The business question that follows closely in the wake of the Giants’ World Series championship is: Can the team re-sign Pablo Sandoval.
The pressing philosophical question seems to be this: Can we call the Giants a dynasty?
The answer is no. Great year. Great organization. Not a dynasty. I understand that this may put me in the minority among Bay Area sports fans and journalists, but you should know that I’m not alone.
Here’s the response of someone who was asked last night whether this third World Series victory heralds dynasty status for the Giants:
“No. Well, I’m not saying it’s not, but I grew up with the Celtics, who I believe won 10. UCLA won how many? I’d like to think this is the beginning of maybe something special. But the dynasty stuff, if you’re a real sports fan, to me the dynasties – Yankees, how many did they win? Seven out of 10 or whatever back in the fifties? The carry-over years.”
The speaker was Dave Righetti, the Giants pitching coach. He was standing in a relatively dry corner of the winners’ clubhouse after Game 7. And Rags, I’m happy to inform you that UCLA won 10 NCAA championship in 12 years in the 1960s and 1970s.
OK, Righetti’s opinion does not close the case. Plenty of other Giants probably believe they are part of a dynasty. (The code words for this belief is: “That’s for people like you to decide, not us.”) Anyway, Righetti seemed to be arguing that the number 3 just isn’t big enough to declare the Giants a dynasty, but the standard set by Bill Russell’s Celtics and John Wooden’s Bruins may be unreasonable in the modern business of sports.
I point to other reasons. One is that the Giants didn’t even make the playoffs in two of the past five years. That’s not very dynastic. Also, they entered the postseason this year as the lowest seed in the National League. Their October was amazing in 2014. Their May-through-September was pretty good.
Those are small pieces of evidence, probably not big enough to deny San Francisco its dynasty label. There’s a bigger one for me. You can’t call 2010-14 Giants a dynasty because there is no such thing as the 2010-14 Giants. The 2010, 2012 and 2014 teams were all very different collections of talent.
When you think about it, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarners were the only players to play indispensable roles in all three World Series titles. Sandoval rode the pine in 2010. Tim Lincecum was a specter this year. I’m not discounting the power of relief pitching – it has been the heart of this team for five years – but I think it would be hard to insist that, individually, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt or Javier Lopez could not have been replaced in at least one of the three championship years.
And those are the only players to appear on all three World Series rosters.
Again, that doesn’t feel like a dynasty to me. Think of the Yankees team that won four titles between 1996 and 2000. Mariano Rivera. Derek Jeter. Mike Mussina. Bernie Williams. Jorge Posada. Tino Martinez. Paul O’Neill. Think of the Swingin’ A’s that won three straight in the early 1970s. Reggie Jackson. Sal Bando. Joe Rudi. Rollie Fingers. Catfish. Vida. Campy.
These were teams that kept their most recognizable players together for a number of years. They advanced as a unit. They didn’t mix and match. They lined up the same people every year and beat your ass.
Some of you will argue that I am devaluing the Giants because their personnel has been fluid. Just the opposite. The way the Giants have done it is the harder route. It’s harder for general manager Bruce Sabean, who must constantly reinvent his roster to be competitive. And it’s harder for manager Bruce Bochy, who must figure out how best to use and complement his players for a stretch run – and then do it all over again two years later.
What the Giants have done the past five years is nothing short of remarkable. It will get Bochy into the Hall of Fame, and perhaps Sabean, too.
It just doesn’t make them a dynasty.