Rockets Seek More Time, Fans Shrug Their Collective Shoulders
Since the Rockets took over negotiations on behalf of the CSN Houston group of partners, it has been quiet. On Monday night, the Rockets formally requested until January 31 to continue what it considers significant progress in its negotiations to extricate the network from financial troubles and, hopefully, get it on more than just Comcast.
I could blah, blah, blah on for 500 words about the technical intricacies of the requests, though my grasp of the legalities here, like most people's, is often tenuous at best. In the simplest terms, the Rockets are trying to either by the network or find buyers who will bail it out and convince DirecTV, Dish Network, U-Verse and others to take the channel on. Until that happens, most of the news coming down the pike will be more interesting to lawyers than anyone else.
I've been covering this story here for quite some time and the one thing I have learned is that the average person doesn't care one iota about the technical details. Most people are simply pissed that the Rockets and Astros can't be seen unless you have a Comcast subscription and many have simply given up.
The Rockets continue to be one of the elite teams in a Western Conference loaded with great talent, yet the overwhelming buzz around Houston has to do with one of the worst teams in town, the Texans, particularly after hiring Penn State coach Bill O'Brien to replace Gary Kubiak. But, if you think that will quell the noise heard on sports radio and on sports news programming about the Texans until the draft, forget it.
Even if the Rockets are destroying the league -- they aren't -- and even after training camp stars for the Astros, until there are deals in place to get those teams out of the, frankly, self-imposed media blackout, no one will care. You can't root for what you can't see.
People have taken to asking me what I think will happen and the God's honest truth is I don't know. I was pessimistic when so many thought that the signing of Dwight Howard would somehow change things. I knew that the kind of money they were talking about couldn't be impacted by one player and, unfortunately, I turned out to be right. This is a huge deal for the Rockets, the Astros and the network. The Astros believe, rightly or not, that a deal could make or break their franchise over the next 20 years, and they are doing what they think is necessary to protect their future even if it means mortgaging the present.
Sadly, that is costing the Rockets as well, which is why they have taken over the negotiation process. I'm not certain I have any more faith in their ability to succeed than I did in the Astros' when they were handling things, but at least Leslie Alexander has a real incentive: a winning team on the court and blind to 60 percent of the city's viewers.
Until he and his team of negotiators can find a way to break the stalemate, however, the only thing he and his fellow owner down La Branch are going to get from most fans is apathy.