By Mark FABRICK
Sports writer Mark Fabrick ventures out into the community to see how locals are getting their Dodger Blue fix.
The Los Angeles Dodgers currently sit at 48-39, a game out of first place in the National League West. The team has gone 17-8 since June 6 while making up a 9½ game deficit in the standings over a 21-day period. Sadly, much of the Los Angeles area, including La Crescenta, Montrose and La Cañada, have not been able to watch their beloved team on television for most of this season.
The Time Warner Cable impasse has been covered at length in the media and, sadly, it appears an agreement is nowhere in sight. This has led Dodgers fans to find creative ways to get their baseball fix. Some have found ways to stream games via the MLB.TV app, others have feasted on live look-ins on the MLB Network. Those who have a radio can still have the pleasure of listening to Vin Scully call the home games.
How has this affected local businesses, though? I headed out to a couple of local bars to see how they’re coping with not having the biggest sports draw in town available during the slowest time of the year for sports.
I first headed over to Leo’s Sports Bar, really the only true sports bar in the area. It was early in the evening, so the Dodger game had not yet started. There was a sparse crowd in the bar and the Angel game was on the big screen. I asked the bar staff their thoughts on not carrying their Dodger games and they acknowledged it was frustrating and that the Angels are just not as much of a draw at the bar.
Bar owner Leo Lesh voiced his frustration with the situation.
“I’m disgusted about it,” Lesh said. “This is a monopoly. Time Warner’s not allowed to be distributed in this area, so I can’t get it [SportsNet LA] even if I wanted to because it’s Charter’s area. I’d pay for it; I’d pay whatever it takes to get it. I’m a sports bar, how do I not have the Dodgers? The whole country gets the Dodgers except for the people who really want them. We pay $1,000 a year for the MLB package through DirecTV, but the games are blacked out. So, yeah, the whole thing disgusts me.”
Over on the other side of Montrose, business was booming at the trendy new Basin 141. Although it does not have the big screens that Leo’s has, and it is not by definition a sports bar (it’s more of a gastro pub), there were still several television sets that people at the bar were tuned into. Sure enough, though, it was MLB Network on most of the TV sets.
Apparently, Basin 141 was a haven for Kings’ fans during its recent Stanley Cup run, many of whom are presumably also Dodgers’ fans. When I asked the bar waitress if there had been any inquiries as to why the bar doesn’t carry the Dodger games, she simply responded, “Every day of my life.”
Obviously there is an appetite in the area for Dodgers’ baseball that is not being satisfied.
Despite the situation, the economically astute Lesh does not place the blame on the Dodgers, instead saying Time Warner Cable is the main culprit.
“I’ve seen everything where everybody’s blaming the Dodgers for being greedy. Well, no, they’re in business. Somebody made an offer; it’s not their fault,” explained Lesh. “Time Warner said they could get this deal done. All the pressure has fallen on Time Warner, and I don’t expect DirecTV and all these others to pick it up because it’s just this market.”
So unless Dodgers fans are at a game or listening in their car, those live streams and MLB Network updates are about all they have look to forward to in the foreseeable future.