And no one ever saw the Dodgers on local television again.
Crazy? Absolutely, though maybe not as crazy as it sounded a year ago. Not as crazy as anyone would have imagined in the deepest recesses of their little blue hearts when contract conversations began.
Yet here we are, remarkably having gone an entire season without the Dodgers being broadcast on local television to anyone who doesn’t subscribe to Time Warner Cable -- which we’re told is 70% of the Los Angeles market, though who would be surprised if it were actually more?
If it seems impossible to have reached this point, best hang on to that remote. There is positively no guarantee the Dodgers will return to local TV in 2015.
Incredible, huh? The two-time division winners, with the wealthiest payroll in baseball, with maybe the wealthiest owners, and a deal cannot be struck to broadcast their SportsNet LA channel to most of the Los Angeles market.
“I don’t think anybody really knows how it’s going to play out,” Ed Desser, a veteran sports television consultant and negotiator, told the Times’ Bill Shaikin and Meg James. “Anybody who tells you for certain what’s going to happen, I think, is staring into a crystal ball.”
Apparently a blank one. Shaikin and James reported that there are currently no negotiations between Time Warner Cable and the region’s other cable and satellite providers, and none are scheduled. Ain’t that encouraging?
Things have been put on hold while mergers between mega-conglomerates are examined by the feds. The first one up -- between Comcast and Time Warner Cable -- doesn’t have to be decided by the Federal Communication Commission until March 30. That’s a whole six days before the season opener and the FCC has already delayed a ruling twice.
And then there’s the merger between AT&T and DirecTV, which also may be approved in the first quarter of the year. Or maybe not.
Meanwhile, no Dodgers on local television.
“I’m very concerned,” Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter told Shaikin.
Hey, thanks for that. This is a prolonged battle between the super-rich, and the ones who suffer are the fans. They’re not sure exactly who to be angry with, so the anger spews everywhere -- to the cable companies, to SportsNet LA, to Walter and Stan Kasten, to Magic Johnson, Mayor Eric Garcetti, to the bullpen.
Walter told Shaikin that the Dodgers had no interest in renegotiating their $8.35-billion deal with Time Warner Cable, rejecting suggestions that the team should take less money in the hope that more providers would carry the channel at a lower price.
“We’re not talking about widows and orphans on the three sides of this transaction,” Walter said.
Isn’t that just so sweet? So while the 1% argue about how to become even more ridiculously wealthy, the vast majority of fans go without being able to watch the Dodgers on TV.
And may have to get used to it.