Once upon a time (Wednesday), I wrote about the Toronto Blue Jays and their scuffle with the global economy.  They broke their rocks in the hot sun (figurative rocks), and I hate to spoil it for you but, the law won.

The Jays’ ownership, Rogers Communications, conceded a change in venue and jettisoned a Toronto Blue Jays-Philadelphia Phillies series to the City of Brotherly Love.

That doesn’t mean corporate will back down on every issue, though. In fact, Rogers is battening down the hatches in preparation of what’s to come.

Doing so has the Jays making their first trade of the season: Swapping TSN for the broadcast rights to 25 of Toronto’s games.  

This move has Rogers Sportsnet taking over all 162 televised games this year. No longer will fans be forced to surf channels, confusing time-wasting things like the news with precious, precious commentator babble. And Rogers, following in the footsteps of the Parker Brothers, now have a near monopoly over all things Blue Jay.

Actions like these could be misconstrued, and rightly so. Rogers now has the ability to package the Jays with subscriptions to specialty channels; forcing viewers to cough up more money for what is now a free privilege.

Personally, I’m not worried about that scenario. Yet. If Rogers tried to leverage fans into paying to watch this team play, how many people would actually do so? The team is winning now, but that still doesn’t dispel the pessimistic fog that surrounds it. Nearly every fan would concede that this season is a crapshoot to some degree; privatizing the team would jeopardize the relationship with the casual fan.

Something else to consider are the economic currents running through Ottawa. Canada’s Minister of Industry, Tony Clement, is giving the impression that Canadian telecommunications will become a freer market.

If that’s the case, then Rogers may just be consolidating its position in the face of incoming competitors. Allocating TSN 25 games means that there’s the possibility that 25 games may someday wind up in the hands of the competition. While Rogers owns the team, other broadcasters could milk revenue from it while ownership stomachs the operating costs.

And with the onus on maximizing value, whether it be with internet services or on the Jays’ roster (Adam Lind’s new contract, anyone?), that’s something that Rogers is definitely not interested in.

Having all 162 games locked up means that when the rich kids show up, all that’s left to haggle over will be reruns of The Littlest Hobo; which are easily worth three years and $30 million. 

It also simplifies things for both Rogers and TSN. The latter is majority-owned by CTVglobemedia, but ESPN also owns a share. TSN is getting ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball as part of the deal; aligning all properties with their owners (with TSN shifting SNB to TSN2).

The entire season up to this point has been broadcast by Rogers Sportsnet, so it’s not as if the change will be earth-shattering. For the time being, the move is just a preemptive one.

But toward what?

Now that Rogers has complete control over the Blue Jays, the opportunity to irritate fans has presented itself (once again). With no competition, Rogers completely controls the quality of the product. Similar situations like this already exist in New York and Boston, with the YES Network and NESN.

Hopefully everything to this point has just been to preserve Canadian content, rather than allowing Rogers to squeeze dollars out of an already taxed (case in point: The Ricciardi years) fanbase.

For now, Jays fans will at least be able to shave seconds off their daily television commute.

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