Open letter to Victory Sports

Dear Victory Sports,

You are an idiot.

When I say that, I’m not just singling out one person in the organization (although you, Carl Pohlad, found about the only possible method of making more people hate you; to top this, you’re probably going to have to put out a hit on Bert Blyleven).

The Twins survived the 1994 strike; they survived nine years of mediocrity between 1993 and 2000; they survived Major League Baseball’s attempt to contract them in 2002. Though I now find it hard to believe, they even survived the Rich Becker years.

If it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, the Twins should be the Abrams tank of Major League Baseball by now. Heck, Minnesota even managed to win a couple of division titles with a payroll roughly the size of a year’s worth of Alex Rodriguez’s dinner tips. Though they’ll never consistently fill the Metrodome, the Twins brought fans back to Minnesota baseball, both with a winning team and an assortment of quirky ads and promotions. (I fondly remember a night, two seasons ago, when a big game against the Yankees, Dollar Hot Dog Night and Student Night coincided; the combination of excitement, students and cheap hot dogs led to what will probably go down as the only concourse food fight in American League history.)

My point is this: The Twins survived the dark years. The Twins came back from the brink of elimination; baseball returned as a viable sports option in Minnesota.

But you, Victory Sports, you changed all that.

First of all, who came up with your negotiating strategy? It’s straight out of the Mafia kidnapper’s handbook: Take something that people want and make somebody pay for you to give it back.

As you might have noticed, the strategy didn’t work. The big cable and satellite companies aren’t in the business of letting themselves be gouged. Last season, they paid less than $2 per subscriber to Fox Sports Net, which carried most of the Twins games. Now, you are attempting to make them pay $2 in change per subscriber for just the Twins games (plus 19 daily hours of ESPN News, which you’ll notice that the companies carry already).

It’s even a bit strong to call what you’ve been doing so far “negotiations;” that would imply you’ve been in ongoing discussions with the cable and satellite companies to try to reach a solution. You demanded certain concessions and a certain price per subscriber at the beginning of this saga. Your latest offer included those same demands, with a few changes in the wording.

It’s no wonder the cable companies haven’t picked up your channel yet; negotiating with you is like negotiating with North Korea. I’m not sure who in your organization decided to hire Kim Jong Il’s public relations people, but here’s a tip: It’s not working.

The main problem is this: You are killing the Twins. You’ve pretty much thrown away every bit of goodwill the Twins have built up over the last three years. You’re ruining their push for a new stadium. The people of Minnesota are turning against you and – by proxy – against the Twins.

I remember the last team that kept their games off of local TV for one reason or another. Because of that superbly brilliant move, the team eventually turned a decent fan base into the most apathetic in professional sports, killing any long-term future baseball might have had in that city.

Congratulations, Victory Sports: You’re following in the grand footsteps of the Montreal Expos.

When you’re broadcasting 20 Twins “home” games from Mexico City, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Please stop killing my team.

Sincerely,
Jon Marthaler

Jon Marthaler welcomes comments at [email protected]