Senators spent two hours urging Major League Baseball and TV executives not to let the Extra Innings pay package land exclusively on DirecTV's satellite system. But despite congressional brush-back pitches — warnings of legislation and even the oft-repeated threat to review baseball's anti-trust exemption — MLB President Bob DuPuy didn't flinch.He left out "of course, the fans who want more baseball but either don't want to, or can't, switch to DirecTV can go fuck themselves."
Although he promised to continue negotiating through Saturday, the eve of opening day, DuPuy said baseball was willing to make an unpopular call — inconvenience about 230,000 Extra Innings subscribers on cable and the Dish Network satellite system — to get broad distribution of the league's planned Baseball Channel on DirecTV in 2009.
But DuPuy would not agree to extend the negotiations into the season, allowing cable and the Dish Network to carry Extra Innings while talks continued.
"We as a business matter view the Baseball Channel as critical to our long-term survival and the interests of our fans who want more baseball,'' he said during the two-hour hearing.
You can certainly see where he's coming from. Nearly a century and a half of professional baseball, with record attendance and interest over the last few seasons, revenue through the roof. But dammit, if they can't get the baseball channel in front of 16 million DirecTV subscribers, 15.7 million of whom won't even know they have it, then baseball is doomed. Or, as Bender might say "DOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMED".
And let's get one thing clear about Dupuy: The man is a lying sack of shit. Baseball refuses to offer Extra Innings to InDemand unless they match the terms offered by DirecTV. Only, one of those terms was that baseball would give DirecTV a 20% equity stake in the baseball channel, a stake not offered to the other carriers. So in other words, InDemand and other dish networks need to match the terms that DirecTV gave to MLB, but MLB doesn't have to match the terms it gave to DirecTV. Or put more simply, pay us the same consideration as we got from DirecTV, and we'll give you a fair amount less than we're giving DirecTV. Like I said, the guy is a piece of shit.
So what does this mean for you (and by "you" I mean "me")? Well, it means that for the time being, I'm more or less done with baseball. I will not be switching to DirecTV (where rumor is there's a two month wait for HD equipment). I will not be purchasing the streaming video offered by MLB.TV (motto: For an extra $20, you can get the version that only kinda sucks!). I will not be purchasing the package that provides radio broadcasts. Baseball has essentially decided that it no longer wants my business. And that's fine. That's their prerogative. And I certainly don't expect others to join me. This is not a crusade. It's not a boycott. They've made a business decision, and I've made a business decision.
The natural next step, of course, is that unless a deal is reached in the next two days, I won't be blogging about baseball anymore. I don't like to blog about sporting events I haven't at least witnessed on television, other than to comment on some news item. And since I won't be doing that anymore, I probably won't be covering those events here.
It's not going to be easy, and I may completely relapse. It's like giving up heroin (or, at least what I imagine giving up heroin may be like, without the actual physical symptoms...OK maybe that's a bad analogy). I've been addicted to baseball for as long as I can remember, and I've been a pretty loyal customer over that time as well. But I imagine that if I can get through the first month or so, I'll be gone (from baseball) for good....or at least for the year.
So unless something breaks in the next couple of days, consider this a swan song of sorts, at least as it pertains to baseball. I'll still check in on the final four, the occasional concert, and when UCLA football gets underway again, it will probably be business as usual next fall (though I can't guarantee that - sometimes it's too easy to not blog).