Thursday, October 30, 2014

The San Francisco Giants Are World Champions Again - But Hardly a Dynasty

With that dramatic Game Seven win over the Kansas City Royals on October 29, 2014, the San Francisco Giants have captured their third World Championship since 2010 - an accomplishment no other National League team has achieved since the St Louis Cardinals did it - coincidentally - in the even-numbered years of 1942, 1944 and 1946.

So, are the Giants now a Dynasty?  Strangely enough, after the Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series - to capture their third title since 2004 - many baseball experts thought that made them a Dynasty.  

Well now, that Dynasty has since been interrupted by their second last-place finish in three seasons over there in the American League East.  That's an unprecedented accomplishment, however; no major league team has ever gone from worst-to-first-to-worst before.  Kudos to Boston for that bit of baseball history - but that weird three-season span is hardly what a Dynasty is supposed to do.

What about the Giants' Dynasty?  The Word Champion 2010 Giants missed the postseason in 2011.  The World Champion 2012 Giants not only missed the postseason in 2013, they finished ten games under .500.  Now, here they are in 2014 - World Champions again.  A Dynasty?  In just five years?  I believe dynasties need more time to be classified as such.  And they need to win more consistently.

Take for example, The New York Yankees - from Babe Ruth-to Joe DiMaggio-to Mickey Mantle.  They were The Dynasty.  One that lasted for forty-some odd years.  Now that's a Dynasty.

Of course, nothing lasts forever.  After falling into oblivion for a decade or so, the Yankees won a couple of world championships in the late '70's, then had a remarkable run from 1996 through 2000 - winning of four out of five world championships.  They almost made it five out of six - but a blown save by Mariano Rivera in Game Seven of 2001, ended their supremacy.  Their gradual decline continued with a strange six-game loss to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 World Series, followed by an unprecedented loss to the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS - blowing a three games to none series lead.

Of course, the Yankees were still a very good team and they recovered nicely in 2009, for another World Series title.  But age and some questionable free agent signings have turned them into an ordinary team - possibly a playoff contender in 2015 - but probably not - even with that huge payroll.

The recent success of the Giants has been remarkable, but let's look at the big picture - the current millennium - and compare the overall performance of the Giants vs their closest rivals - the St Louis Cardinals.

Postseason Appearances:  St Louis 11 - San Francisco 6

Division Titles:  St Louis 8 - San Francisco 5

NLCS Appearances:  St Louis 9 - San Francisco 4

World Series Appearances:  St Louis 4 - San Francisco 4

World Series Championships:  St Louis 2 - San Francisco 3

Obviously, when the Giants qualify for postseason play, they usually go very deep.  They've been unbeatable every time they play in a National League Championship Series (4 for 4) - and they've victimized the Cardinals 3 out of those 4 times.

Whenever the Cardinals don't have to play the Giants in the NLCS, they've done well - winning 4 out of 6.  Obviously, if this franchise is going to be perceived as better than their rivals, they've got to beat them in head-to-head postseason competition - and sooner or later, the Giants are bound to qualify for postseason play in an odd-numbered year.

Consistency has been the Cardinals' trademark over this fifteen season span.  Not only do they usually qualify for postseason play, they've only had one sub-.500 season over that time (in '07 - as defending World Series Champions).

The Giants, on the other hand, had a miserable four-season sub-.500 stretch ('05 - '08) and even had one as defending World Series Champions, themselves (in 2013).  Right in the middle of their Dynasty.

Will they somehow manage to finish below .500 in 2015 - or will they make it back to the postseason again?  Before they can legitimately be called a Dynasty, they've got to overcome the odd-numbered year obstacle.  Either that, or repeat their three in five trick one more time.  That was quite impressive - we all must admit.

If nothing else, the Giants could be on the verge of becoming a Dynasty, but then again, so could the Cardinals.

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