Comcast Makes Madness Maddening
March 12, 2012

When the new television deal began last year, true college basketball tournament fans rejoiced. You are now able to watch every single game live, and choose the ones you want to see, instead of depending on CBS to hopefully regionalize the game to your area. Now Comcast Cable is becoming a party pooper. TruTV, which is one of four networks to televise the early round games (with CBS, TBS, and TNT), has been taken away. Those with the “expanded basic” service can't see the games, unless they upgrade to Comcast's “digital preferred” tier, which is nine dollars a month more.

Why would anyone pay the extra money so they can watch a channel that normally features programs like World's Wildest Police Videos, reruns of Cops, and World's Dumbest –a documentary about stupid criminals (I swear that's their Monday primetime lineup)? I get that some people like to watch those things, but how is TruTV more important to be worth more than channels like TNT, TBS, or ESPN? On our cable system, we get ESPN and ESPN2 on expanded basic, but have to pay more for ESPNU, ESPN News, and ESPN Classic, so truly I have no idea how this all works. I checked Comcast's website and facebook page and saw numerous complaints, but no explanation. The changes are system wide, not just in our area.

I checked the schedule for Thursday and Friday (click here) , and out of the 32 games that will be shown in about 36 hours, there are only a couple on TruTV that I am upset about. I would like to see the Colorado-UNLV game on Thursday, and San Diego State-North Carolina State on Friday. Many northern California hoops fans will be disappointed that Cal's early-round game Tuesday vs. South Florida is on TruTV, and so is St. Mary's-Purdue Friday night. I guess I'll either try to watch the games online or it's dinner at a sports bar. Uggggh!

More cable nonsense: Not only did Comcast remove TruTV from their expanded basic tier, but they also took Turner Classic Movies away from us and made it a premium service. A coincidence that we lost TCM right before the Academy Awards and TruTV just prior to the NCAAs? I kind of doubt it. It reminds me of what David Letterman called General Electric executives when he was still at NBC--”money grubbing scum.”

Tourney Tidbits: There was little complaining from the media about this year's field. The biggest snub seems to be Drexel, which was 27-6, and won 19 straight before losing their conference tournament title game... I know the Pac-12 was weak, but Washington won the regular season, and Cal got an invite and the Huskies didn't... Thank goodness for the Big West Conference. All of its nine schools are in California, so the Golden State is guaranteed to have at least one team in the big dance every year. Long Beach State (Big West champs), San Diego State, Cal, and St. Mary's are the only schools from California to make the field. Not having UCLA in is strange, but they definitely didn't deserve it...Not that anyone cares, but I'm going with Kentucky to beat North Carolina for the National Championship, with Syracuse, and seventh-seed Florida as the rest of my Final Four...Who do you root for in the Harvard-Vanderbilt game Thursday? I know I didn't have the money or the grades to go to either school. Maybe we'll see Jeremy Lin on one sideline and Anderson Cooper on the other.

Championship Week: I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite here. I don't think automatic NCAA Tournament bids should be decided by conference tournaments, but you have to admit they are exciting. Watching those smaller conference title games is like adding a round to March Madness.

Baseball Bits (It is Spring Training you know): We're keeping an eye on him, but Yuba City native Max Stassi turns 21 this week (March 15). Stassi was the fourth round draft choice of the Oakland A's in 2009, and has appeared in training camp with the big leaguers each of the last two seasons, not including this one. He made his spring debut this year Thursday against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2 (strikeout, flyout). Shoulder surgery kept the young catcher out of action for almost all of last year... Two other former Gold Sox players are in Major League spring camps. Marquis Fleming pitched 2 scoreless innings (1 hit, 2 strikeouts) for Tampa Bay Tuesday and has a chance to make the Opening Day roster as a reliever. He gave up a run in his only inning of work on Friday. Anthony Bass has given up two runs in three innings with San Diego. He is battling for the fifth-starter job... Despite that I haven't talked to them in months, the Gold Sox issued a press release Wednesday that I am returning as their radio broadcaster this season. At least they didn't forget about me, and I am excited to be back!

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