Fans voice their concern that SportsNet LA is only broadcasting Dodgers… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Bad TV deals are becoming a ruinous force, the Time Warner Cable deal the latest example, with Dodgers fans held hostage in yet another standoff. Welcome to America, 2014. It used to be copious bundles of advertising cash were once enough to keep TV and ballclubs afloat, now copious amounts of cable cash are required.
Stop this train. I want to get off.
Why isn't Bud Selig helping solve this fiasco? Where's L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti? We also have a couple of U.S. senators I haven't seen in maybe three years, and they are AWOL too.
Feeling used or abandoned, Dodgers fans? You should.
That was the sentiment in Wednesday night's Dodgers fan rally, a feeling of betrayal. Marketing departments love to hammer home the Bleed Blue connection to this franchise. What are we supposed to bleed now, Stan Kasten?
Evidently, Dodgers Green.
"No Vin? It's a sin!"
That was one of the signs protesting fans carried Wednesday night, along with "A Whole New Blues" and "Where's the Magic?"
Where we wanted 400 rabble-rousers, we got 40. But it's a start. I'm no Norma Rae, that's for sure. To get out the word, I worked social media, realizing late in the game that I'm more of an anti-social media person. But as long as they're still slamming soy ink against big ribbons of Canadian pine, the fans have a voice. I'm not old school, I'm preschool.
Still, our protest rally drew three news crews, a radio guy and a couple of significant bloggers to the Short Stop bar, a watering hole with a juke box and a pool table and a bullet hole in the front door. At the end of the bar, a sexy divorcee sat filling out protest signs on a bar stool. All in all, it was perfect.
Among the participants, a hospital exec, a magazine writer, a movie-maker, a former beat writer for the Reds. From all over L.A. they came, instant family.
"What do we want?"
"When do we want 'em?"
A little New England activism still flows through many of us.
To recap: The Dodgers and Time Warner Cable have created a new sports network they are unable to sell to the various cable and satellite providers around Los Angeles, leaving an estimated seven in 10 viewers unable to watch their beloved team.
DirecTV is a key player. If it agrees to the deal, other providers are likely to follow. The on-and-off talks have been acrimonious. Late Thursday, a TWC spokeman said DirecTV has “shown no urgency in getting a deal done.”
"Corporate greed has jumped the shark," grumbled one fan.
"A remarkable blunder," marveled another.
Most fans, at the rally and in emails, blame both the Dodgers and TWC for a bum deal that has left them in the dark. In lieu of a TV feed, frustrated fans have rushed to buy radios. Or bust through on the Internet.
"I split an MLB.com subscription with a couple of friends and run a proxy server in Oregon on Amazon EC2 ... to get around the local market blackout," one fan told me.
That's one easy solution. If you don't have a proxy server, will a toaster work?
"No Vin? It's a sin!"
One participant got teary over missing what might be Vin Scully's last year at the microphone, and the general takeaway from Wednesday's spirited rally is that fans do bleed Dodger blue. They love this franchise to the bone. And while some say they are fed up and defecting to the Angels, they love their team, even as management suffers through this Billy Buckner moment.
"Where's Bud?" shouted longtime fan David Kipen.
"Yeah, where's Bud?" they all repeat.
That'd be Bud Selig. You may remember him as a one-time baseball commissioner, now a fugitive in the whole debacle. But where is he now?
Or Mayor Garcetti? While you can almost understand Selig's hesitance to get in the middle of this mess, taking on TWC could only help the new mayor. A spokesman for the mayor said Thursday that state law prevents Garcetti from getting involved in cable issues. In any case, in this city of big swinging sticks, could someone please step forward?
Do something. What?
I'd say go to arbitration now. Bring in an ex-president, or Joe Torre, or Colin Powell to invite all sides to the table, keep us posted on the progress, make sure something is being done. TWC has used arbitration before, though sparingly.
Because I and those TV crews have news for you: Dodgers fans are supremely loyal and passionate, but they're nobody's fools. And Mike Trout plays just down the road.