If the San Francisco Giants were to win the World Series this year, would they be considered a dynasty?
Three championships in five years would answer this question with a resounding yes. But then, how come this spring, the term “dynasty” is more associated with a tv show about a bunch of people with long beards and ducks than with a baseball team?
It could be that nobody expects the Giants to win the World Series this year. They are not even predicted to win their own division. The experts overwhelmingly are picking the star studded Dodgers to win the National League West. But beyond playing the underdog this season–which ironically is the mindset that fueled both of their World Series Championships (who can forget the self proclaimed “misfits” from 2010 and the six playoff elimination wins in 2012)–why else could the Giants be the most under-the-radar dynasty of all time?
There are two levels of dynasties: those with three or more closely bunched titles, and those that encompass even a longer period of dominance. For example, the Celtics won 11 titles between the years of 1957-1969, including eight in a row! The Yankees won 10 titles between 1947-1962, and they have many other similar runs while amassing their 27 world titles. The Bulls had two 3-peats in a 9 year period, the 49ers won 4 titles in 9 years, and the Lakers have five titles since the year 2000.
Three titles in a short span are considered a dynasty and a start towards something greater, although not in the out-of-the-stratosphere top echelon defined by the Celtics and Yankees.
So why are so few people talking about the Giants as a potential dynasty? For one thing, they missed the playoffs in 2011 and 2013. However, while making the Giants an under-exposed team, this shouldn’t really matter in a dynasty discussion considering their efficiency when they have made the playoffs. But it is true that missing the playoffs during a dynasty is not something seen too often. For example, in the glory years of the 49ers of the 80’s and 90’ they won five Super Bowls and also made the playoffs 16 times and played in a whopping ten NFC Championship games. So in addition to a lot of heartbreak from being just one win from the Super Bowl five times, the 49ers were almost every year part of the national conversation as a top team during playoff time.
Another part of what defines a dynasty to sports fans are the recognizable players that were present during the reign. Star players like Bill Russell, Joe Montana, Joe DiMaggio, Terry Bradshaw, Derek Jeter, and Michael Jordan are some of the faces identified with a dynasty. There is also a team nucleus that hammers down a dynasty in the psyche of sports fans—players like K.C Jones and John Havlicek, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice, Lynn Swan and the Steel Curtain, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Micky Mantle and Whitey Ford, the Yankee “Core Four” of Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Pasada, and of course Scottie Pippen.
Do the Giants have a consistent nucleus forming?
Offensively, the Giants do not have very much continuity in their title runs. In fact, only one position player is a starter today who also started consistently during the 2010 playoffs: Buster Posey.
But along with Posey comes the true insignia of a dynasty, and that is the pitching. Still on the roster from the 2010 championship are starters Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Tim Lincecum. Javier Lopez also contributed in each World Series. Sergio Romo and Pablo Sandovol have also been on each team but were both shut down in the 2010 playoffs after faltering in the first round against the Braves. These bold managerial decisions to shut down Romo and Sandoval in the postseason reveal another key and consistent cog of the Giants during this stretch: Bruce Bochy. So Cain, Bumgarner, Posey, Lincecum, and Bochy are the nucleus that baseball fans will recognize as the Giants dynasty starting from the beginning if they win it all in the next few years.
Finally, the Giants are overshadowed by the media darling Red Sox, who ended an 86 year World Series draught and have won 3 World Series in the last ten years. The Red Sox have only one player left from their 2004 and 2007 championship—David Ortiz—but they are also very close to being a dynasty. The two championships in four years that the Giants have is a better ratio than the three in ten years that the Red Sox have, but both of these teams are leaving their imprint in history and building on this.
If the Giants do win the title this year or next, they will have gotten to this place quietly and very efficiently. Given that they have won the championship during the last two even years of 2010 and 2012, this pattern does call for another one in the year 2014. If the Giants are able to do it, instead of a “back to back” or 3-peat fame, they could go down as the “even-peat”. And given that Bumgarner is still only 24 years old and Posey is 27, a third title would make them a dynasty and also put them on the road to playing for the top tier of iconic sports dynasties.