Most people in L.A. still can’t see Dodgers games. There’s some progress though. Kinda.

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The Dodgers and Time Warner launched SportsNet LA this season. The Dodgers games appear on it in California. The problem: only Time Warner subscribers can currently get SportsNet LA and a minority of people in Los Angeles are Time Warner subscribers, leaving the majority of Dodgers fans with no way to watch Dodgers games.

The reason other carriers — including DirecTV, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS and Dish Network — aren’t carrying it? Time Warner wants to charge them $4 per subscriber to carry it. That’s pretty darn high for a single channel and it’s hard to pass on those costs to all subscribers when most of them probably aren’t baseball fans to begin with. This is a broader problem with all rights fees disputes in pay TV and it has played out in many cities, usually with sports, but sometimes with other channels too.

But since this is sports — the Dodgers no less — a lot of heavy hitters are wading in. Congressmen, mostly, and the FCC, trying to force Time Warner and the other pay TV providers to the table. At the heavy hitters’ suggestion, Time Warner has agreed to forego continued negotiations and simply submit the matter to a binding arbitration which will determine what the other carriers have to pay for it.

However, it takes two to tango:

DirecTV does not appear interested in entering into arbitration to resolve the dispute.

“Rather than force everyone to bail Time Warner Cable out, the simplest solution is to enable only those who want to pay to see the remaining Dodger games to do so at the price Time Warner Cable wants to set,” a DirecTV spokesman said, adding that non-fans should not have to pay for Time Warner Cable’s “excess.”

Not too encouraging. And, obviously, somewhat disingenuous. I’m a DirecTV subscriber and, for some reason, they don’t let me pick and choose which programming I wish to pay for. I have tiers and packages and all kinds of crap. If they’d let me have MLB Extra Innings, Cartoon Network and a couple of science/documentary channels for the kids and would allow me to turn on and turn off Fox and TBS each postseason, I’d be doing that in a heartbeat. I’m not holding my breath.

Oh well. At least I can get Dodgers games here in Ohio. Too bad people in L.A. cant.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.