Fox Sports have long been considered the favorites to work out the oft-mentioned mega TV deal with the Dodgers, but Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times hears that an agreement between the two sides is no longer a slam dunk.
Whether the Dodgers keep their television broadcasts on Fox Sports or move them to Time Warner Cable appears to be a “50-50” proposition, according to a person familiar with the team’s TV negotiations but not authorized to discuss them.
The Dodgers remain in discussions with Fox and TWC, according to two people familiar with the talks. The Fox exclusive negotiating period expired five weeks ago.
At the time, the Dodgers and Fox were negotiating a deal that could have been worth at least $6 billion over 25 years. However, no deal has been finalized, in part because the Dodgers prefer to avoid a U.S. Bankruptcy Court showdown with Major League Baseball over the structure of the deal.
In the interim, the Dodgers appear increasingly intrigued with the wide latitude TWC might be able to provide for all-day programming — for the team, and perhaps for other entertainment assets of Guggenheim Partners. Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ controlling owner, is chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, which controls Dick Clark Productions.
In a nutshell, there’s disagreement over whether the Dodgers will end up contributing either around $1 billion or $2 billion to MLB’s revenue sharing program, so they are looking at alternative ways to structure a deal that will allow them to keep as much money as possible while making MLB (and the court) happy. As Craig pointed out last month, the difference between these two figures represent more than most teams get for their entire television deal. Some world they are living in.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: