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Dodgers Celebrate Comeback Win Vs. Arizona

The Los Angeles Dodgers recently trailed 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning against their closest division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks. In a thrilling comeback, a hit by Chris Taylor climaxed a dramatic four-run rally to win the game 5-4. The 42,000 fans in the stands were ecstatic. The Dodgers have been doing this all year, and they're battling the Astros for MLB's best record.

This is a Dodger team filled with attractive young stars and should be the best marketing opportunity for the franchise to solidify their hold as the favorite team in Southern California. Because of a four-year dispute between Spectrum and most of the cable carriers in Los Angeles, Dodger games are blacked out for almost 70 percent of the market.

Cody Bellinger

The number of fans who watch on Spectrum is not much larger than the fans who go to the stadium. The L.A. Times reports that they only rank 15th out of 29 teams in the league in the number of households that viewed games last season. This puts them behind much smaller markets like Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Los Angeles is the second largest television market in the country. Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino counties, which comprise the market, have almost 17 million people who could watch.

Because of this impasse, the Dodgers are losing revenue and fans. Forbes values the Dodgers at $2.75 billion, which ranks them as No. 2 in MLB. How much greater would that value be if it were not for this impasse?

Not surprisingly, the dispute is about money. The Dodgers created SportsNet LA, whose primary product is their games and sold the rights to then Time-Warner for $8.35 billion. When Time-Warner went to sell rights to the other cable carriers, those carriers balked on the high monthly rate of $4.90 that SportsNet was charging. Who's right and who's wrong?

Who cares?

The current deadlock has extended for four years. A destructive battle has deprived fans of the ability to watch unless they change their cable television service. I did change my own cable service because I have loved the Dodgers since they first came to town in 1958.

The Dodgers marketed Southern California like it was a small town in the late 1950's. They built in the community -- Little League nights, Straight A student nights, Rotary Club nights and Birthday Celebration nights. They bonded the massive area with the amazing talents of broadcaster Vin Scully, whose voice was heard on the transistor and car radios every night. They sold the concept of going to a Dodger game as an experience -- no matter who they were playing, what their record was or who was pitching. They had promotions with local businesses galore. But Vin Scully has retired. and his popularity will never be equaled.

The Dodgers have the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw. He is tall, handsome and telegenic. Shortstop Cory Seager was Rookie of the Year in 2016 and just made the All-Star team. Third baseman Justin Turner leads the NL in batting, looks like a cute character from a Disney cartoon, and is an All-Star. So is first basemen Cody Bellinger, a phenom straight out of "The Natural," who battling for the HR lead in the National League, -- and he wasn't even supposed to be in the majors this year. The Dodgers have the best relief pitcher in baseball, Kenley Jansen, who may never give up a walk again, another All-Star. They have RF Yasiel Puig, a charismatic and dazzling fielder and hitter. And the list of stars goes on and on. This is a team out of Central Casting that should be the darlings of Los Angeles.

I wrote a book "Winning With Integrity: How To Get What You Want Without Losing Your Soul" emphasizing that deadlock is absolutely destructive in sports. When two sides lock in and don't consider the position of the other it creates a confrontation where unintended consequences occur. Could the parties go to mediation or arbitration? Could the commissioner step in and force a solution? It cannot be in the best interest of Major League Baseball to have the second largest market in the country effectively blacked out on television.

It cannot help Spectrum or the Dodgers to miss this golden opportunity. It cannot be in the best interests of the other cable providers to deprive their viewers of the option to watch. Baseball is struggling to engage a younger demographic and this impasse certainly doesn't help. It is unfair to loyal Dodger fans who lead the league every year in attendance and spend millions on memorabilia and merchandise, to deprive them of the option to watch their team on television.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.