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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Report: Dodgers must pay $11.4 million in luxury taxes.

From the Associated Press:

According to Major League Baseball calculations Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the only team [other than the Yankees] that exceeded the tax threshold this year and must pay $11.4 million.

Figures include average annual values of contracts for players on 40-man rosters, earned bonuses and escalators, adjustments for cash in trades and $10.8 million per team in benefits.

The Yankees finished with the highest regular payroll for the 15th consecutive year, winding up at a record $237,018,889. The Dodgers were just $146,647 behind.

The Dodgers should be able to afford it. Forbes.com reported today that MLB is closer to approving the Dodgers’ new television deal, which could pay $7 billion or more. The team’s new flagship network, SportsNet LA, has already begun hiring personnel and is set to debut in 2014.

Report: Dodgers’ TV deal close to gaining approval from Major League Baseball.

This was just reported today on Bloomberg.com:

Major League Baseball is close to approving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ planned regional sports network in time for next season, preserving a major part of the record purchase of the club.

“That process is at a point where it’s pretty clear there will be approval of the Dodgers’ arrangement well before the 2014 season starts,” baseball’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said during an interview at the league’s New York headquarters.

Manfred wouldn’t give details on what remained to be cleared by MLB before the network could begin operation.

Nothing earth-shattering here; the league’s approval has been deemed a formality for some time. We know that the Dodgers are well along in the hiring process for the new network, called SportsNet LA. But it’s always worth checking in with the man who is performing the day-to-day duties of MLB commissioner.

Why the San Diego Padres are pissed about the Dodgers’ deal with Time Warner Cable.

Fox Sports San Diego

How do you spend billions of dollars and on the other hand, why will you not accept the market rate for carrying the Padres? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

– Ron Fowler, co-owner of the San Diego Padres

U-T San Diego has the story about the state of the Padres’ impasse with Time Warner Cable. The short version: Local Time Warner subscribers, about 185,000 of them, can’t watch the Padres because Time Warner won’t carry Fox Sports San Diego. The team’s co-owner has scheduled a face-to-face meeting with the cable provider to resolve the situation. This doesn’t happen often.

That quote was lifted from an interview Fowler held Friday afternoon with a local radio station. It was in reference to the Dodgers’ creation of SportsNet LA, a regional network that will launch in 2014. Time Warner is believed to have paid $7 billion-plus so its subscribers will have access to the channel. Will anyone else? That’s the question Dodgers fans will be fretting a year from now. It’s a problem for Padres fans now, and it’s something to keep an eye on.

Regardless of the outcome, the lesson here is an ugly one: Consumers simply don’t win when big money, politics, sports and cable television collide.

Say hello to ‘SportsNet LA’.

The Dodgers and Time Warner Cable officially announced the creation of a new channel, SportsNet LA, this morning.

In effect, the Dodgers will be televised on their own regional sports network beginning in the 2014 season. The next challenge will be to secure distribution among the local carriers. TWC has already agreed to be the charter distributor throughout Southern California and Hawaii.

Here’s the full text of the press release from TWC:

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