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An enterprising barkeep and the Dodgers' TV dispute

LOS ANGELES -- Mateo Glassman and his business partner, James Bygrave, opened the Greyhound Bar & Grill in a gritty but up-and-coming stretch of Figueroa Street in Highland Park back in January.

The food is great, the craft beer list enticing and the atmosphere is comfy, and there was soon plenty of buzz in the surrounding neighborhoods. But Glassman, a huge Cleveland Indians fan, was looking for a nice hook to keep things humming for the middle of the week. He started reading about the dispute between Time Warner Cable, which operates the 24-hour, all-Dodgers channel, SportsNet LA, and other cable providers.

A light went on in Glassman's brain and soon he canceled DirecTV and ordered Time Warner Cable so he could carry Dodgers games, unlike many of the area's watering holes. During every game, he offers $16 pitchers of craft beers, $10 buckets of Old Milwaukee and $8 burgers that come with a Schlitz, among other Blue Hour specials.

Already, he has seen surprisingly big crowds, including for the Dodgers' home opener, for a series with the San Francisco Giants and for the game when Clayton Kershaw returned to pitch in Washington earlier this month. The bar is about four miles north of Dodger Stadium.

"On a Wednesday at 10 o'clock, I've got 50 people in here watching a Dodgers game," Glassman said. "They'd be home watching the game, otherwise. I've become a Dodgers fan because of this thing. I pray to God they never settle."

Of course, most Dodgers fans would beg to differ. As the dispute drags on toward the one-third point of the season, fans' disgust with not being able to watch their team on TV seems to be spilling out in all directions, toward the Dodgers, toward Time Warner Cable and toward DirecTV, the No. 2 pay-TV provider in Southern California.

Shortly after Yasiel Puig was doubled off second base in the Dodgers' 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday night, Ruben Lopez stepped outside for a cigarette break. The longtime area baseball coach is a regular at the bar, but he said he'd prefer to watch the games at home, if only he could.

"The TV thing is just ridiculous," Lopez said. "Big money just wants more money and we're left in the dark."

Only about 37 percent of Southern California households can watch Dodgers games as TWC continues to haggle with the other providers about subscription fees. These kinds of disputes aren't uncommon, of course. The YES Network was unavailable to many Yankees fans until New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped in and brokered a deal in 2003. About 40 percent of Houston households still can't watch the Astros, if they actually want to. And in San Diego, the sides were reversed. Time Warner was refusing to buckle to the subscription fees DirecTV was asking for.

None of this really matters to Dodgers fans. They're just hoping they can watch their team on TV before long. SportsNet LA has had a hashtag campaign on Twitter, #ineedmydodgers, and DirecTV has countered with a website that breaks down its side of the argument.

"We continue to receive incredible support from our customers, including from Dodgers fans, who tell us they absolutely don't want us to overpay," said DirecTV programming director Dan York.

Time Warner Cable declined interviews for this story but has said that DirecTV walked away from the talks and that the subscription fees it is asking for are not out of line with others around the country. So, for now, a resolution seems far from imminent. That means Glassman will keep serving up his Blue Hour specials and Dodgers fans will continue to simmer.