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Sabre Rattling

by on January 10, 2012

The performances of specifically woeful attorneys general such as unctuous lizard Eliot Spitzer and present miserable governor Andrew Cuomo will affect New York well into the future. For example, incumbent Eric Schneiderman apparently feels so ashamed of his post that he’s concluded there’s nothing better to do than waste his time telling a cable provider and channel to make a deal.

Some may even suggest that there’s real crime in this state about which to worry. For one, there’s the matter of how politicians like the AG draw checks they clearly don’t earn.

To wit, wags have been joking that not being able to see the presently mediocre Buffalo Sabres is a blessing. Regardless, the office is now being used to mediate something as extraneous as a cable feud:

The State Attorney General is stepping in the rink to referee the dispute that’s put Buffalo Sabres fans with cable in the penalty box.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement Friday, the day after some Buffalo lawmakers asked him to step in, saying he would ask both MSG and Time Warner officials to meet in his office next week. Time Warner customers would couldn’t watch the game turned out by the thousands to watch the Sabres play the Carolina Canes at First Niagara Center Friday night.

So, the franchise figured out a way to show the games despite the dispute? The inventive solution provided an opportunity for fans to demonstrate their dedication to a frustratingly underachieving squad. Naturally, the attorney general doesn’t care:

The Sabres opened up the arena and let fans in for free, giving them free popcorn and pop on day six of MSG’s decision to pull Sabres’ games off of Time Warner. But now, the NYS Attorney General hopes to mediate an end to the dispute, saying, “We have had constructive discussions with Time Warner Cable and MSG Networks as part of an ongoing effort to facilitate progress in their talks. We are hopeful that the two parties will come to an agreement in short order so that Sabres, Rangers, and Knicks games are available to subscribing New Yorkers as soon as possible.”

I want my Knicks games! That’s pro basketball, right? Maybe an elected official can intimidate people into whatever results he thinks would be fair:

Sherry Park isn’t sure if that will make a difference and said, “I don’t know. It’d kind of hard. Everybody’s trying to step in and stuff. Hopefully, being the Attorney General, I hope he can make a bigger difference.”

He’ll make a bigger difference, all right. Using the state’s chief law enforcement officer to tell businesses how they should resolve their dispute should unsettle everyone. At least somebody thinks the government has no place trying to referee this game:

“It’s a shame that the Attorney General of New York has to waste his time. With the stuff that we have going on in New York, because a company wants to raise 52 percent. I mean, I can see where you can make a raise, but not many of us get a 52 percent raise when we go in to do our jobs,” said Jeff Schultz.

MSG denies asking for a 52 percent raise and says, “We appreciate the Attorney General’s offer to meet with us to discuss our dispute with Time Warner Cable and we look forward to meeting with him.”

It’s hard to judge who’s being a jerk without knowing the intricacies regarding standard cable channel compensation rates. Either way, the one thing that could make the frustrating situation worse is the government deciding that it has a role to play.

As with the criminally inept Bills getting free sugar from Erie County no matter how consistently they fail, the popularity of professional athletics is lamentably strong enough to trump the principle of governmental nonintervention. People can decide on their own what’s fun and what they should pay for it. The business of sports is none of the state’s business.

The line brawl involves two private enterprises hashing out different ideas of how much one party’s product is worth. Wanting the state to stay out of the matter has nothing to do with cheering for a franchise like the Sabres that we find endearing no matter how frustratingly they play.

If you want to watch your team, yell at your cable provider and/or the channel that carries them. Just don’t yell at the government.

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