The Morning Report
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Never thought I’d ever write it, but … Glory be the FCC! After flirting with the notion for the last few years, the Federal Communications Commission has now publicly gone on the attack against the NFL’s blackout rule.
The Los Angeles Times did an excellent job of breaking down why the rule was created in the first place, 40 years ago, and why it serves no purpose today other than to help NFL franchises milk more money out of their fans by using threats.
At the time the rule was introduced, NFL teams’ primary source of revenue was from ticket sales, and there were concerns that if games were shown on television that were not sold out it could encourage fans to stay home.
Now the bulk of revenues for the teams comes from TV and merchandise. Also, blackouts have become a thing of the past. According to the FCC, in 1974 — the year before the blackout rules took effect — 59% of regular season games were blocked in local markets. Last year, according to the NFL, only 6% of games were blacked out. This season, only one game has been been blacked out.
Oh, but don’t think the NFL is giving in without a fight. They stand to lose a little bit of money if the rule gets axed, so they’ve concocted some odd reasoning to defend their side.
The broadcasters association said it feared that removing the blackout rules could lead to even more sports migrating exclusively to the world of pay-television.
“Allowing importation of sports programming on pay-TV platforms while denying that same programming to free broadcast-only homes would erode the economic base of local television and hinder broadcasting as an engine for economic growth in local communities,” said a spokesman for the broadcasters association.
Don’t you see? The rule that keeps local fans from being able to watch their local team play is in place for the fans. We shouldn’t be fighting these rules, we should be thanking the NFL.
Seriously, though, the idea that NFL games are going to switch from locally broadcasted over-the-air channels to pay-per-view is ludicrous. The TV stations that are paying the NFL billions of dollars per year to broadcast these games are still making money hand-over-fist on advertisements because the ratings are so incredibly high. Contrary to the NFL, NBC, CBS and FOX, know a good thing when they see one and aren’t about to rock the boat. I think it’s almost time for the NFL to come up with another excuse that sounds a little less like a first-world problem.
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Padres Add Benoit, Making the 2014 Picture Clearer
Padres fans heard the rumors. The position players are set for 2014, with plenty of depth and upside, but a piece or two could still be added to the bullpen.
Then, there were whispers about Joaquin Benoit. VM Nate considered the possibility, and decided that it was a move the Padres needed to make. They might be stuck in no man’s land in terms of starters at most positions, but Benoit would give the team the best chance to win.
Two days later, Benoit was a Padre. In fact, Benoit was given the most guaranteed money of any Padres free agent ever. His contract pushes the 2014 team’s payroll close to $90 million, for another team record.
So, in the grand scheme of things, what have the Padres done this offseason to get better?Well …
• Everth Cabrera will return from his suspension and Yonder Alonso will return from his injury to help the infield and the offense quite a bit. You could make a solid case that Cabrera was the team’s best offensive player in 2012 while Alonso was hitting double after double in the 2011 season.
• Chase Headley, who never quite got right after breaking his thumb during spring training, should be better in 2014.
• The starting rotation, with plenty of young arms coming back from injury and Josh Johnson signed as a free agent, should be much improved.
• The bullpen, which upgraded from Luke Gregerson to Benoit, should be more reliable.
• There is more depth everywhere. The team can go two-deep at just about any position without fielding a bad player offensively or defensively. Now they’ll just need to stay healthy.
Chargers Looking for Revenge Against the Raiders
• I finally had a chance to go back and watch all of the Chargers win over the Broncos last Thursday, and I picked up on a few things that both teams were doing that I didn’t notice the first time. Most notably, defensive coordinator John Pagano had a brilliant game, so it makes sense that Chargers GM Tom Telesco has said Pagano will be back in 2014.
• Unfortunately, things are a little less certain for Ken Whisenhunt. While he’s busy putting together beautiful offensive drives that almost single-handedly win games against the best teams in the league, the Houston Texans have noticed and desperately want to interview Whisenhunt for their open head coaching position. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on the Chargers looking for a new offensive coordinator within the next month or so.
• The Chargers’ early-season loss to the Oakland Raiders still stings, and was probably the worst game that San Diego played as a team all season. This week, the Raiders comes to San Diego and Mike McCoy’s team is looking for revenge and hoping that their playoff changes aren’t dead. Unfortunately, the team will know before kickoff whether they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs, which means it may be time to start rooting for the Chargers to lose games. One Milwaukee Bucks fan knows what I’m talking about.
Stories You May Have Missed
• Don’t worry, you didn’t miss any stories regarding the San Diego State Aztecs. The basketball team had just one game, predictably crushing Southern Utah, and the football team doesn’t play its bowl game until Saturdya. They’ll be taking on the University of Buffalo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
• I don’t do this often, but a huge round of applause to President Barack Obama for his choices for the U.S. delegation for the Olympics in Sochi. Brian Boitano came out as gay this week, making him the third openly gay athlete to represent America in a country that deserves criticism for its persecution of all non-heterosexual people. I don’t want to delve too far into politics here, but Obama’s bold choices here were a great step in the right direction for universal human rights.
• GIF of the Week: Peyton Manning might win the NFL’s MVP Award this season because of his eye-popping stats, but I would argue that nobody is more valuable to his team than Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
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