Forget the Yankees, Dodgers, Phils and Angels: TBS is the real winner of the division series

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Overall, TV ratings were down for the 2009 baseball season, especially late in the year when, outside of Detroit and Minnesota, there wasn’t all that much to play for.  Fortunes have changed in the postseason, however:

The first round of the Major League Baseball playoffs helped TBS to its best one-week ratings in its 33-year history.

The Turner Broadcasting Systems network said it averaged almost 4.8 million viewers for each of the 13 division series playoff games, up 11 percent from last year.

Best ever for TBS?  You mean to tell me that baseball outdrew the 115th showing of “Two Mules for Sister Sara” and that prime time Rock and Roll Express vs. Ivan and Nikita Koloff match in the summer of 1985?  Show me the numbers or else I’m not buying it.

Overall, I think the lesson here is that, whether we care to admit it or not, having five four (oops, somehow forgot Minnesota) of the six playoff teams come from top-5 media markets certainly drives the ratings.  It’s also why FOX will be privately rooting against the Phillies, who are residents of the tiniest media market (a paltry 4th in the nation!) among the remaining teams. 

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.