Midstate Phillies fans strike out with Comcast, MLB

Suzanne Sunday lives in historic Churchtown. It’s in Monroe Township just outside Mechanicsburg.

Her house was built in 1848. It’s the red brick with the red Phillies flag flying out front.

There’s no doubt who Sunday worships every day.

“I love the Phillies,” Suzanne says with enthusiasm. “I have since I was in about fifth grade.”

She’s eager to tell you her favorite Phillie of all time.

“Johnnie Callison, right field.”

Suzanne now wears a Shane Victorino jersey on top of a Phillies T-shirt, but she feels left out. She can’t get the Phillies on her television.

“It irritates me. I’m a Phillies fan. I live in Pennsylvania,” she said.

But according to her provider, Comcast Carlisle, Suzanne lives in the Baltimore-Washington area. Geographically, she is closer to Baltimore than Philly so she can watch all the Orioles and Nationals she wants.

But she doesn’t want Baltimore and Washington baseball.

“Excuse me. I live in Pennsylvania. Shouldn’t I be able to watch the Pennsylvania team that’s closest to me? If I lived two miles further east, I could watch all the Phillies games I wanted to watch because I’d be on a different Comcast system,” she said.

Comcast is aware of the complaints by many Midstaters and spokesman Bob Grove issued a statement.

“CSN Philadelphia is available to the vast majority of our customers in mid-state. Our Carlisle lineup historically has received Baltimore/Washington-based sports programming. Based on that and other business considerations, the Carlisle lineup receives CSN Mid-Atlantic,” Grove said.

Suzanne understands and decided to purchase the MLB Network package. She thought she’d pay extra and get her favorite team, but Major League baseball considers Churchtown to be in Phillies territory and blacks out Phillies games even to customers who pay more.

Suzanne, retired after 37 years as a teacher at Monroe Elementary School, has watched enough Phillies baseball to know an error when she sees one. She began a letter-writing campaign and targeted Phillies President David Montgomery and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Her tone was professional but fair, writing to Roberts “for some unknown and idiotic reason Comcast Carlisle refuses to air CSN Philadelphia.”

Suzanne senses that she’s not just phighting for herself.

“I’m not the only Phillies fan in this situation and I’m not the only person who enjoys watching baseball,” she said. “I should be able to watch the Phillies. It’s not an earth shattering dilemma, but it’s irritating to me.”

A Phillies spokeswoman says the Phillies are not involved in the dispute, that it’s an issue between Comcast and MLB.

Grove, the Comcast spokesman, was asked if it’s impossible to put both Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia sports programming on Comcast Carlisle?

“No,” he said. “That’s a decision that we make.”

Comcast would not provide a detailed map with its geographic boundaries, nor would it say exactly how many Midstaters are lumped into the Baltimore/Washington region.

Cynics would tell Suzanne that not seeing the last-place Phillies this year might be a blessing, but she wonders why, with so many channels and so many options, she can’t get the one thing she wants when she’s willing to pay more?

“This is the information age,” she said. “Information is available everywhere to everyone. So what’s the problem? Who’s the problem?”

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