. SpokaneBob says:

    Bobby,

    As Badger stated, the Freeway series will be a much better indicator of where we are. Personally, I think we have a better team than last years version.

  11. Badger says:

    I’m paying the 130 clams for mlbtv and if the signal is cleaned up I think that’s a sweet deal. If Suddenlink carried the channel I sure as heck would pay for it, even if it cost what HBO does. Like I mentioned, for me it’s 75 dollar tickets, parking, 10 dollar veggie burgers and all those periphery charges at the park I won’t pay anymore. But the Dodgers, even with the increased prices, will still draw 3.5 million.

    I’m all for Gordon winning the leadoff spot. He hasn’t done it. I really prefer Puig hitting in the middle of the order, but a .300 OBP leadoff dude does not work for me. Until further notice, Puig leads off. And I still have Guerrero on the Opening Day roster. Donnie may not, but I would. Gordon comes off the bench late inning every day.

  12. Watford Dodger says:

    B17 I’m with you on this. I’ve never been to ST and this is the first year I’ve seen it on TV & to be honest I cxnt believe what I’m watching. Why are we playing people so far down the depth chart that the commentators have no idea who they are? Why let them have a hit at all? Surely the position players or serious trialists would be better served with the extra at bats? I understand that the pitchers need to slowly build their arms up but I can’t see the point of wasting valuable game time on guys who won’t even be playing AAA. You are right about the importance of winning games as it becomes a habit. I really like the look of Rosin – surely we must DFA League and keep him. I think AJ needs a big season.

  13. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    B17, take a look at the lineups and pitching during the spring. This was yesterday’s lineup to start the game.

    Gordon – 2b Figgins – CF Ramirez – SS Uribe – 3B Ethier – LF SVS – RF Turner – 1B Fedex – C

    And not all those players finished the game. Is that going to be our lineup during most of the regular season? I don’t see Puig, Agon, Kemp, Crawford, or A.J. Ellis in that lineup.

    Pitchers yesterday were Maholm, Patterson, Rosin. Maholm is not assured a spot in the rotation when the season gets underway (might conceivably not even be on the team), Patterson will definitely not be in LA, and Rosin will likely in the minors, be it with the Dodgers or Phillies.

    The ten teams that made the playoffs in 2013 combined for a 160-165 record in spring training last year, and the team with the best record in the Cactus League, the Royals, didn’t make the playoffs.

    http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/content/20140309-signifying-nothing-why-spring-training-matters-even-less-for-these-red-sox.ece

    And every year we hear it’s the Giants Way, the Cardinals Way, the Red Sox Way, or whatever Way is the flavor of the moment.

    The Dodgers don’t dismiss spring training. They go about their business getting ready for the regular season, while at the same time giving playing time to a lot of unknowns or players with little or no chance of making the team. And yes, you can rest assured that the level of hustle and the flow of adrenaline is going to be below what it will be during the regular season. Unless, of course, you want players who are still not fully game ready physically or otherwise, to risk injury on a meaningless spring training game.

    The Dodgers may well go 0-2 on the Australia trip, or they might go 2-0 or 1-1. But you can rest assured that the players on the field will be our regulars (unless injury says otherwise), and the motivation will be several levels above what it is during spring training. And of course, that will be true for the D-Backs. I’ve been watching this game for too many years to believe that what I see in the short term is what I’ll see in the long term, or that what I see in games that don’t count is the same as what I’ll see during the regular season.

  14. Idaho al says:

    I can see Guererro making the team. Let Guererro and Gordon fight it out . Both can be a reserve and fill in at ss. I have never liked Figgins, especially after Seattle. The most difficult decisions will be the bull pen.

  15. SpokaneBob says:

    If you go to SportsnetLA.com there is an easy link to have them forward your request for your provider to carry the channel. Of course the more names they can forward the better. Whatever the channel cost is ok because in addition to being able to see all the games, I feel like I am supporting the Dodgers at the same time. I will just pretend that my monthly contribution helps pay Claytons salary.

    I bet this time next year the channel will be carried by many providers.

  16. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Didn’t see the game, and of course, the Dodgers website doesn’t show a video of Puig’s throw. Hopefully it’s just the normal regression that often occurs in these situations, and that over time he will cut down and mostly eliminate that stuff.

    Meanwhile, nice play by Justin Turner at 3B. I’m beginning to understand why Ron Darling couldn’t understand why the Mets didn’t offer him a contract.

    Miguel Rojas continuing to hit. Up to .409. Of course, this is spring training, and I just can’t take those numbers seriously. If Guerrero and Arruebarrena start at 2nd and SS at ALBQ., then Rojas is probably headed to Chattanooga. If he continues to hit down there, and fields commensurate with his reputation, maybe he gets a call later in the year should the need arise.

    Of course, Guerrero could open the season with the Dodgers, but I suspect he still might open at ALBQ. if only because the Dodgers would probably feel comfortable with Justin Turner platooning with Gordon while Guerrero gets some more time at 2B on an everyday basis. But if Guerrero hits, whether he opens with the Dodgers or not, it won’t be long before he’s in LA.

  17. Badger says:

    I didn’t see both of Rojas’ hits but one of them was a check swing duck snort double over the first baseman’s head. He might get a job somewhere in the minors but he does not appear to be a Major League hitter.

  18. SpokaneBob says:

    The second knock was also hit down the right field line, but with more authority. He also had the speed to turn both hits into doubles. He made some nice plays in the field as well. I believe he is part of the effort to give the organization more depth in the middle infield positions.

  19. Roger Dodger says:

    Interesting how Spring Training goes.

    Cleveland is 12-2. Out of sight.

    Seattle is 13-4, not bad for not have one more big bat.

    Miami is 10-4.

    Giants are 10-5

    Dodgers are playing at 5-9.

    It is all S.T. — but those Indians are doing something right in getting ready for the season.

  20. Badger says:

    7 years in the minors Rojas hit .234. If I were in Dodgers management I would be looking for a different kind of depth. But that’s just me. At the present time he looks like a 25 year old AA player.

  21. Bob says:

    Is the spring training TV schedule ruined because of the Dodgers or Time Warner or both?

    This spring is strange in other ways. The Dodgers appear to not be mentally reading, their record is bad, and players continue to get injured in strange ways.

    Speaking of injuries, why did Crawford’s hamstring take so long to heal last year? Wrong rehab program? Such as Expected birth date = 3/17/2014, average gestation period = 40 weeks. Estimated fertility date 6/13/2013. DL last year June 6/02/2013 through 7/5/2013. Just Sayin.

    The Dodgers ST 2014 record is bad but the relievers have been even worse bad. Not he ones who will make the 25 man roster but the scrubs. The SV to SVO stats are 5 saves in 13 opportunities and of the 8 pitchers who have had opportunities only 4 have a save and the only person who had an opportunity to save a game and might make the 25 man roster is Rosin. All of the rest of the “closers” were scrubs. Therefore the record does not mean much. However, the overall Dodger performance is still bad for a team expected to get to the WS.

  22. Badger says:

    Screw win loss in ST. I think most teams, and most players, target April as start of season date. That is still a couple weeks out. A lot can be accomplished in two weeks. That Australia thing is just weird. You want to promote baseball down there do what they usta did years ago. Send teams there in the winter. I got a bad feeling about that trip.

    Interesting theory Bob. Masters and Johnson may have your answer.

  23. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I have the same bad feelings about the trip, and hope it’s just my irrational imagination. At least bad things could happen to the D-Backs just as easily as the Dodgers. And all these little strange injuries aren’t helping my mental state. I think it all comes back to my belief that the Dodgers success or lack thereof during the upcoming season will depend upon health, health, health, …. The injuries set against the backdrop of a short spring training do have me a bit on edge. But since the injured players we do have (Greinke, Beckett, Kemp, and anyone else I’m not thinking of) won’t actually be on the trip, maybe everything will work out for the good.

    Feels like we’re opening the season with a doubleheader, since both games are on March 22nd in the U.S. And by this time next week the first of those two games will be over, and the season will be underway (even if interrupted by 8-days, including the exhibition Freeway Series).

    As that great sage Badger kept saying all last season, I am confident.

  24. SpokaneBob says:

    I had not said anything but I have also had thoughts about bad things happening on the trip. Hope it is just an active imagination and not a premonition.

    If Goldie got eaten by a great white I would feel bad.

  25. Bigblue says:

    I didn’t have to worry about not having Time Warner cable today since I am in Arizona for 3 days. A couple interesting observations from camp today. First, after batting practice and after all the Dodger players left the field (along with most fans)I saw Ned pull Alex Guerrero aside and speak with him (through the interpreter) speak to Alex for about 10 minutes. Alex became pretty animated at one point in the conversation. They shook hands in the end, but by the looks of Alex’s body language, I believe he was told he would not break camp with the big league club.

    Second, I saw Matt Kemp play on the minor league fields. He went 1-2 with a line drive to left and a fly ball to right. He seemed to run the bases without any problems. He also played CF and only had to go after one ball scorched over his head. By the look of Matt’s body language and signing autographs afterward I would say he likely felt good after playing the two inning scrimmage.

  26. Badger says:

    Good info Blue. Not surprised really. Looks like a Puig move. Send him down, he’ll tear up the minors and be back by June. Not how I would do it but it ain’t my team.

    Kemp could very well be ready by mid April.

  27. Bigblue says:

    Badger,

    Who knows? Maybe Dee will actually surprise us now there are no expectations. If so Alex becomes the 3rd baseman later in the season.

    Agree with you on Kemp. I don’t think Dodger fans will have to wait until May to see him playing….based on what I saw today.

  28. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I’m not watching this afternoon’s game, but I did notice that Gordon got his 4th triple this spring. I can’t help but believe that those triples are a direct result of his added weight/strength. Harder hit balls are going deeper into the gaps and deeper down the lines, and then it’s just off to the races.

  29. Bob says:

    Gordon looks good, batting over .300 so far during March 2014.

    Another reliever that has no possibility of making the MLB team gives up a ton of runs. Is there actually a lack of pitching depth at AAA?

    Urias starts game against some big league talent and looks real good for his age. 6-1 and still growing? Does he make it to AA this year?

  30. Badger says:

    Just saw the box, have to admit I didn’t recognize any of the Padre pitchers. Those big league names?

    As long as Gordon gets on at .333 or better I am fine with him starting the season in the lineup. But eventually we are going to see what that $28 million bought us.

  31. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    If Gordon continues to hit, there’s a good chance he could end up in a platoon with Guerrero. But Guerrero will see plenty of time. He could also spell Ramirez at short on occasion or Uribe at 3B, assuming he doesn’t have a problem playing more than one position. And Gordon can occasionally spell someone in the outfield. And both of them can occasionally come off the bench and fill-in late in games or in extra innings. If Gordon and Guerrero are both playing well, Mattingly will find a way to get plenty of playing time for both of them. But I’m guessing that Guerrero may well start the season in ALBQ., and if all goes well, will move up to LA in May or June. In the meantime, I can see a platoon at 2B between Turner and Gordon.

    I’m not making a case for Miguel Rojas, because I stand by my contention that ST stats are mostly meaningless. But he got two more hits today and is up to .440. Gordon is a perfect example of that, having gone from .185 to .282 within about the last week. A couple of bad days and he could lose a bunch of that 97 point gain. Of course, as a Gordon supporter, I think that the .282 is more representative of his ability.

    I doubt if we’re going to see Urias at AA. He pitched only 54 innings last year at low-A Great Lakes. He starts this season at 17, and doesn’t turn 18 until August. At best he might pitch at Rancho, and go beyond the 54 innings he threw last year. I could also see him starting again at Great Lakes, and moving up later to Rancho. As was the case last year, I suspect the Dodgers will limit his innings, just not as much as last year. He’s still at least two years away, and maybe longer. The Dodgers are not going to push his young arm.

  32. Bob says:

    Urias already knows what is in the plan for him. He hopes to get to the big leagues this year. I hope that he sees AA at the end of the year so that he knows what he needs to do for 2015. Urias will be on a pitch count with 30 more innings than last year. He has already been told and is talking about it….

  33. Badger says:

    Gordon hit well at all his minor league stops. We’ve been waiting for it to click here. Maybe signing all those middle infielders is motivation.

    Guerrero to AAA I suppose. At least there he will be with players his own age. He should smoke that league.

  34. Badger says:

    Kershaw doesn’t look ready yet. Urias does – if he was a one inning pitcher. I figure he’ll start in high A and finish with a few in AA.

    Puig ain’t exactly locked in.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I hope time warner loses there butt hope all the other company’s don’t back down .after 55years as a dodger fan I just don’t care.LETS go ANGELS sorry magic u lost me!

  36. StarARTIST says:

    From what I understand it is similar to MLBTV where the home games are blackedout until sometime after the LIVE game is ended. Who wants that? Plus you can not subscribe to the channel with any package, you must subscribe to one of the two highest cost packages.

  37. Louis says:

    There was also an article on Radar Online yesterday about Directv giving credits to subscribers for not providing the Dodgers. I called in this morning and got $5 off my bill for 6 months. Has anyone else tried it and gotten a rebate?

    Maybe if Directv has to rebate enough they will make a deal and add the channel finally.

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