Blacked-out Dodger fans plan protest for 3 p.m. Sunday.

Dodgers fans are taking their complaints to the streets.

A public protest of the Dodgers’ television deal has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday outside The Short Stop bar. The protest will follow a route to the corner of Sunset and Elysian Park, then up the hill to the intersection of Stadium Way and Elysian Park.

According to a press release from FansRising.com, the various cable and satellite providers around Los Angeles not carrying SportsNet LA have left an estimated seven in 10 viewers unable to watch games.

The campaign has 3,039 fan signatures. FansRising.com says that hundreds have RSVP’d for the protest.

The news comes as former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire, in an interview with Yahoo! Sports Radio on Friday, called the Time Warner standoff a “tipping point” from a business standpoint.

Claire, who teaches a Sports Business course at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, called the lack of traction for Time Warner “a major, major problem for the business of sports. … There is always the assumption that the fan will pay.”

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti joins the chorus calling for SportsNet LA in more homes.

From the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti chided Time Warner Cable at an industry gathering Tuesday for not reaching deals with other TV providers so all fans of the Dodgers could watch the team’s games.

The Dodgers are more than a month into their regular season and so far only customers of Time Warner Cable Inc., its partner Bright House Networks, and a small operator called Champion Broadband have been able to see them.

That leaves out subscribers of major providers such as DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon and AT&T.

The contract to broadcast Dodgers games, which had long been with Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket regional sports network, was snatched up Time Warner Cable Inc. last year in a deal estimated to be worth $7 billion over the next two decades.

Garcetti used a keynote speech at the Cable Show industry conference to press for a deal.

“I hope that we can resolve the fact that our home town baseball team, the Dodgers, is not currently seen on all of our boxes around the city,” he said.

Daily Distractions: Alexander Guerrero’s short practice window opens now.

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero said he already feels comfortable playing second base. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Different players have told me on different occasions that only pitchers and catchers need a good four weeks-plus of spring training. Hitters don’t need nearly as much time to prepare for a season — maybe a week or two, as a general rule, if they’re in shape.

There are exceptions to the rule. Alex Guerrero is one.

Guerrero only played 12 games in the Dominican Winter League because of a nagging hamstring injury. That’s simply not enough games to expect the 27-year-old to transform into the Dodgers’ Opening Day second baseman after playing shortstop his entire career. Even Superman doesn’t change capes that fast.

Guerrero will take the field today as the Dodgers’ starting second baseman against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first Cactus League game for both clubs. (Most other clubs begin playing games no sooner than Friday, since most clubs don’t start the season in the Southern Hemisphere.) Second base is the only Opening Day position remotely up for grabs — unless you count the starting pitcher — so it will be a primary focus on the field, starting today.

In an intrasquad game Sunday, Guerrero flawlessly charged a ground ball, picked it up on the run, and threw across his body to retire the runner at first base. He looked like a second baseman. If Guerrero looks that smooth in today’s game, it will be in large part because of the four lonely weeks he spent fielding ground balls at Camelback Ranch before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.

“I’ve practiced enough that it comes naturally to me,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “Training’s always going to be different than the game, but I feel comfortable.”

The Dodgers have 19 days’ worth of games — 21 in all — before leaving for Australia. Guerrero said it will be “very important” for him to see game action over the next three weeks at second base. But it’s not as if he’s picking up where he left off Dec. 12, his final Dominican Winter League game.

After receiving his United States work visa and entering the country on Jan. 13, Guerrero came to Camelback Ranch and got to work.

“I feel so much more comfortable at second now … than I did in the Dominican,” he said. “I feel like it’s natural to me now.”

Some bullet points for a National Pistachio Day:
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SportsNet LA releases details about its initial night of programming.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will work the first Dodgers spring training telecast on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers announced the programming lineup for launch night of SportsNet LA, the team-owned network set to debut next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The evening will begin with “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” followed by the inaugural episode of “Backstage: Dodgers,” back-to-back “Connected With…” interview shows featuring Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly and a one-hour retrospective special about last year’s season.

Among the other “prominent Dodger personalities” that will be featured that night are co-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson, broadcaster Vin Scully, and special advisor Tommy Lasorda.

SportsNet LA is still attempting to find carriers in addition to Time Warner. As of right now, only Time Warner subscribers will be able to tune in when the network goes live. A spokesperson for the network said that the channel number still hasn’t been announced.

Here are some more details, provided by the team, about SportsNet LA’s debut-night programs:

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SportsNet LA announces its full slate of non-game programs.

SportsNet LA announced its full slate of programming to fill in the hours between Dodger games and replays of Dodger games.

“Access SportsNet: Dodgers” is the signature evening program; details about the show were released 10 days ago.

“Leadoff LA,” “Dodgers Clubhouse,” “Connected With,” “Talkin’ Blue,” “Dodgermentary,” “Timeless Dodgers” and “Dodgers Squeeze Play” will fill out the network’s lineup. All are set to air starting Feb. 25. DodgerInsider.com has a brief description of each show.

Team president Stan Kasten is proud of the fact that the network is a Dodgers-only affair, but how long will that be the case?

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If Magic Johnson buys the Sparks, will the Dodgers’ network have a second tenant?

A press conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow involving representatives of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson. The Sparks are up for sale. Johnson has money.

That’s about all we know at the moment. Connect the dots at your own leisure.

Here’s what we don’t know:
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Vin Scully will call first game on SportsNet LA, which will televise spring training games every day.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will work the first Dodgers spring training telecast on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers’ new network will have games every day of spring training, beginning with its inaugural telecast of the Cactus League opener between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Vin Scully will be behind the mic for the first game televised on SportsNet LA, scheduled for noon Pacific Time on Feb. 26.

“It is an incredible honor to have the remarkable opportunity to call the very first game on the Dodger network,” Scully said in a statement released by the team. “The Dodgers’ new ownership group has done a wonderful job assembling a team to make SportsNet LA what every Dodger fan deserves, a television network just for them. I’m humbled to be a part of it.”
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Daily Distractions: SportsNet LA officially launches on February 25.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will call all the Dodgers games in California and Arizona on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

It’s official. SportsNetLA exists.

The network has a website but it doesn’t have an actual studio yet — that’s under construction in El Segundo as I type. The network doesn’t even have a live channel; the official launch date is Feb. 25, one day before the Dodgers’ first Cactus League game. By then, Time Warner and its 2-plus million subscribers in Southern California are guaranteed to not miss a game. AT&T, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Dish and Verizon FiOS customers don’t have that luxury yet.

The message splashed across the top of the website, in all caps — “DEMAND YOUR DODGERS NOW” — seems to anticipate a conflict. When the Lakers broke off their relationship with Fox in 2012 to launch their own channel (TWC SportsNet), non-TWC customers were unable to watch games well into the season. The millions of Laker fans who didn’t subscribe to Time Warner became a group of angry nomads, left to seek out homes, bars, restaurants and pirate internet feeds that carried the games until their provider agreed to pay for the new channel.

Dodger fans, this could be you soon. We don’t know.

Here’s what we do know:

1. Vin Scully will broadcast all the Dodgers’ games in California and Arizona for the third straight year. Charley Steiner (who moves over from the radio play-by-play chair) and analyst Orel Hershiser (who moves over from eight years with ESPN) will call the games that Scully does not.

2. Nomar Garciaparra and Rick Monday will be the new Dodgers’ radio team on 570-AM.

3. Garciaparra and Jerry Hairston Jr. will contribute to SportsNet LA’s pre- and post-game coverage, both live from the stadium and from the SportsNet LA studio.

4. Hershiser will also be a part of the pregame broadcasts from the SportsNet LA studio on occasion.

5. Alanna Rizzo, late of the MLB Network, will be the in-game reporter during games called by Steiner and Hershiser.

6. John Hartung will be the studio host for SportsNet LA, anchoring the network’s live shows. He joins the network from KABC-TV in Los Angeles, where he spent the past 11 years as a sports and news anchor.

7. Fox’s pre- and post-game studio was set up behind the center-field fence at Dodger Stadium. That’s gone. Expect something in the area of the home dugout.

Some bullet points for Answer Your Cat’s Question Day:
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers are starting the 2014 regular season before everyone else — again.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw might have three starts under his belt by the time some teams have played only five games. (Associated Press photo)


ESPN has selected the Dodgers’ first regular-season game in the United States for its first Sunday Night Baseball game of the season.

That sounds simple, but it contains some interesting implications.

The Dodgers were originally going to begin the non-Australia portion of their regular season on Monday, March 31, like every other team. That game — in San Diego — will now be played the night before, on March 30 at 8 p.m. There are no other MLB games scheduled for that day.

Dan Shulman, John Kruk, Curt Schilling and Buster Olney will broadcast the game.

But who will pitch?

If Don Mattingly hasn’t abandoned his start-Clayton-Kershaw-as-often-as-possible mantra since signing his fat new contract, expect Clayton Kershaw to start the game. The Dodgers have nine days between their second game in Australia (scheduled for 7 p.m. Pacific Time on March 22) and their first game in San Diego.

And because the game will be played a day earlier, Kershaw will have four full days of rest before the Dodgers’ home opener on April 4 against the San Francisco Giants. So Dodger fans might be the big winners in all of this.

The losers? Anyone who has a gripe about ESPN playing favorites with certain terms. The Dodgers will be, by far, the most exposed baseball team in March:

Some bullet points for a Panamanian Martyrs’ Day:
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Daily Distractions: Why the Dodgers are the team everyone in baseball loves to love.

Guggenheim Baseball Management

The Dodgers’ ownership team of Guggenheim Baseball Management, including Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Mark Walter and Magic Johnson (left to right) helped raised the bar for television contracts across baseball.

On Friday, it was reported that the Philadelphia Phillies had struck a $2.5 billion television-rights deal with Comcast, and suddenly that four-year, $26 million contract for Carlos Ruiz didn’t seem so crippling.

In December, the Seattle Mariners signed Robinson Cano for $240 million — eight months after the team invested in its own cable broadcast partner, Root Sports Northwest.

Now flash back to 2012. The Dodgers reportedly had an offer from Fox in the range of $6 to $7 billion total to remain on Prime Ticket, then spurned their longtime regional-rights partner to form a joint venture with Time Warner. Estimates on the amount the Dodgers will receive from the partnership range into the stratosphere of $8 billion.

History may judge this transaction as a tipping point for Regional Sports Network contracts, especially since not everyone is happy about the possible repercussions for their cable bills. (That case is still active, by the way.) But baseball industry folks haven’t complained one bit since the Dodgers inked their massive TV contract, from the small market of Tampa Bay to just down the freeway in Los Angeles of Anaheim. The Dodgers’ deal raised the value of 29 teams’ regional TV rights, offering the hope of upward payroll mobility everywhere.

Remember this the next time your friends in the Bay Area claim the Dodgers are the team everyone loves to hate.

Forbes’ Maury Brown just did a tremendous Q&A on the topic of RSNs.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:

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