On Tuesday, April 22, the Dodgers will be hosting one of their more popular giveaway nights. The first 40,000 fans arriving at the stadium will receive a beautifully designed fleece blanket.
I've received a number of these blankets over the years, and they truly are a fantastic gift from the Dodgers. Their popularity is because they're a good size, the fleece is soft, and they feature a unique design for each season. Here's what this year's blanket looks like:
|Pretty snappy design, right?|
This year's blanket features the cities - and various pockets of people inside and around those cities - that make up Los Angeles County. I counted the names of 287 unique locations.
What's most interesting to me about this blanket is the irony of a giveaway that promotes where Dodger fans can certainly be found in great numbers, at a time when roughly 70% of the the Dodger fanbase in and around L.A. has absolutely no access to watching games on TV at home or even in the local sportsbar.
Just try to wrap your head around this example: When the Dodgers go out on the road even the venerable Vin Scully can't watch them on TV! A perfect storm of greed - yes, greed - involving pay TV, corporate baseball, and the Dodgers themselves has brought us to this strange and frustrating place.
It wasn't always like this. Walter O' Malley knew right from the get-go that TV was how to grow fans and keep 'em. My earliest baseball memories are of watching the Boys in Blue while sitting right beside my dad. I was raised watching the Dodgers battle the Giants in Candlestick Park on a tiny black and white set, with Scully, the master, teaching me how to absorb the game in all of its glory.
Up until this season, the Dodgers sold games to a local television station, allowing access to free games (50 last season) over the air. I suppose this mostly benefited those without cable subscriptions. But that's all over now. The Dodgers have the new status of being the ONLY major-market team without any free TV broadcasts of their games.
Forget about turning on the Dodger game once in a while for your kids, all you struggling single mothers and unemployed dads. Forget about enjoying your long beloved team the only way you can, all you senior citizens on fixed incomes or with limited mobility. You starving college students and potential new fans will never have access to the Dodgers over free TV again. They tell us that's the new way of doing business.
Even if you have cable TV, unless you subscribe to the one company that has exclusive rights to the Dodger games, you're blacked out from the home team. All of this taken away at a time when it costs about $225 to take a family of four out to enjoy ONE SINGLE GAME. Heck, even the evil McCourt empire never pulled that one on us.
All of this has led me to figure the aforementioned fleece blanket should reflect the reality of the Dodger fan's plight. Since only 30% of the fans have access to games on TV, it might be a little more accurate if the blanket only contained 30% of the listings. I counted 287 places, so let's drop 200, roughly 70% of the names. Here's our updated design...
One thing the Dodgers did get right however, was in limiting the giveaway to 40,000. With most of the Dodger Nation being blacked-out of our home team's games, 40,000 is probably the TV viewership on a good day.
It seems blankets aren't the only things being fleeced in Los Angeles this season. The fans are as well.