Local Congressman clarifies proposal for ‘binding baseball-style arbitration’ over SportsNet LA.

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) sent a letter today to the chairmen of Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and the Federal Communications Commission spelling out his earlier proposal for a binding arbitration process. It’s the third letter sent by a local member of Congress to the FCC concerning the ongoing dispute over SportsNet LA, the Dodgers’ home channel.

Here is the full text of the letter signed by Sherman. It’s a fairly dry read, but the level of specificity emphasizes the level of thought put into the proposal. Proposing binding arbitration becomes more than a two-word soundbite:

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Full text of letter from U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Yesterday, we reported that Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) had written a letter to the Federal Communications Commission requesting the bureau mediate the ongoing dispute surrounding the Dodgers’ network, SportsNet L.A. You can read that story here.

The full text of Cárdenas’ letter is here:
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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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