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Chien-Ming Wang solid in debut for Charlotte Knights

By Seth Lakso
Correspondent
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/18/23/31/13pJwx.Em.138.jpeg|416
    Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
    Charlotte starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang delivers a pitch to a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre batter on Friday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/18/23/31/9s1HQ.Em.138.jpeg|242
    Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
    Charlotte Knights second baseman Micah Johnson turns a double play as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre runner Kyle Roller slides into second base on Friday.

More Information

  • Wang wins in Charlotte Knights debut
  • Knights Insider blog
  • Baseball page: Knights, MLB, colleges
  • Charlotte Knights official website
  • More information

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place and gunning for the World Series, but the majority of local fans won’t be able to watch any of it on television.

    The second half of the season began Friday. Yet, off the field, no progress has been made in the standoff between Time Warner Cable, which is distributing the new Dodger-owned channel SportsNet LA, and area pay-TV providers including DirecTV, Dish Network, Charter Communications and Cox Communications.

    “It is unlikely that we are going to get a deal done,” David Rone, president of Time Warner Cable Sports, acknowledged for the first time this week.

    Dodger President Stan Kasten called the situation “extremely troubling” and urged everyone to “return to the table to continue to work to try to make a deal as quickly as possible.”

    Many observers expected pressure from fans would force the pay-TV providers to the negotiating table, or face mass defections. But not this time. Instead, cable customers had drawn a line in the sand that they were unwilling to pay more money on top of their already sky-high cable bills to catch a Dodgers game.

    This could become a definitive moment for sports programming. Team owners may now be realizing cutting exorbitantly priced television deals may backfire. Pay-TV providers are walking away with more bravado about standing up against distributors like Time Warner.

    Executives at DirecTV, Cox and other distributors contend that Time Warner Cable’s price for the sports channel is too high and would force them to charge consumers, many of whom are not sports fans, even more for their TV packages. They are equally pessimistic about coming to terms on deals this season.

    Time Warner Cable is seeking more than $4 a month per subscriber for SportsNet LA and the price escalates sharply from there, people familiar with the negotiations said. While Time Warner Cable declines to comment on its offer, it says the price is not out of line with the value of Dodger baseball to distributors.

    Left in the lurch are millions of Dodger fans who have been unable to see Clayton Kershaw’s masterful pitching performances or Yasiel Puig’s reckless abandon on the base paths this season. Since opening day, the only games fans have been able to watch are the handful broadcast on ESPN, Fox and Fox Sports 1. Only subscribers to Time Warner Cable, which has about 30 percent of the Los Angeles pay-TV market, are seeing games regularly.

    “It’s driving me crazy,” said Bill Sanders, a Malibu resident who is a DirecTV subscriber. “Kershaw throws a no-hitter and I can’t watch it with my son.” Sanders lives in an area where he could switch to Time Warner Cable but he doesn’t want to drop DirecTV or add a second pay-TV service just for SportsNet LA.

    DirecTV has seen some 2,000 subscribers defect since the baseball season began, a person familiar with the matter said. But, that is not considered a huge number given the company serves 1.2 million households in the Los Angeles market.

    “People understand what’s going on,” said Dan York, chief content officer for DirecTV.

    DirecTV and other providers say consumers know a Dodgers TV deal would mean significantly higher bills – requiring subscribers to fork over around $50 a year even if they are not baseball fans.



There was a time when the news of the Chicago White Sox signing Taiwanese pitcher Chien-Ming Wang would have been front-page, above the fold material.

On Thursday, a website known for being on top of trade rumors and potential signings, listed Wang’s signing and subsequent assignment to the Class AAA Charlotte Knights under a subhead that read: “Minor Moves.”

Players also mentioned in the “Minor Moves” post included former Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis and former NBA star Tracy McGrady.

So it was with little fanfare that Wang made his Knights debut on Friday in an 8-4 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in front of 10,240 at BB&T BallPark.

The 34-year-old, who led the American League in wins with 19 when he was a member of the New York Yankees in 2006, tossed six innings and allowed four runs on seven hits to pick up the win.

True to form, Wang recorded 11 of his 18 outs via the groundball. He also struck out two and walked three, while touching an encouraging 91 mph on the stadium radar gun.

“(Wang) was available and the White Sox were interested,” said Knights manager Joel Skinner. “He’s a pro. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s a veteran guy. It’s good to have guys like that in your organization.”

Wang went 8-5 with a 3.70 ERA in 19 games this season with the Class AAA Louisville Bats (a Cincinnati Reds affilate) before exercising an opt-out option in his contract to pursue a Major League job.

“I tried to get a better chance to get back to the majors,” said Wang about the decision to sign with Chicago. “Other teams talked to me, but to have a chance to be a Major League fifth starter, I thought this was my best choice.”

After retiring the first two RailRiders batters he faced in the first inning, Wang allowed a double and a run-scoring single before recording a strikeout to end the inning.

The next four frames were vintage Wang, who entered the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead.

The RailRiders roughed the 6-foot-4 right-hander up for three runs in the sixth on four hits. Nevertheless, Knights fans gave him a nice ovation as he headed for the dugout following a debut that lived up to expectations.

“He was solid,” Skinner said. “He got some groundballs, which in this ballpark is something you want to see. He threw the ball fine. They got to him in the sixth inning, but he was able to get a big out and get out of that inning."

In the top of the seventh, Charlotte took a 6-4 edge thanks to a two-run single from Josh Phegley (3-for-4, three RBIs) to ensure that Wang would be credited with the win – Charlotte’s fourth in a row.

Andy Wilkins (3-for-4, 2B, HR), who finished 3-for-4, added two more insurance runs in the eighth inning with his International League-leading 19th home run of the season.

“It's just a matter (of) having depth so that if something should happen in Chicago, we've got another option to come give us a professional outing," White Sox General Manger Rick Hahn told MLB.com after Wang’s signing.

“You sort of know what you're going to get there,” Hahn continued. “(Wang’s) going to throw strikes and keep the ball on the ground. It is conceivable that, if there's a need here, we would turn to him.”

Knights 8, Rail Riders 4

Friday’s box score

Scrantonabrhbi
Pirela rf5010
Refsnyder 2b5010
Almonte lf4220
Garcia 3b4011
Roller 1b3110
Murphy c4111
Joseph dh3011
Angelini ss4021
Dugas cf4000
Totals364104

Charlotteabrhbi
Johnson 2b5131
Semien ss5111
Phegley c4033
Danks cf4000
Davidson 3b3100
Wilkins 1b4232
Tuiasosopo lf 2200
Tekotte rf4110
Taylor dh3000
Totals348117

Scranton1000030004100
Charlotte00222020x8111

E — Tekotte. LOB–SCR: 8, CHA: 8. 2B–Almonte, Angelini, Wilkins. HR—Wilkins. SB–M. Johnson.

ScrantonIPHRERBBSO
Leroux464435
Bleich1 1/322210
Webb1 1/322213
Escalona1 1/310001

CharlotteIPHRERBBSO
Wang674432
Frazier120001
Funetes110001
Cleto100002

WP-Leroux 3, Escalona. HBP-Phegley

T-3:15. A-10,240.

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