<b>PLAY BALL! </b> The Dodgers may be playing, including millionaire pitcher Zack Greinke, but Santa Barbarans won’t be watching.

HOT STOVE LEAGUE PREDICTS: Okay, so I made a big, big mistake by moving to Santa Barbara instead of Bakersfield. I know, I know, I’ve poked fun at B-Town, “the Paris of the San Joaquin Valley,” its high crime rate, its killer air quality. But if I lived there, I could look forward to doing something Santa Barbarans aren’t likely to be doing this year: watching the Dodgers on TV.

Barney Brantingham

I pay a huge tariff to Cox every month for the opportunity to tune in on hundreds of unwatchable junk programs, unless you consider Swamp People quality fare. But does Cox put the Boys in Blue on the tube? No.

Why? Money. Billions of it. All regular, normal people in Southern California want to do is sit back after a day of earning enough to pay the IRS and relax watching the Dodgers ​— ​except for the unfortunates who cater to the Angels and Frisco (there, I said it, and I’m not sorry) Gintz.

We fans don’t ask much, only to stare at our giant flat-screen TVs and see if the former Trolley Dodgers, transplanted from Brooklyn, can finally get to the World Series. At this point, they don’t even have to win. Just get there, for Pete’s sake. All we want to do is watch multimillionaires running around playing a kids’ game. It would take a bleacher full of shrinks to explain why we do this when we could be doing something useful to society, like cleaning out the garage.

So why can’t we tune in and turn on, like those in the L.A. Basin, who get the games on Time Warner Cable? I hesitate to try to explain why we’re shut out. The byzantine negotiations are exceeded in grim determination, greed, and selfishness only by what’s going on in poor Ukraine.

All I really know for sure is that Time Warner Cable paid the Dodgers $8.35 billion (that’s with a B) for rights to carry the games. But TWC hasn’t been able to get other major cable outfits to also carry the games. Or something.

There’s more, much more, that you don’t want to hear about, which, as you might suspect, involves mergers among the cable kings and, of course, federal okays of the mergers. Or something.

Unless you live in an area served by TWC and a few tiny cable outfits, like one in Bakersfield, you’re out of luck.

I think much of the fans’ frustration stems from a boyhood (or girlhood) love of playing the game and probably imagining oneself out there running, batting, and throwing, a skill I didn’t quite have enough of to make it to the “Bigs.” I put in my time on a rocky field on Chicago’s South Side, batting with a battered Louisville Slugger and trying to hit a ragged ball held together with electricians’ tape. With real equipment I no doubt could have gone on to play centerfield for the Cubs, but oh well.

I read that after this season, Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke, just 31, will be in his final three years of a contract that guarantees him a tidy $71 million. But seeing that star pitchers are going for up to $210 million for seven years of hard servitude, there’s speculation that he might opt out of his Dodger contract next year and go for some real money for his old age.

But the truth is, I’m not moving to Bakersfield, even to watch Greinke earn his pathetically crappy $23 million this year. I’d rather clean out the garage ​— ​unless Swamp People is on.

EAT YOUR HEART OUT: The Granada Theatre was jammed with an excited band of foodies the other night, ardent fans of TV cooker Ina Garten, brought by UCSB’s Arts & Lectures. I’d say the audience was about 95 percent female, hanging on every word of cookery advice and stories about how the cookbook writer fended off TV fame until she finally gave in.

At a reception earlier, 16-year-old Isabelle Walton Masters, a Santa Barbara High student, waited to chat with her idol. When asked if she would like to be a chef, Isabelle, already a dedicated cook, replied, “I think that would be fun.”

As Garten was leaving, I asked what her favorite dish was. Maybe boeuf bourguignon? She replied, “French apple tart.”


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