Tuesday, April 7, 2009


DOG DAYS ARE NIGH: Feel free to skip today’s rant- it has nothing to do with politics, government or anything in which regular readers might be interested. But it did take up our whole morning’s research/prep time so it’s all we have ready to go.

In a round about way it’s about baseball- specifically Major League Baseball (MLB)... dot com.

We’ve been a San Francisco Giants fan ever since they were the New York Giants when our best friend’s big brother- he was four- sat us two year olds on the floor and repeated over and over “f—k da Dahjas” to which we’d each time respond “f—k the Dahjas” until we were fully indoctrinated in Giant fandom

They won the World Series that year- and never since- but we stuck with them even when they broke our hearts and moved to the left coast three years later.

And because we’re stuck with only LA Angels and Dodgers’ games on Oceanic Time Warner’s cable system throughout the state, it being opening day for the Giants, we decided to fork over $109.95 to get the MLB.TV package of “all out of market” games so we could get from the end of college basketball season until football season by watching the Giants’ games.

We signed up- and even got the premium package- rather painlessly and at precisely 9:59 a.m. clicked on the Giants game.

And the screen said “We’re sorry. You have chosen a game that is not available in your television market”.

Huh? Something’s surely wrong. The Giants are not our “TV market- the Dodgers and Angels are.”

We found a place to input our zip code and sure enough the only team listed was the Giants- not the Dodgers, not the angels only the Giants.

Surely they’ll want to know that something’s awry- they are apparently in violation of MLB policy.

Yeah, right Parx.

So we looked and looked and looked some more and finally found a customer service number.

“We’re sorry due to the high volume of calls your wait will be longer than usual” the machine told us with all the sincerity of the U.S. Apology for the overthrow. “Please stay on the line- your call is very important to us.”

Well apparently it was less important than others’ calls because after 15 minutes of repetition of the message we heard “All circuits are busy- please try your call again later” followed by that screeching sound you hear when the phone is off the hook.

What ever happened to the dial tome they get in the movies when someone hangs up on you?

Anyway, after scouring the web site further we found a note at the end of the blackout policy- not the one you can find by clicking through from the site but one only available in the confirmation email they sent- that, after listing the number from which we had been unceremoniously dumped, said if you are having trouble with blackout and you are traveling to a different market area, call a different number.

We did and presto- at last a human being. We were sure we’d be watching the Giants games within minutes.

“Larry” sat patiently through our p-o’d rant about the other number and even our “f—k da Dahjas” story before telling us that yes, the Giants games were in fact available on TV in Hawai`i because, well, MLB says so.

Despite the urge to scream “what am I a freakin’ liar- do you think I get my jollies calling customer service lines and makin’ s—t up?” I calmly explained about Oceanic Time Warner state wide cablecasts on Channels 20 and 31 of the Dodgers' and Angels' games and no Giants games and even read him the MLB policy on blackouts that said “live games will be blacked out in each applicable Club's home television territory”.

“Sorry- Major League baseball says the Giants games are blacked out in your area because they are your TV market” he repeated.

“No they aren’t- IT’S A MISTAKE, ya know as in wrong, not correct information, done in error ”.

At first we were offered an email response later and a tracking number and after some more “M-I-S-T-A-K-E” banter he finally put us on hold and came back to connect us to “Josh”.

After regaling Josh with the liturgy to that point, Josh actually told us “major league baseball doesn’t make mistakes” before entertaining us with a cock and bull story about all the “legal people” who had okayed the blackout in each market.

“But they’re wrong- wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong- We do not get Giants games on TV”.

“Perhaps your cable system has the rights to all the west coast games and just doesn’t carry them” he said.

Oh great- now he’s makin’ stuff up.

“No”, we said “ we’ve asked the cable company many times and they tell us they would love to broadcast more than one market’s games but MLB assigns them the LA market and disallows cable companies from carrying more than one ‘home market’ at a time and has assigned us the LA area because it is geographically the closest”

“We’ll maybe THEY don’t know that San Francisco is their home market” he said.

Oh great now he’s calling the cable company AND me liars. Sure, they’ve been televising the wrong games for 20 years and nobody said anything until now.

Sad to say even after 20 more minutes of that he said that still, there was nothing he could do and to take it up with MLB.

Yeah- I’ll just ring up my buddy Commissioner Bud Selwig.

“Oh great- do you have a number where we can ask about this?” we asked him.

“There’s a customer service number at their web site”.

Where I’m sure they’ll leave us on hold for an hour before hanging up on us.. if they don’t answer and laugh at us for questioning the infallibility of the all-knowing all-seeing omnipotent and omniscient Major League Baseball.

Well, we cancelled our subscription and will go back to holding the radio out the window to hear the Honolulu station that occasionally picks up the Giant games.

Whatever- Giants suck again this year anyway. And with the Knicks and Rangers looking more “out of the playoffs” every day we’ll slip into TV sports hibernation for the summer as we used to do back in the dark ages of communications technology.

We’ll just wait patiently for football season where the other Giants- the ones that only moved to New Jersey- might field a team good enough to get picked up on Hawai`i TV at 7 a.m. Sunday mornings.... we just love it when we over-sleep and wake-up at 7:30 to find our team 21 points down before we’ve even had coffee.

There- rant over... and we can’t tell you how particularly unsatisfying it was.

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