Sports Dodgers

Dodgers fans desperate, frustrated, fuming as game blackout rolls on

On scratchy radios they listen to Vin Scully for a mere three innings, salvaging what they can of this aberrant young season, brimming with equal amounts promise and poison.

"Come on," insists frustrated Dodgers fan Gary Mandell. "We are talking about a legendary announcer…. It's like taking the brushes away from Rembrandt."

There is the sense that maybe we shouldn't make a fuss at all, that the worst thing to do to this Dodgers front office right now is nothing. What if you blacked out 70% of your TV market in a cable standoff, and no one cared?

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That would be worse than mass protests, advertiser boycotts, sit-ins, and all the other desperate measures Dodgers fans are suggesting to end this debacle, now in its 34th day.

One fan believes stalled cars at the gate of Dodger Stadium would rattle their cages. It might also get you beheaded.

So silence might be the best protest of all.

Then, along come notes from folks like Vera Rappaport:

"I am 88 years old and love baseball," she writes. "I don't want to adopt another team. Can you help?"

Not sure, Vera, but I won't go down looking.

The lack of televised Dodgers games hit home over the Easter weekend. The lullaby that is April baseball is a traditional part of the Easter soundtrack. You don't watch every pitch, perhaps, but there it is in the background, like a favorite folk song.

The past weekend was eerily absent of this, as Dodger fans either give up or seethe. First the McCourt years, and now this, they say.

"I primarily blame TWC [Time Warner Cable] for obvious reasons, but I don't think the Dodgers are as blameless as they pretend to be," writes John Boyle. "They are smart enough to have foreseen this, and powerful enough to apply pressure to get TWC to compromise.

"I hope the Dodgers see what this is doing to their brand."

As usual, money is the root of all goodness, and the prime reason for this standoff. The bizarre trade-offs are not lost on fans. In order to assemble the highest payroll in history, the Dodgers needed to grab at the $8.3-billion Time Warner Cable waved around. That it might've been fool's gold didn't seem apparent at the time.

"[It's the] runaway player salaries," insists reader Gary Fisher. "Cap 'em all at about $3 million. If you can't figure out how to live comfortably for the rest of your life with $3 mil in the bank there is something seriously wrong with you."

Don't hold your breath, Gary, though I sense many fans feel the same way, in an era of escalating cable costs, seat prices and $40 T-shirts.

Not going quietly in this debate are a lot of cable customers who don't care for the Dodgers and are adamant about not paying extra for games they don't intend to watch. This is central to the standoff, as the cable providers fear losing battalions of such customers.

"Time Warner paid more than they can afford for a program that not enough people want," said reader Bill Padian. "And they are now trying to make up for their mistake by trying to shove the cost down as many people's respective throats. That just ain't right."

Look, Dodgers fans are ferociously fed up, and who can blame them?

In hundreds of emails, they are suggesting boycotts of games, merchandise, advertisers. Use social media to contact players, they plead, and ask them to speak up.

They cry out for some sort of action from cable commissions, or from federal lawmakers studying the pending merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast.

Roger Arrieta, who has organized past protests by Dodgers fans, is on the case and urging broader protests.

Meanwhile, no word from Bud Selig yet, and Mayor Eric Garcetti cops out by citing state law that prohibits him from getting involved. In an outlandish aside, he presented the team with a corporate award Tuesday night.

"On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I'm proud to recognize the Dodgers' contributions to our city, both on and off the field," Garcetti said.

And you thought that Toronto mayor was clueless?

If this nonsense lingers much longer, I'd propose picketing the stadium gates, maybe during one of the national telecasts.

You in?

In the increasingly feudal world of pro sports, I'm ready to swing for the fences. For fans like dear old Vera; and to get Rembrandt back those brushes.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

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