All Ball Sports: Costa falls to 0-3, Redondo to 2-1. Spectrum, Disney fall to 0-0

Mira Costa junior quarterback Nico De La Cruz (right) connected on a 44-yard pass to senior Reese Leonard (left) to open the scoring against Damien. Photos by Ray Vidal

by Paul Teetor

The Mira Costa football team scored the first 14 points of the game Friday to fuel hope that they were about to get their first win of the still young season in front of a home crowd.

Instead, Damien responded with 42 unanswered points and left Manhattan Beach with a 56-23 win that kept them undefeated and kept Costa winless.

Behind sophomore quarterback Isaiah Arriaza’s six touchdown throws, the Spartans’ aerial attack proved too much for the Mustangs.

But at first Costa and its star quarterback Nico De La Cruz looked like they were ready to deliver on the promise De La Cruz showed last season as a sophomore who came out of nowhere to claim the Mustangs starting job and post an outstanding season.

As usual, it was senior star wide receiver Reese Leonard who led the way. De La Cruz connected with him for a 44-yard passing touchdown to open the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Mustangs’ forced a fumble and recovered the ball to gain some serious momentum. One play later Costa took a14-0 lead when senior tight end David Burga-Donovan caught a 30-yard completion from De La Cruz with 3:30 left in the quarter.

“I was really proud of their start,” Mira Costa coach Don Morrow said. “They came out with a lot of energy and we were taking care of the ball well. We had a bad week turnover-wise last week so they overcame that and I was really impressed.”

But that was it for Mira Costa highlights. The rest of the game was eminently forgettable as Damien ran the score to 42-14 before Costa knew what had hit them.

Mira Costa will try once again for its first win of the season when San Juan Hills visits Friday.

Meanwhile Redondo lost 13-12 to Huntington Beach thanks to a missed extra point in the first quarter when the Sea Hawks took a 6-0 lead that should have been 7-0.

Huntington Beach responded with a touchdown of its own and kicked the extra point for a 7-6 first quarter lead. They extended their lead to 10-6 with a second quarter field goal.

Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter, and HB converted another field to make it 13-6. But Redondo kept fighting only to lose in the end by the margin of a single point.

Disney Versus Spectrum: A Pox on Both Their Houses

Thank you, Spectrum, for forcing me to do what I should have done long ago. 

All Ball is a hardcore tennis fan who watched almost all of the matches for the first two days of the US Open on ESPN. Then on Day 3, just as I was getting ready to kick back and watch 20-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz roll over yet another opponent, my 75-inch screen went dark.

There must be something wrong with ESPN, I said to Mrs. All Ball. 

Chill out and stop whining, she replied. They’ll have it fixed and back on the screen in a couple of minutes.

Well, after a few minutes of a blank screen, some corporate-speak writing appeared. 

It took me a few times reading it, but it turns out that there was indeed something wrong with ESPN and its corporate parent, the Walt Disney Co. According to Spectrum, they’re suffering from uncontrolled greed and chose that moment to pull their programming from Spectrum, knowing that they had maximum leverage with the US Open tennis going on and several big-time college football games on tap that very night (turns out they also pulled all programming from ABC Channel 7.)

Spectrum assured me that they were on my side and were holding the line against Disney’s outrageous carriage fee demands. They said they had been negotiating in good faith with Disney and were shocked by the sudden turn of events.

“We offered Disney a fair deal and yet they continue to demand excessive fees,” Spectrum said. 

A few minutes later they put up a stinging indictment of Disney’s past behavior with other cable networks.  

“Disney pulled their programming from YouTube in 2021, and from Dish and Sling in 2022,” they said.  I guess we were supposed to rally to Spectrum’s side and barrage Disney with demands that they quit trying to gouge us hard working slobs for a few extra dollars a month. Shockingly, that didn’t happen. I guess most customers just assumed that this dispute, like so many others before it, would be quickly resolved.

But it turns out that this isn’t just another rights fee dispute. It finally ended Monday afternoon, just hours before the first Monday Night Football game on ABC and 10 days after the blackout began.                  

And it wasn’t just the Beach Cities that were affected: there are 15 million Spectrum customers nationwide who were suddenly without ESPN and ABC — and five million of them live in SoCal.

While I felt bad for my fellow Spectrum customers, all I really cared about was getting to watch the tennis as soon as possible.

All that night I kept checking ESPN, but nothing had changed: the tennis was gone and Spectrum kept assuring me that they were on my side and would get the programming back on as soon as possible – which apparently meant as soon as Disney backed off their outrageous demands.

Then they stepped up their attacks on Disney: “Disney wants to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages, forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want.”

That sounded pretty bad, but I knew that Spectrum — along with other cable networks — had spent the last couple of decades fighting tooth and nail to prevent a la carte programming, where customers would only pay for the channels they actually wanted to see. In the industry this is called “unbundling” and Spectrum has done all it can to prevent that day from ever coming. 

Indeed, their whole business model has been to force customers to take dozens or sometimes hundreds of channels just to have access to the few they really want to watch. So their vow that they were fighting to preserve customer choice gave me a big laugh – but it didn’t get me my tennis back.

Disney then put out a statement of its own: “We are blacked out due to a dispute between Spectrum’s parent company – Charter Communications – and Disney Entertainment. Disney deeply values its relationship with its viewers and is hopeful Charter is ready to have more conversations that will restore access to its content to Spectrum customers as soon as possible.”           

The inane blame-game blather from both sides was giving me an ice-cream headache in the middle of a late-summer heat wave, and getting me no closer to my short-term goal: watching the damn tennis tournament.

By Friday morning I was desperate enough to consider taking a radical action that I had long contemplated but never acted on, mainly because it represented change and felt like too much trouble.

But this time I would find an alternative source for my beloved tennis – and ultimately for other sports should these two corporate pigs continue their food fight at my expense.

Within an hour Mrs. All Ball, who is far more tech savvy than All Ball, had sifted through all the streaming options out there and come up with a winner: for $20, we could try Sling for one month, then it would be $40 a month if we wanted to keep it. All I cared about was if they carried ESPN and thus had the tennis I wanted.

They did.

So I jumped at the opportunity and in less than an hour we were happily watching my new favorite player – Ben Shelton, the 20-year-old from Florida who won the NCAA singles tournament last year and turned pro last fall.

By an amazing coincidence – they share the same agent — it turns he and Steve Nash are pals. Shelton even accompanied Nash to his first singles match at the Manhattan Beach Open back in July and All Ball got to meet him for a moment, though I didn’t pursue the opportunity to interview him about his friendship with Nash.

I was sure he would have done it if I had simply asked for a couple minutes of his time, but I didn’t recognize the big star he was about to become and the opportunity slipped away.

Although I had vaguely heard of Shelton and his huge lefty serve – he’s 6-foot-4 and built like Blake Griffin – I didn’t seize the opportunity and soon he was gone from Live Oak Park. Talk about regret.

Fast forward a month, and Shelton was the hottest American prospect at the Open – yes, hotter than Francis Tiafoe and Tommy Paul, both of whom he beat during his run — and I was telling everyone who would listen that he was my new best friend.       

Amazingly, Shelton battled all the way to the semifinals, where he took Djokovic to a third set tie-breaker before finally losing.

And I got to watch it all – on ESPN via Sling.

Experts far more knowledgeable on TV economics than All Ball say Spectrum vs. Disney could be the Super Bowl of rights disputes, and has the potential to change the way TV sports are viewed forever.


I’m just glad I got my tennis back in time to watch my new best friend, Ben Shelton.

ESPN was still getting my $9 a month, which happens to be the highest per-customer fee in the entire cable world, not just sports cable. But what did I care if the middleman was Spectrum or Sling? 

Makes no difference to me.

For years, the only thing that prevented me from joining the hordes of cable cutters to become part of the streaming masses was sheer inertia. I was just too lazy and intimidated by new technology to take that fateful step across the digital divide.

Until Spectrum played hardball with ESPN and ESPN suddenly pulled the plug on me.

Now I can get the same programming for much less.

Thank you, Spectrum.

Update: Late Monday afternoon Spectrum announced it had signed a new deal with Disney and the blackout was over. Terms were not disclosed, but it felt like Spectrum surrendered. The announcement came just hours before the first Monday Night Football game of the season between the New York Jets, with new quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and the Buffalo Bill was scheduled to run on ABC. I’m sure I’m not the only tennis fan who went looking for a new ESPN source during the 11-day blackout, but the number of hard-core tennis fans is miniscule compared to pro football fans. And once they missed their first Monday night game, many of them undoubtedly would have set off on the same journey that I did. Spectrum just couldn’t afford to take that chance and so they capitulated. 

Contact: Follow: @paulteetor. ER  


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