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MLB rubbing fans wrong way with DirectTV deal

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In case you haven't heard, Major League Baseball is closing in on a deal with DirectTV that would give the satellite television provider exclusive rights to the Extra Innings Package, which allows viewers to watch out-of-market games.

Extra Innings had previously been offered through InDemand pay-per-view, which allowed cable companies to carry the product as well.

So now if you live in Florida -- or any state for that matter -- and want to watch an out-of-town team, you are going to have to switch over to DirectTV to get the Extra Innings package.

DirectTV is only available to 15 million households, whereas now 75 million households can access the Extra Innings package through cable. So why would MLB do such a deal?

The simple answer, as it always seems to be in these cases, is money. MLB will get an extra $30 million a year from DirectTV, in addition to their own 24- hour television channel down the road.

Fans around the country are outraged over this. I could care less. I have DirectTV, it is head and shoulders better than cable, and I was going to get the Extra Innings package anyway. So it doesn't really affect me. And let's be honest, that is really all I care about.

I can see why people are in such a huff, though. How about the guy living in an apartment complex that won't allow DirectTV? He is up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Unless he wants to hit a local bar 162 times a year.

The NFL has the same deal with DirectTV, but nobody seems to question that agreement. Why? Well, I guess because the Sunday Ticket package has been DirectTV exclusive all along. And God forbid anyone questions anything that the almighty NFL does.

It's a business. End of story. What do you do when a restaurant you eat at changes their menu and takes your favorite meal away? You order something else or you go to a different restaurant. That's exactly what people will do when Extra Innings makes the switch to DirecTV if they want to catch the games. DirectTV is a better product anyway.

You have to hand it to the NFL, though. Its deal with DirectTV pays it close to $700 million a year. MLB, on the other hand, will reportedly get $700 million over the course of the seven-year deal.

Which one is America's Pastime, by the way?

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has spoken out about this topic and plans to raise the matter with the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Kerry, though, can complain all he wants. The FCC has no jurisdiction over non-broadcast TV.

Way to worry about the country's important issues. Way to worry about the nation's big problems, Senator.

Kerry, by the way, was in favor of the deal a few weeks ago.

BONDS BACK TO THE GIANTS: NOT A DONE DEAL JUST YET

Nothing that Barry Bonds does is free of controversy. Even a simple thing as signing his name seems to be a problem these days.

On Monday, the Giants announced Bonds would continue his chase towards Hank Aaron's home run record with them next season, as he signed a one-year deal worth a reported $15.8 million.

However, MLB has apparently rejected the contract because of a conflict involving a public-appearance provision. MLB.com reported the personal- provisions clause the Giants added to Bonds' contract contradicts the language in the basic agreement between the Players Association and owners.

The Giants re-worded some items and re-drafted a new contract that is MLBPA- friendly and sent it to Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris. However, Borris stated that his client will not sign the revised documents.

In addition to wanting Bonds to be more organizational-friendly, it appears the Giants were trying to protect themselves in case Bonds gets indicted on perjury charges.

Borris agreed to a provision that would allow the Giants to terminate the deal if Bonds is indeed indicted in the BALCO steroids case, because he felt it wasn't enforceable. He believes the collective bargaining agreement supersedes the "Giants' unilateral assertions."

We already know Bonds is a bad teammate and has used drugs. Now are we to believe that he won't stand by a written agreement as well? As if anyone didn't know by now, the Giants are dealing with a zero in the game of life here.

This is what I think happened. Bonds agreed to the original deal knowing full well the CBA would protect him from anything should he be indicted. The Giants probably knew this too, but wanted to look good from a public relations standpoint just in case anything comes of the federal investigation. The thing neither side took into account was MLB rejecting the deal. Now both sides are scrambling.

The thing is, by hook or by crook, this deal will get done. As I have said a million times, both sides have invested too much time in this home run chase to bail out now.

Stay tuned.

SAMMY BACK IN THE LEAGUE

Speaking of steroids, Sammy Sosa is back in the league after a one-year "self- imposed" hiatus.

The Texas Rangers, who originally signed Sosa as a non-drafted free agent in 1985, and the former MVP agreed to a minor-league deal earlier this week. The 38-year-old, who last appeared in the majors in 2005 with Baltimore, had been working out in the Dominican Republic.

A seven-time All-Star and the 1998 National League MVP, Sosa struggled with the Orioles two years ago, hitting just 14 homers with 45 runs batted in and a .221 batting average in 102 games.

Sosa, of course, experienced his biggest success with the Chicago Cubs from 1992 through 2004. He bashed 66 home runs as part of the memorable record chase with Mark McGwire in 1998 and followed it up with 63 homers in 1999. He also broke the 60-homer barrier in 2001 with 64 round-trippers.

Has anyone let Sammy know that steroids and corked bats are still illegal?

SUPER BOWL PICK

I heard there is a big football game being played in Miami this weekend. In case anyone is interested I like the Colts to win big, and when I say big, I mean by the seven points they are laying. I also like the over for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing, which I am not of course.


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