Last year the Dodgers aired a handful of late season games on broadcast TV so fans could see the final games of Vin Scully. It gave some people hope that, maybe, the team and its sports network, SportsNet LA, and its cable partner, Charter Communications, would find a way to end the impasse that has prevented most baseball fans in southern California from seeing Dodgers games due to a carriage dispute between them and various cable providers. We now have our answer.
Nope. From the LA Times:
For the fourth consecutive year, the Dodgers’ television broadcasts could go unseen by a majority of fans in the Los Angeles area.
Charter Communications said Monday it does not anticipate reaching agreements with DirecTV or any other cable or satellite provider to carry the Dodgers-owned SportsNet LA channel by the time the regular season starts April 3.
At some point people just learn to live without watching their baseball team. Time makes it easier. Vin Scully retiring makes it easier. It’s anecdotal, obviously, but I have a handful of friends in Los Angeles who are Dodgers fans and they’ve all since moved on. They check in online, looking at scores and stats and occasional stories but that’s all. They care in the way someone cares about a friend who moved away. Keeping in touch, but only for so long.
The Dodgers will not suffer for this in the immediate future, as the money they got for the TV deal that is so expensive that it is basically preventing carriage on cable providers is guaranteed. But, at some point it’s quite possible that the deal won’t make sense for Charter Communications and they’ll find they cannot get sufficient revenues to support their multi-billion investment in Dodgers broadcast rights. What then?
In other news, if your team has not yet struck a lucrative new broadcast deal, there’s a fair chance that it’s too late for them to take full advantage of one of the bigger bubbles of our time.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.