The Dodgers' season opens on Monday with a home game against San Diego, and once again 70 percent of the L.A. TV market won't be able to watch the games.
Due to the bottomless greed and incompetence of the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable, the games are available only to TWC subscribers. Today, L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke puts a human face on the issue with the story of Jim Ballard, a 94-year-old WWII vet from Carpinteria who bleeds Dodger blue and can't watch the games.
“I just wish somebody could tell me how I could fight this,” Ballard says.
We're here to help. There is a simple solution, which we will now explain.
It's a two-step process. First, Ballard and fans like him should go online and sign up for MLB.TV. This allows him to stream all out-of-market games for the entire season for $130.
Ah, but notice we said “out-of-market.” Dodgers games are blacked out, on the theory that fans in the L.A. market should watch the games on SportsNet L.A., the Dodgers' exclusive channel. But what if your provider doesn't offer SportsNet L.A.? What if, like Ballard, you live in an area where no provider offers SportsNet L.A.? You're out of luck.
Which brings us to step two.
Once you've signed up for MLB.TV, you will need another service that disguises your computer's location. A popular one is Unblock-Us, which costs $5 per month, or $30 for a six-month season.
In simple terms, here's how it works. Suppose you are an L.A.-based MLB.TV subscriber, so Dodgers and Angels games are blacked out. If you go on vacation in Colorado, suddenly, Rockies games will be blacked out but the Dodgers will not. An unblocking service allows you to take a virtual trip without leaving your couch.
“It most definitely works & is one of our more popular sports services we support,” said Casey Rovinelli, an Unblock-Us spokesman, via email. “We have a team of developers that make sure the channels we say we are going to support will be supported for the season.”
The service is particularly popular in Canada, where subscribers use it to watch the U.S. version of Netflix. Unblock-Us recently relocated from Canada to Barbados, where the legal environment is more favorable to customers' privacy.
Now, some might object that this is an expensive solution. However, you could end up saving money if you ditch your cable subscription. You will still have plenty to watch between Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. And, of course, you can have your choice of 15 baseball games every day.
As for Ballard, he may need some help with this. Perhaps a good Samaritan can drive out to Carpinteria and hook him up? The man helped liberate Europe. He has earned it.