Baseball? I Thought We'd Finished That Task
Sunday's rally to beat down the TV blackout of the Washington Nationals was a model of bipartisan, regional harmony, a rare sign of what politicians can do when they find themselves reasonably united with the public on an issue of widespread, if not exactly earthshattering, concern.
Gathered at RFK Stadium were Repos and Dems from Virginia and Maryland--Virginia congressmen Tom Davis (R) and Jim Moran (D), Maryland state legislators Anthony Brown and Peter Franchot, and Virginia delegate Brian Moran--all seeking to pressure Comcast cable and Peter Angelos' Mid-Atlantic Sports Network into reaching a deal to televise the games of the Nationals this summer.
But something was missing from the Sunday event: Any representation from the jurisdiction that the Nats call home. No Mayor Tony Williams. Not one of the five candidates running to succeed him. Not one of the 13 council members who have spent most of their waking hours over the past year wrangling over the new stadium and other baseball issues.
As Ian Koski of NationalsPride.com points out, Davis' threat to hold congressional hearings if Comcast and Angelos don't kiss and make up could help push this problem toward a solution, but the lack of interest on the part of D.C. officials doesn't exactly help.
Once again, the split between city and suburbs over a baseball franchise that exists primarily to provide economic aid to the District is evident and embarrassing. As mayoral candidate and stadium opponent Adrian Fenty repeatedly says, he and others on the council opposed the stadium deal but supposedly embrace the idea of having baseball here, and now that it is here, it behooves them to do what they can to make it a success. That means building a fan base, both in the burbs and in town. And there's no way that happens without putting the games on TV.
Of course, Angelos, still fighting a quixotic battle against a Washington franchise that he believes will sap support from his hapless Orioles, knows that too, so he's not exactly eager to get Nats games on the region's largest cable provider. And Comcast has its own selfish reasons for refusing to carry the games--the cable behemoth wants to maintain its near-monopoly on local sports coverage and prevent Angelos from establishing MASN as a 24-hour sports channel.
The latest news from the courts, however, makes it more unlikely than ever that any appreciable number of Nats games will be on TV this season. Maryland's highest court has decided to take on the legal dispute between MASN and Comcast, which is good news in that the legal process has been accelerated and will skip one level of appeals courts. But it's bad news in that the briefs aren't due from the lawyers until June 19, and the court won't hold a hearing until sometime after that, so unless MASN and Comcast have a miraculous meeting of the minds (or at least the wallets) before then, this baby is likely to drag on through the summer, meaning no baseball on TV this year.
The current TV schedule will put about as many New York Yankees games on Washington area TV screens as Washington Nationals games. For those of us who grew up in the Bronx and love those Bombers, that's welcome news. For the other 99.9 percent of D.C. area fans, that's pretty galling.
How to turn this around: Tom Davis and the other pols who spent their Sunday afternoon before the TV cameras at RFK need to buckle down and make good on their threat. Holding Comcast and Angelos up to public scorn and the prospect of federal regulatory hell is about the only weapon they'll understand.
By Marc Fisher |
March 28, 2006; 12:49 PM ET
Previous: Excuse Me, Sen. Allen, Before You Can Run for President, You Have to Deal with This Pesky Little Thing--An Election | Next: I've Heard of Slow Baking But This is Ridiculous
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Matt | March 28, 2006 2:21 PM
Posted by: Meridian | March 28, 2006 3:20 PM
Posted by: Keith | March 28, 2006 3:27 PM
Posted by: Meridian | March 28, 2006 4:14 PM
Posted by: Jorge | March 28, 2006 5:39 PM
Posted by: SW Resident | March 28, 2006 5:43 PM
Posted by: Patrick | March 28, 2006 10:36 PM
Posted by: Jacknut | March 29, 2006 10:59 AM
Posted by: northzax | March 29, 2006 12:34 PM
Posted by: RL | March 29, 2006 1:05 PM
Posted by: PJS | March 31, 2006 2:53 PM
Posted by: Confused | April 7, 2006 12:57 PM
Posted by: Former Republican | April 7, 2006 8:56 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.