The Los Angeles Dodgers compete in their first World Series in 29 years. How long ago was that?
Don Sutton pitched, and Rick Dempsey caught, games for the Dodgers during that championship season.
Lana Turner, Sammy Davis Jr., and Gene Kelly all resided in Beverly Hills back then. The Lakers played in the Fabulous Forum. Everybody in Los Angeles, including wife Nicole, still loved O.J. Simpson, who starred as Detective Nordberg in The Naked Gun that year. Daryl Gates served as police chief, Tom Bradley as mayor, and longtime local Ronald Reagan as president.
The Los Angeles skyline lacked Wilshire Grand Center, U.S. Bank Tower, Two California Plaza, Gas Company Tower, and so many other structures that now make the opening sequence of Dragnet appear so dated. Latinos, not blacks, now dominate in South-Central, which, through the magic of the Los Angeles city council, now goes by South Los Angeles.
Some things, however, remain the same. The Rams call Los Angeles home.
Everybody made a big deal when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a century-plus outside of the winner’s circle or when the Boston Red Sox captured their first Fall Classic in 86 years in 2004. But time passes differently in Tinseltown. One needs a conversion chart to show that, like the differences between dog years and human years, 29 Los Angeles years at least equals 86 or 108 years in other cities.
Perhaps the fan base of the Houston Astros harbor the most justifiable gripe upon reading articles noting the championship draught in L.A. Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, Mike Scott, Jeff Bagwell, Bob Watson, Cesar Cedano, and so many others toiled in Houston without a championship to show for it. And since the Houston Colt ’45s began operations in 1962, Houston has changed at least as much as Los Angeles. Their baseball team, which once competed in the National League West against the Dodgers, doesn’t even play in the same league anymore.
Whatever the Dodgers did wrong over the last 29 years and the Astros did wrong over the 66 years of its history, this season offered them 162 games to do it right, to redeem underperformance, incompetence, and disappointment. And for the first time since Orioles-Reds in 1970, both World Series clubs hit the century mark in regular-season victories. Forty-seven orbits of the sun may not come close to the length of 29 Los Angeles years (or 65 Houston years). Still, 104 wins verses 101 wins rates as a Fall Classic worth the wait for baseball fans—in Los Angeles, Houston, and everywhere.