I remember Steve Sax, Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser and Davey Lopes wearing Dodger blue. Fernando Valenzuela rolling his eyes right before he pitches; Jerry Reuss and his epic ‘stache, Mike Scioscia and his flawless fundamentals behind home plate. Reggie Smith and his afro falling out of his helmet, and Tommy Lasorda bumbling towards home plate to unleash an expletive laden tirade on the home plate ump. I remember Vin Scully, in all his mastery, recanting stories about what it was like in Brooklyn, conversations he had with Jackie Robinson, and cooking tips from Mrs. Lasorda.
Vin is what stood out to me the most; how he made me feel like I was standing right next to him at the Polo grounds…how personable Walter Alston was…Steve Yeager’s favorite dinner spot in Torrance. He made me feel like I was right there next to him, listening in on a conversation, not just a broadcast of a baseball game.
In 2013, the Guggenheim group, with notable names like Earvin Magic Johnson, Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, etc., bought the LA Dodgers for an unheard of price of $2b. They immediately turned and sold the exclusive broadcast rights to Time Warner Cable for $8.3 billion.
Dodger fans are being held captive by this monstrous TV deal, and the fans are the hostages. To date, Time Warner Cable has not budged on their subscriber demands, and in the interim, legions of Dodgers fans throughout southern California are adjusting to following the Dodgers via online streams, MLBTV, the MLB app or even Facebook, where I’ve watched more than one game via some guy streaming the game on his phone in his own living room.
A generation of Dodgers fans are growing up not hearing Vin talk about Dodgers stadium; not hearing him spin tales about Satchel Paige, conversations with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax…catching tips with Yogi Berra, and talking baserunning with Maury Wills.
Instead, less than 30% of Los Angeles County gets Dodgers games. The numbers plummet once you step foot out of the county. A contract is a contract, and I understand the business behind it. I, myself, would be hard pressed to turn down $8.3 billion dollars, no matter the strings attached.
There has to be a point where the ownership team comes to the realization that the TV deal is doing more harm than good, and use their unlimited resources to find a solution. It’s on them. We, as fans, can only do so much: we could boycott games themselves, and further restrict access to the club. We could rush the field and display signs saying ‘TIME WARNER IS WORSE THAN HOT DOGS’, but that will only get us so far.
It breaks my heart to know that my little sister’s twin 7yr old boys, Brody and Cooper, have grown up without Vin Scully in their lives. They know who the Dodgers are due to the never-ending diligence of their mom, but when it comes to exposure, all they see is Angels games. Cooper’s favorite player is Mike Trout, and he has more than 1 Trout jersey. Now, Brody is a Dodgers fan, and his favorite player is Joc Pederson, but if you were to ask BroBro when was the last time he saw Joc play, he couldn’t answer. The lack of TV games means he only gets to see him when they go to games in person, and, even with the fairly good pricing of seats at Dodgers stadium, it’s a bit cheaper to watch on the couch at home than to rally the fam and drive up to a game.
There is no easy answer; I’m a businessman myself by day, and I thoroughly understand that this isn’t as simple as adding a new channel to everyone’s existing cable deal, or broadcasting the games on KCAL or KTLA. That doesn’t change the reality that there is an entire generation growing up not watching Joc Pederson roam centerfield;…not watching Yasiel Puig gun someone down from right field (HI TREVOR STORY!), not witnessing Clayton Kershaw strike out the side. Missing out on Vin Scully narrate it all, weaving personal stories throughout the entire game. It’s a shame, and it’s time something was done to fix it.