Friday, July 24, 2020

I LOVE Comcast!

It's Opening Day, and I can watch it! Overnight, the Cubs and Comcast came to a (literally) last minute agreement and I can see Kyle Hendricks toss out the first pitch of this abbreviated Cubs season.

Last year, the Cubs and their long, LONG time network, WGN, amicably parted company. It made sense for WGN because they want to be viewed as a national channel and carrying the Cubs and the Blackhawks is just a bit too local. Also, with 160 games in the (regular) regular MLB season and 80+ (under normal circumstances) for the NHL, that's a lot of broadcast time to dedicate. So while I didn't like it, I got it.

What I didn't understand was the Cubs next move. Instead of signing a deal with the local ABC affiliate or the NBC Sports channel, who both appeared very willing, they started their own cable channel: The Marquee Sports Network. Maybe that was a good idea. In this cut-the-cord environment, I'm not so sure, but there are people more learned than I advising them.

But they got super greedy. They immediately cut a deal with AT&T and went on to (pardon the pun) play hardball with Comcast/Xfinity, and the vast majority of fans in Chicago have Comcast. They were asking what Comcast considered an unreasonable amount, and Comcast kept saying "no."

The Ricketts family, who owns the Cubs, was betting that we would follow our team anywhere. And we are fabulously loyal. But we can also read.

Marquee Network is part of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Aka "Trump TV." This isn't surprising, since the Ricketts family is all-in with our President. That's their right. I don't approve of toxic FOX/Sinclair News, but then my recourse is to simply get my news elsewhere.

But I'm not switching from Comcast to support that swill. Comcast has given me good service in every sense of the word -- including MSNBC, which is the antithesis of FOX/Sinclair -- and I'm not leaving, even for my Cubs. I was prepared to just watch games on my computer or listen on the radio. (See post below.)

Apparently I'm not the only Cubs fan of conscience, because the mass exodus from Comcast to AT&T just didn't happen. And things just started getting harder and harder for Cubs management.

•  The pandemic, part 1. With the ballpark closed to the public, they're not getting revenue from ticket sales, hotdogs and parking. They need whatever Comcast is willing to pay.

•  The pandemic, part 2. We need baseball. We're sad, we're confused. We're in the midst of a virus that can kill us and racial unrest that can kill us and baseball is America's game. Keeping it from us to gouge Comcast is not a good look for the Ricketts family.

•  Trump. He's sending Federal troops to Chicago to ... well, that's not clear. He keeps talking about lawless gangs of immigrants and everyone here knows that is not the root of the gun violence plaguing our city. It's illegal guns flooding in from neighboring states with lax gun laws and it's young men dealing drugs because they can't find work. If Trump wants to send ATF to get the guns off the streets, that would be helpful. If he wants to do something about infrastructure and add shovel-ready jobs to the economy, that would be even better! But instead his reckless talk is dissing and endangering our citizens for cheap political points. Trump's timing regarding Chicago could not be worse for the Cubs management, especially poor Todd Ricketts, the RNC fundraising chairman. (I can just imagine his siblings boxing Todd's ears and yelling, "You're supposed to stop Trump from doing stupid shit like this!")

So last night, the Ricketts family blinked. And this morning, just 12 hours away from the first pitch, Marquee was on Channel 202!

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