POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 21, 2011
Want to watch the best-executed squeeze play in Major League Baseball?
Turn on your cable TV any time the World Series champion San Francisco Giants are playing. Well, any time they are playing on something other than ESPN, which happens to be most of the time.
Unfortunately, you won’t see the Giants on such occasions because we, the baseball fans in Hawaii, are the ones who are getting squeezed (feel free to substitute your own descriptive term) by MLB.
Basically MLB is holding Hawaii, a state without its own major league team, hostage for its nickel-clenching clubs and the Giants are Exhibit A as we come up on the second anniversary of the whole nefarious scheme.
It works like this: MLB teams declare a “home television territory” which need not have any relevance to actual geographic proximity. Which is why six teams — the Giants, A’s, Dodgers, Angels, Mariners and Padres — have all “declared” Hawaii their territory. Why Arizona didn’t also pile on isn’t known.
It would be nice to feel that wanted if you didn’t also know they were trying to pick our pockets at the same time.
Anyway, being in their “territory” allows all six teams to say Hawaii cable outlets must either work a deal with the clubs’ regional sports networks (RSNs) or face a blackout of non-ESPN national telecasts. That means no viewing them on MLB.com, MLB Extra Innings or other outlets unless you have DirecTV, which most of Hawaii doesn’t. Good luck on getting a discount, too.
Oceanic Time Warner Cable struck agreements with the Dodgers and Angels, but not the others and negotiations with the Giants’ provider, Comcast Sports Net Bay Area and CSN California have apparently been going nowhere with more finger-pointing than progress.
The Padres and Mariners, unable to work out deals, saw fit to grant what MLB describes as “temporary waivers” that allow their games to be seen here. “Those teams do not want to deprive fans in Hawaii of the opportunity to watch these games on TV and have, therefore, granted temporary waivers so they can be made available as part of our MLB Extra Innings subscription package for out-of-market games,” an MLB spokesman explained.
The inference being the Giants don’t mind “depriving the fans”...until they get some moolah, so pay up.
Going on two years in now, it has become such a ridiculous standoff irritating so many fans here that, we’re told, U. S. Sen. Daniel Inouye had asked MLB to explain itself. Instead of talking sense to its teams and working this out, MLB’s response was: “We at MLB would, of course, like to see Oceanic Time Warner better serve cable subscribers in Hawaii by distributing all four RSNs.”
A spokesman for Oceanic did not respond to recent requests for comment about the Giants situation.
“In the meantime,” MLB senior vice president Christopher S. Tully wrote last season, “please rest assured that MLB and each of these clubs are committed to serving the best interests of our fans in Hawaii.”
A year later, committed to keeping the squeeze on is more like it.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.