I told myself I wouldn’t write another word about the absolute fiasco that is the state of the Dodgers on local television – until it’s finally over. Heaven knows, I’ve written enough about it over the past two seasons. But after reading the condescending and tone-deaf statements that have come from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Dodgers’ President Stan Kasten, I’ve just gotta get up on my soapbox and sound off one more time!
The nerve, the hubris, the audacity Manfred and Kasten showed today demands that everyone with a keyboard and an opinion expose them for the empty suits that they are – at least in the case of baseball on TV in general, and the Dodgers on Los Angeles TV, in particular.
Here’s what Commissioner Manfred had to say,
“The distribution dispute involving DirecTV, AT&T, COX and Verizon has gone on too long. The Dodgers’ massive fan base deserves to be able to watch Dodger games regardless of their choice of provider. The situation is particularly acute given that this is Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully’s final season. Time Warner has made a significant economic move that I hope will be accepted by the providers.”
Can you believe the brass on this guy? He said the fan base deserves to watch the Dodgers “regardless of their choice of provider”. What if our choice of provider is the local, free, over the air, broadcast network? Well, he didn’t really mean that choice, did he? Manfred was really only talking about the choices that we have to pay for.
The benevolent behemoth that is Time Warner Cable has exclusive Dodgers TV broadcasting rights. No one else can show Dodger games without first showing TWC the money. According to Manfred, TWC’s offer of a 30% reduction in the per-subscriber price to the other providers was a “significant economic move”.
Did anybody notice that reduction in price was good for only one year ? What do you think will happen at the end of that first-year, trial offer – after TWC has those other providers and their subscribers on the hook? Yeah, you know what’ll happen.
A significant move, indeed. Are they not merciful?
But the real chutzpah came from the local suit, President Kasten. Here’s his altruistic statement,
“We think it’s a wonderful gesture from Time Warner Cable, particularly out of respect for Vin Scully. It’s a big win for the fans and, frankly, a big win for the cable and satellite providers. There could be no better way to honor Vin in his final year than for them to quickly accept this offer and get the games on TV.”
Are you kidding me? Now he invokes respect for Vin Scully? Vinny couldn’t even watch the team that he has devoted his life’s work – nay, his life – to, when the TWC blackout kept his TV screen dark. Where was Kasten’s respect for Scully then? For 66 years he has been careful to not insert himself into Dodger affairs outside of the broadcast booth. So where was the respect when Kasten dropped Scully right into the mud of this fiasco today?
How about a bit of respect for the lifelong Dodger fans who are senior citizens and on fixed incomes, Stan? How about some respect for the single parents who can’t afford cable TV, let alone take their kids to a game? Where was the respect for these fans when you granted exclusive broadcasting rights to TWC for the next 25 years and killed all free, over the air Dodger broadcasts for a generation?
Did you seriously call a one-year, one-time discount a big win for the fans? Maybe for the short-sighted, not paying attention, or money-is-no-object fans.
That said, Kasten had it pretty much pegged when he called it a big win for the cable and satellite providers. No matter how things had played out, if the deal had gone through, it would have been a brilliant win for them. Money in their pockets – 30% less now, but anybody’s guess how much more later – is always a win.
It’s been estimated that TWC has lost $100 million a year over this fiasco since 2014. Please stop name-dropping Vin Scully and calling for everyone to quickly accept this deal, when you won’t even admit what it’s really all about.