Daily Distractions: California Superior Court judge tosses class-action lawsuit against Dodgers, Lakers, TWC.

SportsNet LA

The Dodgers’ new network, SportsNet LA, is launching Feb. 25. (Photo courtesy of SportsNet LA via Facebook)

A California Superior Court judge tossed out a class-action lawsuit filed against the Dodgers, Lakers, and Time Warner Cable on Tuesday, citing federal laws designed to protect the rights of cable providers. Judge Amy D. Hogue ruled that California’s Unfair Competition Law couldn’t be invoked to relieve Time Warner subscribers of the burden of unwanted fees or channels.

This blog space has focused on the Dodgers’ $8 billion, 25-year television contract to the extent that it impacts the team and its fans — the Time Warner subscribers who are bracing for a rate hike, and non-TWC subscribers who are being asked to “Demand Your Dodgers Now.” That makes sense. This is a Dodgers blog, after all.

But what about the non-Dodger (and non-Laker) fans who don’t want to pay for two channels they don’t plan to watch? That’s the group who filed the class-action suit. Their lead attorney, Max Blecher, summarized their position: “People should have the right to say ‘no.’ ”

Here’s how that position was eloquated in Judge Hogue’s nine-page ruling:

1. TWC plans to pass some the cost of its licensing deal with the Dodgers to its enhanced basic cable customers by increasing the cost of service by an estimated $4 to $5 per month. The Dodgers … knew and consented to the fact that the costs of the licensing agreement would be passed on to TWC enhanced basic cable customers without an opportunity for customers to opt-out of including those channels in their enhanced basic cable subscription.

2. TWC customers who subscribe to the enhanced basic cable package have no way of unsubscribìng from the costs of the Dodgers and Lakers networks, despite the fact that up to 60 percent of customers would do so if given the choice.

In response, TWC contended that the plaintiffs “entirely fail to address the ‘safe harbor effect’ of the CCA” — the federal law that allows cable providers to “bundle” channels in the same manner as SportsNet LA and TWC SportsNet (the Lakers’ network). The federal “safe harbor” law takes priority over California’s Unfair Competition Law. The judge agreed.

Blecher said he might file a notice of appeal if it can be argued that the judge’s ruling went too far. So this fight might not be over. The plaintiffs have at least one strong ally in Congress.

Some bullet points for a hump day:
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Daily Distractions: Several major-leaguers implicated in PED report; Suck, Schmidt and Sax.

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez’s HCG supplier, Tony Bosch, has a long list of clients in professional sports, according to a report today in the Miami New Times. (AP photo)

Just in case a small patch of your thick skin still hasn’t numbed to the idea that some professional athletes use performancing-enhancing drugs, the Miami New Times reported today that Alex Rodriguez, Yasmani Grandal, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Nelson Cruz are listed as clients of a Miami clinic that distributes illegal PEDs.

Rodriguez and Gonzalez – whose father did admit to purchasing weight-loss products from the clinic – have already denied any connection to the clinic’s former proprietor, Tony Bosch.

Major League Baseball will have the final say. The league is investigating the matter and suspensions could be levied if the apparent PED use can be proven. Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were all suspended 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy at some point last year. Gonzalez, Rodriguez and Cruz have never been penalized for PED use.

Regardless of the outcome, this story represents another wrinkle in the never-ending game of cat and mouse that exists among athletes seeking an edge, the PED suppliers who enable them, and the sports and government authorities charged with policing this activity.

Even if you’re numb to this plot, give it a read. The level of journalism is excellent, and there’s tremendous value in weeding out another hub for illegal drug distribution – regardless of whether the clientele is famous or not.

There is a Dodgers connection. You might recall Bosch’s name from 2010, when Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for the women’s fertility drug HCG. Bosch’s clinic was the supplier of Ramirez’s HCG.

As the author, Tim Elfrink, concludes: “Indeed, there are two patterns to the names of athletes in Bosch’s records: (1) Most have direct ties to Miami and often to the UM Hurricanes baseball program, and (2) a number have already been caught doping — which suggests that either Bosch isn’t particularly gifted at crafting drugs that can beat performance tests or his clients aren’t careful.”

Onto the links:

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