We’ve been waiting for a long time for Clayton Kershaw to finally sign that extension, and yesterday he finally did. And yet if this is even possible, that’s not the news from the last 24 hours that I think we’ve been waiting on the most. Bill Shaikin explains:
MLB has approved the Dodgers’ deal with TWC, two people familiar with the matter said Wednesday. Although there has been no announcement, the Dodgers have hired on-air talent for the new channel — including former players Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra — and have reached agreement with MLB about how much television revenue the team would share with the league.
Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ controlling owner, said documentation had delayed formal league approval of a deal to which both parties agreed long ago.
“Our understanding with MLB has not changed in months and months,” Walter said. “I never felt it was in any way hostile.”
First off: finally. That’s great news, since pitchers and catchers report in less than a month, and the lack of updates over the last few months was somewhat shocking. Shaikin adds that SNLA plans to air every spring training game, which is fantastic and, I believe, unprecedented. (Of course, whether you’ll be able to see any of those games is an open question; there’s still the endless fight about the channel’s carriage with DirecTV and U-verse and everyone else to get through, and as we saw with the Lakers in 2012, those battles tend to be drawn-out and ugly.)
While neither Kershaw’s deal nor MLB approval of SNLA have been officially announced yet, there’s just absolutely no way that the timing here is a coincidence. A month ago, when we were all getting panicky about Kershaw remaining unsigned, I spitballed a few possible reasons for the delay. This was one of them:
3) The Dodgers are waiting on the SNLA deal to be officially announced.
Despite the fact that we keep hearing new names being added to the team — ABC’s John Hartung is reportedly the latest — you’ll notice that there is, as of yet, not an official deal in place, or at least not one that has been approved by MLB. We keep hearing that it will be, but even when it is, there’s going to be some messy carriage fights with providers. Considering just how much a Kershaw deal is likely to cost, it’s theoretically possible that the team prefers to know for sure, in officially approved writing, that all the billions they’ve been banking on are actually coming in.
A month later, both are happening — or at least, reported to be done or close to it — within hours of one another. I’m having a real hard time believing those two things have nothing to do with one another, though Shaikin says that the MLB deal was agreed to long ago and just not announced yet.
Anyway, 48 hours ago Kershaw didn’t have a deal and the TV situation was up in the air. The carriage fight looms, but we have a lot more clarity and resolution on both situations. Not a bad few days, as far as days go.