This One Kinda, Sorta Goes to 11

Fact: In November 2007, the Giants negotiated a deal with NBC-11 TV, giving the San Jose station sole on-air broadcast rights to Giants games.

Fact: In December 2007, the Giants became part owners of Fox Sports Net Bay Area, which is under majority ownership of Comcast, the major cable provider in San Francisco.

Last Friday, I was spending a quiet night at home, making a chupacabra pinata, talking on the phone with a friend, and listening to the Giants game on the wireless . . . what's that, you say? What's a wireless? Well, it's a box full of transistors, made in an Oriental sweatshop, and when you tune it just so, it sure sounds fine.

Well, anyway, I was making this chupacabra pinata and talking to my friend on the phone, when he says something about a play in the Giants game he's watching. And that surprises me since I know, like me, he's not paying what Comcast is asking, and nowadays, not paying what Comcast is asking means a virtual Giants blackout for those of us Giants fans unlucky enough to live way out here in San Francisco. See, my friend tells me, I can kind of get the Giants on Channel 11. His tone is upbeat, almost grateful.

Fast forward to tonight. The Giants are playing up in Seattle and the Big Unit is on the hill. Meanwhile, I'm staring at a computer screen and listening to the game on the wireless--in other words, all systems are normal. But suddenly something tells me to step out of my comfort zone, something tells me to push the electromagnetic envelope. So I leave the computer and the wireless behind, grab a hank of aluminum foil in the kitchen, and walk with some trepidation towards the TV room. I stick the foil on the antenna, say a short prayer to Marconi and Philo Farnsworth, and punch in "11" on the remote. . . and there, in a wigged out splash of psychedelic hues, is Aaron Rowand. And, like my friend last week, I feel almost grateful.

I have to check myself. Why am I feeling grateful for kinda, sorta being able to watch the hometown nine on TV? I mean it wasn't always this way. As far back as I can remember, the Giants broadcast 25-40 games a year on KTVU-2 out of Oakland. You could count on Channel 2, like you could count on a Maytag; the signal was clear, the late Gary Park was way too tan, and Dennis would be on afterwards, giving us the 411 about Frisco and Fruitvale and the far-off reaches of Contra Costa County. But in November 2007, the Giants inked the deal with San Jose's NBC 11. "The Giants and NBC 11 share a strong presence throughout the region," enthused fourth generation San Franciscan Larry Baer, "and our partnership will go a long way in solidifying and building our fan base for the future." But meanwhile, a significant minority of hometown supporters have been sentenced to at least three seasons of rooftop gymnastics, rabbit ear prestidigitation, and desperate measures involving aluminum foil.

addendum: My crosstown friend emails with this description of his "magic trick" for watching the games on Channel 11:
in a nutshell, the "antenna" is a (dead) coax for cable tv that comes out of the wall, attached just so to the back end of the receiving port on the tv. enhancement can be achieved sometimes (as is the case tonight) if a "secondary antenna" in the form of the cable from an old video cassette player sitting just underneath, is pulled over the top of the tv and secured by tucking it under whatever's up there (currently, an old non-digital disposable camera, perhaps from a trip to the orient years ago, also from walgreens i think).

What's good for Comcast is good for the Giants but not necessarily good for the fans . . . thanks a bunch, Larry.

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