It’s time we faced facts. Far beyond time, actually. There is no sense in anyone deluding themselves any longer:
If you can’t see the Dodgers now on SportsNet LA, you never will.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve sent letter after letter to the Dodgers, to Spectrum cable, to your congressman or even to the president.
It’s just not going to happen and the sooner you come to grips with that, the better.
SportsNet LA is in its fourth year of being the only local channel that carries Dodgers games. It is owned by the Dodgers and is available only through Charter Communications’ Spectrum, which last year purchased Time Warner Cable. After this long of waiting to see if some kind of breakthrough would come that would entice other providers, such as DirecTV, to put the channel in their lineup, we may as well realize it’s just not going to happen.
And fans certainly aren’t going to get any help from the commissioner of baseball.
During the All-Star Game break in Miami, commissioner Rob Manfred said he can’t and won’t make any kind of ruling in the dispute.
“It’s not my job to tell a club to renegotiate its television agreements,” Manfred told the Los Angeles Times, repeating a line he used in January 2016. “I think the much more productive course, and we have pursued this course, is to try to work with the parties who actually have an economic interest here.”
Manfred added, “I remain very concerned about the issue. As I have said repeatedly, I don’t have a seat at that table.”
By now it should be clear. The only way to see most Dodgers games on TV is to subscribe to Spectrum. Otherwise you’re out of luck. By now if you want to see the team, have access to Spectrum and haven’t switched, it is because you just don’t care all that much.
All the umbrage about the issue — about the greediness of the Dodgers and Spectrum, about Manfred’s refusal to do anything about it, about the unwillingness of any other person in charge to take it on — is simply wasted energy now.
The Dodgers’ SportsNet LA contract with Spectrum isn’t over until 2038 — good grief, I’ll be 82 then! — and they have shown no interest whatsoever in lowering the asking price per subscriber to providers. The providers have suffered no huge loss in subscribers over not being able to see the Dodgers. And baseball has no wish to sully its hands with the whole thing.
Even the U.S. Department of Justice, when it ruled that DirecTV colluded with providers to keep SportsNet LA off their lineups, it did not require DirecTV or anyone else to pick the channel up.
Pundits arguing that the Dodgers’ alleged “brand erosion” is directly linked to the inability of people to be able to see them on TV, is dubious. The Dodgers lead baseball in attendance, both at home and on the road. Dodgers-branded merchandise is being worn everywhere.
The TV thing? It’s over. We may as well move on.
NO FALLING STARS
With the All-Star Game no longer being used to decide home-field advantage for the World Series, Fox decided to make Tuesday’s game into a carnival sideshow.
It started with Alex Rodriguez interviewing three members of the National League infield after the first inning — on the infield.
The whole stunt — and the operative word here is definitely “stunt” — was a sponsored segment bought by Warner Bros. to promote its movie Dunkirk.
Before that, Fox had Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci do one-question interviews with the leadoff batter for each league — the American League’s Jose Altuve and the NL’s Charlie Blackmon.
Even stranger and more invasive were fourth-inning interviews with AL left fielder George Springer and NL right fielder Bryce Harper — during the game. Obviously, Fox had gotten permission from MLB and each player to mic the players, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a shameful travesty of the game.
Harper seemed the most comfortable with the setup; he even asked play-by-play man Joe Buck an NFL question. It seemed like neither one of them even liked baseball.
Frankly, I would’ve loved it if Harper’s mic had gotten in the way, or had picked up some unsavory language when he made his second-inning diving catch of Salvador Perez’s fly ball or when he came up short on the fifth-inning RBI hit by Miguel Sano while wearing the mic.
Now, I’m as fun-loving as the next person, but I also lean toward being a baseball purist. Baseball is good enough. It doesn’t need to be “fixed.” As much as I disliked having the All-Star Game determine World Series home advantage, I also disliked Fox’s mockery when it decided the game was now open for ridicule.
I didn’t mind Nelson Cruz stopping the game before his sixth-inning at-bat to have catcher Yadier Molina to take a picture of him and umpire Joe West. There was no advertising stunt there and the way the game was played was not altered.
Tuesday’s game was seen by an average of 9.3 million viewers, up 7% from last year’s record-low 8.7 million. Monday night’s Home Run Derby on ESPN, won by Aaron Judge, was seen by 8.2 million, which was the event’s best draw since 2009’s 8.3 million saw Prince Fielder win.
WHERE’S JOE DAVIS THIS WEEK?
The Dodgers’ Joe Davis will stay with the Dodgers this weekend. Fox Sports 1 has the 4 p.m. PDT baseball game this week, which will have the Red Sox and Yankees shown nationally. TBS will also show the two teams at 10 a.m.
Incidentally, Fox announced Thursday that Davis will again head up the network’s No. 2 college football announcing crew, teaming with Brady Quinn.
ESPN announced this week it was turn the July 30 Giants-Dodgers game into a Sunday Night Baseball game and change the time from 1 to 5 p.m.
OLYMPIC CHANNEL LAUNCHES
The Olympic Channel will launch Saturday in 35 million U.S. homes, according to NBC, a partner of the venture with the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The network will be available, NBC says, to Spectrum, DirecTV, Verizon, Comcast and Altice at the start, along with many streaming services, including DirecTV Now, Fubo, Hulu, Sony PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV.
Sports Illustrated reports among the early highlights of the network will be the reairing of all eight original broadcasts of the 1992 U.S. men’s basketball Dream Team. The games start Aug. 28 and conclude with a Labor Day marathon.
Especially notable will be that the games will be shown in their entirety; originally on NBC, some were edited down. The games were announced by the team of Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Jim Gray, and by late Lakers announcer Chick Hearn with Steve Jones.
UP & DOWN THE DIAL
The Wimbledon men’s semifinals are at 5-11 a.m. Friday on ESPN, with the women’s championship at 6 a.m. Saturday (repeated by 3 p.m. on ABC). The men’s final is at 6 a.m. Sunday on ESPN (repeated at 3 p.m. on ABC). … An interview with Rod Carew will be a highlight of Tuesday’s Real Sports at 10 p.m. on HBO. … Johnny Miller has signed a contract to continue for at least one more year as an analyst for NBC and Golf Channel, according to Golfweek. … Tom Hart will take over from Brent Musburger as the SEC Network’s top college football announcer. Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic will be the analysts, replacing Jesse Palmer and Kaylee Hartung. … NFL analyst Mark Schlereth is leaving ESPN and moving to FS1, he tweeted Tuesday. … AdAge called it “Deflategate 2.0”: Viagra and Cialis will be noticeably absent from NFL TV advertising this season. Both erectile dysfunction medicines will lose their patent exclusivity this year.