Dodgers fans will face another season without televised games

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Dodgers fans will face another season without televised games

Carly Berke - Opinion Editor, Photo courtesy of Google Images

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Not long ago, Los Angeles rejoiced as former owner Frank McCourt sold the L.A. Dodgers to the Guggenheim Partners, a group of men including former L.A. Laker Magic Johnson and former baseball executive Stan Kasten. But the hope for the future of the Dodgers organization has started to diminish. As winter melts away and spring brings back America’s favorite past time, the prospect of another season in which 70 percent of L.A. is blacked out from games is becoming increasingly apparent.

After the Guggenheim Partners broke records by purchasing the team for $2.15 billion dollars, they realized they needed to find a quick solution to make up for their expenditures. The Dodgers subsequently sold broadcasting rights to Time Warner Cable (TWC), an American Internet service provider, for $8.3 billion. In early 2014, TWC launched SportsNet LA, a television channel that exclusively broadcasts Dodgers programming. Though the introduction of a Dodgers channel aroused excitement, it quickly created problems as the 2014 season approached. Because TWC attempted to resell the broadcasting rights to other Internet service providers at exorbitant prices, companies such as DIRECTV, AT&T, Dish Network, Charter and others refused to pay TWC. Dodgers fans carrying any of these companies could no longer find games through the Fox Sports’ channel Primeticket or broadcast channel KCAL 9. Only TWC carriers could access SportsNet LA and, subsequently, Dodgers games.

Though TWC and various cable companies were supposedly fixing on a deal during 2014, the 2015 opening day nears, and no resolution has been found nor is there much progress being made toward one. This will leave 70 percent of L.A. in the dark for the second consecutive year. Although some Dodgers fans have switched their carrier to TWC, others are in a predicament. Some are unable to carry TWC simply because of where they are geographically located, while others cannot carry TWC due to financial situations. But baseball is something that should be universally enjoyed, and to withhold the privilege of watching games from the public is utterly unfair and heartbreaking.

Another repercussion of this issue is the fans’ inability to listen to Vin Scully, the iconic play-by-play announcer. Scully, 87, has been with the Dodgers organization for 65 years, since the Brooklyn days, and has witnessed all of their triumphs and defeats. Legendary not only in the Dodgers community but also in all of baseball, Scully’s melodic voice and provision of timeless baseball stories are a key part of watching or listening to Dodgers games. But Scully is aging, and over the years he has slowly relinquished many of his responsibilities. He no longer travels with the team to other cities to call away games, and he renews his broadcasting contract on a season-by-season basis. Over the years, fans worries have usually been assuaged by mid-season when he announces he will return for the following year, but soon Scully’s time with the Dodgers will run out. It is tough for fans to sacrifice listening to him call what might be his last season.

Above all, the blackout reinforces the belief that baseball has become a game of commercial profit and there is little concern for the actual sport or its fans. The handsome salaries of players, the costly prices of tickets and food and the frequent exchange of beloved players between organizations all demonstrate the increasing avarice behind the game. For fans who devote time to their favorite teams, players and the sport of baseball itself, these recent events have been discouraging. Both the Dodgers and TWC care little for the burden they are imposing on the rest of L.A., and even enjoy the benefits of this quandary. The only option for fans is to sit back and sadly watch. Except most of them cannot watch because they do not have TWC.

 

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