That's right -- as of right now, the Detroit Tigers have no deal to broadcast any of their games over "regular" TV. Fox Sports Net, available via cable and satellite, will carry 110 games this year, but no deal could be worked out between the Tigers and Channel 50 to put a 30 or 40 game schedule on UPN 50.
I can totally understand where Ch. 50 is coming from - paying big bucks to broadcast baseball doesn't seem to be a slam dunk in the face of declining ratings and a team that has been anything but stellar. The Tigers, thinking that the team will be better and more interesting this year, are probably asking for too much money for the local TV package -- forcing the 20-30% of people without cable or satellite to do without Tigers games this year.
It'd be nice for the Tigers to do what something like the Pistons have done with Channel 20-- work out a deal where the team essentially pays for the air time and produces it's own broadcasts, then takes whatever revenue they earn for itself. Working out a deal with a station like Channel 38 would seem to be a win-win situation. Add Channel 31 from Ann Arbor in the deal, and you'd have decent enough over-the-air coverage at a low price. If I ran Channel 38, I'd be pretty aggressive in attempting to get the Tigers - and then the other sports teams too when they become available. Turning 38 into a sports powerhouse would finally give that station some legs.
It's a sad day for Channel 50 as they now have lost all their regular season sports play-by-play deals. The Red Wings (when they return) are owned 100% by Fox Sports Net, the Pistons are now on Ch. 20, and now the Tigers are gone too. You have to wonder if the Lions preseaon games are worth it for 50 now that they've lost everything else.