LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
I woke up Monday morning and scanned the Major League Baseball standings and felt the strange sensation of being back in the 1970s.
Not since the days of disco, polyester, platform heels and Technicolor uniforms have the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates been at or near the top of their divisions all in the same year.
And let me tell you, it is a refreshing sight.
As of Monday morning, the Reds, Dodgers and Pirates were either alone in first place or tied for first, while the Orioles were just a game out. And for most of the season, the O’s have been atop of the American League East.
Those four teams ruled the roost in the 1970s, combining for 12 World Series appearances and five titles. The Reds and Pirates both won their division six times and captured two World Series titles each. The Orioles won the AL East five times, made three World Series appearances and won one. L.A. took three NL West titles and made the fall classic three times. L.A. won 910 games in the 1970s. Cincy, 953. Pittsburgh, 916, and Baltimore, 944.
But since that time, these four teams have had their fair share of struggles. From 1980 through 2011, those four made only four World Series appearances, and none since 1990. Baltimore won it in 1983, Los Angeles in 1981 and 1988, and Cincinnati in 1990. The Pirates have failed to make a World Series trip since winning it in 1979. And several years these four have either been at or near the bottom of their division. It hasn’t been a good time to be a fan of these teams. Only Los Angeles have been the most consistently competitive of these four since 1990, yet post season runs have evaded them for most of those years.
But now things are different.
Of the four, the Orioles play in the most competitive division, the American League East, along with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays. But so far, the Birds have held their own against their division foes, and you definitely don’t want to go into extra innings against Baltimore, as the Orioles have won nine straight extra inning games.
Can these four teams keep it up all season? That’s a good question. It’s a long time until October, and a lot of things can happen. But so far, so good.
Will Adam Jones and Matt Wieters make people forget the names of Brooks and Frank Robinson? Will Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto take the place of Johnny Bench and Pete Rose? Will Dodger fans forget Steve Garvey and Ron Cey for Andre Either and Matt Kemp? Could Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente be forgotten for the likes of, wait a minute, I can’t even name a current Pittsburgh Pirate. Let me quickly check the Internet. Andrew McCutchen and A.J. Burnett. Really? Hmmm.
Still, this could be the start of another glory decade for these four stories clubs. Let’s hope so. I’m so tired of the same old winners year after year.