Contract every team except Boston and New York.

Major League Baseball finally announced its deal with DirecTV to air is Extra Innings package. It’s not an exclusive deal at this point, but it might as well be. The cable industry and Dish Network have until March 31st to match the terms agreed to by DirecTV. Cable would be hard-pressed to match that offer because DirecTV is insane. I can’t imagine a scenario in which Dish Network could agree, having only 50,000 Extra Innings subscribers last year. Still, this is over the top:

Dish Network assailed the new agreement. “When our customers are suddenly cut off from watching their favorite sports teams on TV,” the company said in a statement, “it is time to ask whether the market is working. This is both anti-competitive and anti-consumer.”

The deal is certainly anti-consumer, for all the reasons I’ve stated. But the market is not wrong. Two companies that reach a mutual agreement can’t be considered a broken market. Stupid, definitely maybe, but not broken.

As a perfect example of how stupid Bud Selig is in his patronizing claims that fans can still see lots of baseball, consider the 2007 schedule offered by Fox. Beginning April 7th, it will air a game every Saturday. In the first month we get these choices:

Saturday, April 14

  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Boston Red Sox

Saturday, April 21

  • New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
  • St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

Saturday, April 28

  • Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
  • Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

Saturday, May 5

  • Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees

My vision might be bad, but I see April 21st and 28th looking exactly the same, with only the stadium scenery changing. Whoopee. And the two bookend weekends present us with either the Red Sox or Yankees. That’s some amazing diversity. Well done, Bud. Thanks for looking out for fans.

3 thoughts on “Contract every team except Boston and New York.”

  1. You seem to be very pro free market, but make the mistake that baseball is not a free market to begin with. If you (and MLB) wish to look at baseball as a business, fine. Let congress strip MLB of its anti-trust exemption and force them to compete like any other business. Only then will the market forces which you claim to be beneficial be released to benefit all involved. As things stand, and according to the law of the land, baseball IS NOT a business. It is the “national pastime” as detrmined by congress. Its only resemblance to an American business is that it charges money to customers. In structure and governance it is oligarchical and, forgive me, socialist. When to own a team one must be approved by a governing body and when the taxpayers finance your physical plant, you can’t say that MLB is a business in the American sense, or that the forces at work are “free market.” Congress created a unique financial circumstance to protect the “national pastime” and benefit the fans. If those two things aren’t happening, congress should scrap the special provisions and let the owners feel the tundral winds of real competition.

  2. I don’t think I’m making that mistake. I’ve said in the recent past that Congress should strip MLB of its anti-trust exemption. It should compete on its own merits or die whatever death it fears will result from not having such an agreement. And, as much as I despise this DirecTV deal and think it’s a slap to the face of every hardcore fan, Congress and the FCC should stay out of it. MLB, and Bud Selig in particular, should be free to be as stupid as it wants.
    I doubt Congress will strip the anti-trust exemption, though. IN that case, I am amused at the political pressure facing Selig and MLB. The problem is that he seems to expect all the benefits of a government-mandated monopoly with none of the oversight such a grant demands.
    For example, I’m a die-hard Phillies fan. As an Extra Innings subscriber in the past, I was still screwed because the Phillies have an exclusive deal with cable in Philadelphia. The only games shown on Extra Innings are the other team’s broadcast. This is absurd. The Phillies should be free to negotiate whatever television deal makes sense for them. But they also get the collective negotiating power of MLB through the anti-trust exemption. They get the best of both worlds with no drawbacks (from their viewpoint).
    My solution would be to strip away the anti-trust exemption, as I said. But that’s not happening. In that case, the Phillies should not get to exploit the federal loophole that lets them get both benefits. That comes at the expense of the fans Congress allegedly cares about. (It’s the money, I know.)
    So I don’t think I’ve been inconsistent or viewed the situation through the wrong (free market) analysis. To your other example, I don’t think stadiums should receive public financing. With all of this, I can talk about how it should be while acknowledging the way it is.

  3. If it’s any consolation, SI’s Peter King agrees with you.
    f. Bud Selig, you’re really going to make me get the dish? That really ticks me off. I guess $180 annually from me and 20 of my pals, isn’t enough. You’ve got a bunched of ticked-off baseball fans out there, just to let you know. A lot of them, actually.
    The dollars will speak in the end, and DirectTV will either renew or not, depending on their return. I pretty much always expect pro sports to follow the biggest payday.
    Since the ’94 strike, MLB sees themselves as untouchable. Their fans will let them get away with anything.
    Personally, I’ve barely noticed baseball since then.

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