Newsletter: Essential California: Dodgers claim victory after 31-year drought

Baseball players hugging and jumping in the air
Dodgers players celebrate their World Series victory against the Rays in Game 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Oct. 28, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

You could hear the fireworks going off in Los Angeles as soon as Julio Urías unleashed the 97 mph fastball that struck out Willy Adames for the third out in the ninth inning of Game 6. Soon the sound was coming from every direction — a rapt city turned revelrous as its team made L.A. history from a stadium in the heart of Texas.

The 31-year drought is finally over. On Tuesday night, the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1, clinching their first World Series title since 1988.

[Read the story: “Dodgers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays to win first World Series title since 1988” in the Los Angeles Times]


As my colleague sports columnist Helene Elliott writes, the victory brings a championship “to a generation that has grown up hearing about Kirk Gibson’s incredible home run, Orel Hershiser’s pitching feats and Tom Lasorda’s influence on the improbable 1988 title team but hasn’t had its own stories to add and cherish and tell over and over.” This is the franchise’s seventh title, and their sixth since moving to Los Angeles.

There will be plenty of lore about the 2020 championship and the strange, pandemic-shortened season of cardboard cutouts and piped-in crowd sounds that preceded it.

Justin Turner, whose quiet leadership shone during the championship season, was removed from the game before the Dodgers took the field in the eighth inning. The third baseman, who had spent a month in the bubble, had tested positive for COVID-19. But the game soldiered on.

It was a Series played entirely on foreign turf, with the Dodgers claiming victory 1,400 miles east of Vin Scully Avenue at the Texas Rangers’ new stadium.

With the Dodgers and the Lakers seizing titles in a matter of weeks, October has been a wildly momentous month for L.A. sports. But the celebrations have not come without pandemic fears.

As my colleagues report, Southern California officials are worried that the postseason success of the Lakers and the Dodgers may be playing a role in the increased number of coronavirus cases.


[Read the story: “As Dodgers and Lakers win, coronavirus spreads at celebrations, alarming health officials” in the Los Angeles Times]

Even congregating at outdoor restaurants, while shouting and cheering and hugging strangers without wearing masks, makes it “so easy to spread this virus,” said L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

A pair of wind-driven wildfires continued to rage Tuesday in Orange County, forcing roughly 100,000 Orange County residents to flee their homes. The Silverado and Blue Ridge fires have destroyed at least 10 homes and injured five firefighters. The combination of smoke from those fires, along with a couple of nearly extinguished blazes in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, made Southern California’s air quality the worst in the nation on Tuesday. Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Police Department received approval Tuesday to begin recording and storing aerial footage of protests and other large gatherings from its helicopters — a new capability that the department said would expand its “operational readiness” and protesters and civil liberties advocates denounced as unconstitutional government surveillance. Los Angeles Times

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It’s a new day for New Age music: The genre is thriving once again in Los Angeles. New York Times

A photo of a dominatrix leading a man on a leash through L.A.’s bougiest grocery store went viral. The incident at Erewhon raised questions in the BDSM community about the ethics of bringing the unconsenting general public into one’s kink scenes. Vice

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Here’s how California keeps early votes secret until election day. Some county registrars lock up equipment and threaten dismissal to protect California’s early votes from being tallied before election day. CalMatters

Signature verification for ballots is flawed, but it could be a factor in the race. In an election marked by uncertainties, the signature verification process for mail-in ballots is riddled with potential vulnerabilities and has never been tested on such a massive scale. Los Angeles Times

Two columns of signatures, with slight differences between the columns outlined in red
A ballot signature that doesn’t match the one on the registration file, like the ones above, can lead to votes being thrown out or contested.
(Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division, Texas Civil Rights Project)


NXIVM leader Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison. The disgraced self-improvement guru’s followers included millionaires and Hollywood actors. Associated Press


UC Berkeley is disavowing its eugenic research fund after a bioethicist and other faculty call it out. Berkeley’s announcement comes as campuses across the nation are stepping up efforts to repudiate those who promoted eugenics, including high-profile university leaders, amid the nation’s intensifying racial justice movement. Los Angeles Times

San Francisco is losing its 83-year-old Coca-Cola billboard. The company said it is shifting its advertising dollars away from traditional marketing to digital platforms. San Francisco Chronicle

“Larry is a hero of Stockton.” Larry Itliong, one of Stockton’s most noteworthy social-justice leaders, was recognized Sunday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Stockton Record

This San Francisco Thai restaurant’s $60 sampler tray is famous on Tiktok. But how does the extremely aesthetic platter actually taste? San Francisco Chronicle

A poem to start your Wednesday: “In Baseball” by Baron Wormser. Poetry Foundation


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Los Angeles: sunny, 76. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: partly sunny, 71. San Jose: partly sunny, 78. Fresno: sunny, 78. Sacramento: sunny, 78. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Lisa Robaire:

Growing up in L.A. I was always a Dodgers fan. When I was 26, I answered a phone call for my sales rep who was out of the office. “Would you tell him Orel Hershiser called?” “THE Orel Hershiser?!” I squealed. “You know who I am?” he asked. “You’re the bulldog!” I replied. We chatted briefly — he was so kind — and then he told me he was going to win the World Series for me. That was 1988. The rest is history. Go Dodgers!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.