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Selig Just Doesn't Get It

Mike SteffanosMonday, March 5, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


Last year when my cable company elected not to carry SNY, I signed up for DirecTV service and was able to watch the games. For that I'm grateful. Meanwhile, my old cable company was in the process of being sold to Comcast, and the deal took so long that cable viewers in my area never did get SNY. Fortunately for my fellow Waterbury, CT area Mets fans, Comcast has recently announced that the network will be available by opening day.

Since I am in what is considered the Mets local area, I do not have to subscribe to Extra Innings to watch Mets games. Hence I am not affected by the impending deal that will put the out of market games exclusively on the satellite network, effectively taking it away from fans who do not wish or are unable to switch from cable. Still, I know what it is to be a die-hard fan of my team, and if I was living in a different part of the country I would do whatever I had to do to see Mets games.

I understand that Extra Innings subscribers represent a rather small sub-set of baseball fandom. This New York Times story by Richard Sandomir estimates that there are 180,000 cable households subscribed to the package, and cites the president of DirecTV that only about 5,000 of these wouldn't be able to switch to DirecTV. This, of course, ignores the simple fact that many of these people may not wish to switch, and especially don't like the idea of being forced to do it to keep the programming that they love.

Unfortunately, if there has been one constant of the Bud Selig era in baseball, it is the obvious truth that baseball's commissioner cares more about the bottom line and trying to attract more casual fans to the game than he does about the die-hards who love the game the most. Bud and his marketing people understand all too well that they have nowhere else to go for major league baseball, anyway.

There are somewhat conflicting reports of how much of a windfall baseball will get from an exclusive deal with DirecTV, but the consensus seems to be that it will translate to about $1 million per team per year. That kind of chump change won't even buy you a top middle reliever anymore. But those of you who are losing access to your beloved team's games can console yourself with the fact that the commissioner of baseball is a compassionate man who empathizes with your loss...

...Or not. Actually, Selig was quoted in Saturday's Chicago Tribune that the hullabaloo over the pending deal was "ridiculous" and that it was nothing more than "a slight controversy, in some places." Yes, you have it right. The commissioner of baseball is actually taunting fans who are upset at losing access to their team's games. Selig elaborates further to the Tribune's Paul Sullivan:

I've heard for years we have too much product out there.

Everywhere I've gone ... there's no market that has less than 350 to 400 [televised] games, and some [like Chicago] have quite a bit more than that. We have an enormous amount of product out there.

As for this deal, what fascinates me is I have spent a lot of time going over it and trying to find out who can't get [DirecTV].

We're down now to such small numbers, that I'm really wondering [about the fuss].

... In a year or two, when people understand the significance of this deal ... everybody will understand it.

So there's your answer. If you move to a different part of the country, change your life-long allegiance to the local nine and kwityerbitchin'. How dare you refuse to see the significance of this deal to Bud and his cronies!

I've always been amused at how baseball will refer to something they are doing that others question as simply a business deal. Major League Baseball is not just any business. Owning a baseball team has little to do with competing in the free market as most businesses do. As a business, team owners enjoy some extraordinary advantages. They need to realize that there are also extra responsibilities involved -- at least pay a little lip service to it.

MLB has thumbed their collective noses at some of their most loyal fans, and their commisoner is an insensitive dolt that can't even acknowledge that or come off as the least bit empathetic. Not only does Bud not care that you're upset -- he's mad at you for not appreciating the "significance" of his deal.

There are some in the baseball media who wonder why Bud Selig doesn't get more admiration and love from baseball fans for all that he has accomplished as commissioner. The simple truth is that he doesn't garner respect because he doesn't give it. We don't like Bud because we recognize that he doesn't give a damn about us. Hell, he can't even be bothered to pretend to care. Bud just doesn't get it, and never will. That's his true legacy as commissioner.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (21)

Call me a romantic, but Bud Lite couldn't carry Bart Giamatti's jockstrap. That man was one of the few sports commissioners who loved the game he led.

By the way, didya see the little wrinkle Willie threw into his lineup this afternoon against the Tribe? Wright 2nd, Alou 5th, LoDuca down to 6th.

I'm not convinced Alou should get the fifth slot, and I don't think LoDuca deserves to drop down to 6. But as for David batting second, me likey.

...absolutely insane!! Asking a budding slugger like Wright to take two and hit to right so Reyes has a chance to steal is ludicrous, and flies in the face of common sense. Hope Willie is just playing with the lineup in the Spring...

Color me "strange," but I don't base my choice of TV and broadband feed solely on the availability of a sport that plays one half of a year, and never will. When I hear the FAN's Mad Dog ranting about people down in Florida who'll miss out on games because they chose the wrong condo, telling them they should now MOVE if they love the Mets so much (rather than be ticked off at MLB for not offering its product through cable and satellite,) I feel the whole thing's slipped into the Twilight Zone.

We're not talking about choosing between VHS and Beta-Max here. MLB signs bigger-dollar contracts with alternating broadcast and cable feeds for games, especially the post-season. There's no legit reason they can't continue to satisfy fans across the country by providing "MLB Extra Innings" via the feed of their choice. If they go to an exclusive deal with satellite, it's a giant step back towards 1994, and we all know how long it took them to recover from that debacle.

MLB Offices: (212) 931-7800

InDemand advertised Extra Innings as a way to "follow your favorite team or player". Remember all those MLB commercials during the 06' playoffs, "just because your team didn't make the playoffs doesn't mean you shouldn't watch"?

Apparently Bud "there's plenty of baseball on tv already" Selig has found a new way to get baseball fans to follow their "new" [local] teams to try to boost interest and attendance in less- popular teams.

I think they are underestimating the number of households that "can't/ won't" switch from cable to a dish. Supposedly there are 230K subscribers of cable & other satellite companies that subscribed last year. I'll estimate less than 1/3 will convert to DirecTV. Sure, there are homeowners but many people "displaced" to other parts of the country live in condos & apts (retired folks) & college dorms.

Once DirecTV & MLB.com become the sole source of Extra Innings, what will stop them from raising rates 2 or 3X over in 2008 [to make up for the lost subscribers]?

I got extra innings the last two years. I get SNY so I didnt get it for my favorite team, I just got it for the games. Its decent the first half of the year when all the teams are still in it , but after all star break its not the same.. Alot of the important games make it to espn and fox. Maybee one day you will be able to pay for your teams games all year regardless of anything.... At least its march and theres games on again... Its going to be a good year, just no walkaway like last year.......

for those who are going to say 'but I live in a condo' well guess what? you have the LAW on your side for once. http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html Your condo board CAN NOT prevent you from installing directv.

Selig is a joke. He's been trying to tap into ever last cent he can get his hands on at the expense of his own fan base.

Two years ago his MLB Advanced Media, a shill company for Major League Baseball, tried to put hundreds of fantasy leagues out of business by telling them they had to pay for access to boxscores. Their fees were based on the number of leagues they ran and how much their gross earnings were.

The prices they wanted to charge were going to shut most of them down. A few of them got together and took MLB to court, and after a few months a judge decided that box scores were public domain and anyone can freely use the statistical information that came from them.

The point is they cared nothing for the 2 million fans that loved the game and played fantasy baseball.

Now they are forcing all the teams to wear these re-deisgned baseball caps this spring in hopes that fans will go out and buy them for $35 bucks each. They even went as far as to change the look of the hallowed Yankees hat much to the horror of Yankee fans everywhere (hee hee hee).

Bottom line...

Selig is a total sell-out, a disgrace to the game, and the worst thing ever to happen to baseball.

And just for your information, I can't stand the "home field advantage" rule for the winner of the All-Star Game.

NostraDennis - With due respect to David, I'm sure you're not insane, but you need to stop smoking crack. Ah, maybe you are crazy...
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David - I have to admit I'm with you in leaving Wright alone in an RBI position.
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geezer - Agreed. Based on the amount of money, limiting choice for their best customers was a bad move for MLB.
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M.Moore - I really don't think they care about losing a few thousand subscribers. They obviously don't care about pissing off the real fans for that matter. And I agree that the price is likely to go up when DTV has an exclusive. They're paying a lot for this deal.
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Bean - It is good to have games back.
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Gene - Thanks for the tip.
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Joe - Don't even get me started thinking about that stupid home field advantage for the WS...

I could gobble up all your bandwidth airing the many ways that Bud Selig displeases me, so I'll leave that subject alone.

...and lead with another negative thought. The Mets site has Oliver Perez looking strong in his second outing yesterday, but I had another opinion. It seemed to me that every right handed batter he faced yesterday was anxious to get to the plate and comfortable when he got there. Several of them climbed onto Perez' first offering, resulting in the hits that gave the Indians their run, and a couple of very loud fouls as well.

The results were all right for Perez yesterday, but I can easily imagine the same stuff resulting in a five run inning. Perez will have to execute some different approach to the right handed batters, if he intends to make the rotation.

Just keeping score of the REAL contest over here.

David Willins - You may be right. I may be crazy.

I'm not saying Wright hitting second is a permanent solution for the Mets. I'm just saying that if it was the way Willie went, there would be a bunch of positives:

* Over the course of a season, a #2 hitter gets about 50 more plate appearances than a #5 hitter; more ABs, more hits, more production.

* Hitting behind Reyes gives a hitter more opportunity to hit with runners in scoring position every time Jose swipes a base; more RBI's, more production.

* Hitting with Reyes on base divides a pitcher's attention, which could lead to more mistake pitches; more hits, more production.

* If Wright's second half power numbers last year were as good as his first half numbers, this idea wouldn't be mildly insane, it would be absolutely insane, as you say. Willie was just tinkering, so his players could get a taste of different places in the lineup. Flexibility is not a bad thing.

The big down side to this move would be that it takes away from the bottom half of the lineup. I wouldn't do it permanently, but in the right situation, say, against a starter whose number Wright has had in the past, it's an intriguing idea. But what do I know? I'm just a rodeo clown.

I actually like Bud Selig I think he gets too much flack even though he's actually done ALOT for the game but that response he gave with the whole...

"We're down now to such small numbers, that I'm really wondering [about the fuss].

... In a year or two, when people understand the significance of this deal ... everybody will understand it."

It seems like a big F.U. This doesn't affect me, I really wanted to get Extra Innings but its not big deal, no big loss to me, whatever. But I just don't like people "talking" to me like I'm some sort of stupid and irrelevant piece of crap. That's a very offensive answer, what an asshole.

What significance of the deal are we not understanding? It's not a NEW service. It's the same service only available in a more limited venue. If he means an all baseball channel then well its still going to be limited to a certain number, and what's so hard about making a baseball channel available with other services.

I think this is just the first step in getting everyone to use their MLB TV online subscription. Those cable users don't have to change to DTV, just subscribe to the MLB package online and see those out-of-market games. Maybe in a few years they will cut out the middle man altogether and have everyone except the local networks go through them.

The way high speed broadband has advanced it makes a lot of sense. Getting clear HD over IP is not far away. Not that I agree with it but it does make sense for them.

dd - A friend of mine was really excited that Perez had a decent outing yesterday. I told him to calm down and let the spring play out. I prefer not to judge him on every single start in spring training. I think they're having him throw a lot of strikes, and the hitters were sitting on the first pitch expecting that. However, can we just give the guy a few starts before we start making definitive judgements?
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NostraDennis - I hope those voices in your head provide you with the nice company that mine do...
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benny - Selig does do a lot of good things, but then he opens his mouth. I just think this is a money grab, unless you believe getting the MLB channel on the basic tier for DirecTV viewers will make a huge impact.
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Sam - The problem, as I see it, is that most people don't want to watch a season of baseball on their computer monitor. Someday all of our tv may be streamed through some super broadband, but that isn't here yet.

It will make a big impact, both financially for MLB and for the fans. I mean wouldn't we all just absolutely LOVE an all baseball channel?
24/7 baseball? that's heaven.

I like the idea of the MLB channel, too, but just because DirecTV will carry it on their basic tier doesn't mean that much. I'm talking about that, not the channel itself.

For me, Selig's a hero for restructuring the divisions, introducing the Wild Card, encouraging the creation of modern, fan-friendlier stadiums across the country, helping to get baseball out of Montreal and into D.C. and helping to facilitate the highly successful post-'94 recovery that's brought back fans and revenue to record levels. He's a goat for allowing '94 to happen in the first place (though he certainly doesn't deserve all the blame,) looking the other way re steroids and instituting the utterly stupid All-Star winner's home field advantage in the WS.

Up to this cable vs. satellite thing, he was batting better than .500, IMO. Sad to think the previous good will suffer disproportionately.

Mike,
I only can comment on my situation. I now live in philly country and without MLB extra innings i would have been unable to watch the Mets last year. Now i'm relocating to florida and will be further removed from my Mets. For work reasons, I have the need for high speed cable at home. No one I know has ever complimented direct tv on it's internet service and dsl is out of the question for me. It is inconcievable that Selig would simply ignore 30% of the audience for this service. Maybe I'll get satelite radio and just listen to the games this year.

I live in Atlanta and being a Mets man it's already hard to get games down here. Even when the Mets are on FOX or ESPN, if the Braves are scheduled at the same time guess what, you won't see the Mets. Last year I got MLB Extrainnings and I thought it was great, plus I got to see the majority of out of market games for other teams after the Mets games. I am a subscriber to Comcast (which by the way is a big rip-off) and when I called them this past February to order MLB Extrainnings, they said Direct TV is carrying the games this year. Of course you know I don't mind making the jump, especially if means seeing the Mets. My concern is what is to stop Direct TV from boosting the price once they get wind of the number of subscribers who will move from Comcast soley on the pretext of watching their out of market favorite team. It's all about the dollar and I call shananigans on Major League Baseball and Bud (I'm in it for the buck) Selig. Bring back free T.V. at once!

I'd consider mlb.tv, but the "sample" is in a tiny inset box. Is this what I'd see if I subscribed ? I'd probably go for it if I got full screen on my computer. Does anyone know if that's possible ?

geezer - He's definitely done some things right as a commissioner, but he's always been his worst enemy when it comes to p.r.
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john - Funny you should say that. If I lived out of state, I'd go the satellite radio route myself.
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L. J. - With what DTV is paying for this contract, I'd be shock if they didn't go up on the package price.
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I have no experience with MLB.tv. Can anyone help Barry out with his question?

As per Bean's comments on 3/5/07 - I live in a condo and that FCC Law doesn't pertain to us if in the Buy Laws of the Condo it bans them. I tried that route.

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