Yes, the Giants won and your sports editor is happy
October 30, 2014
OK, we'll keep this brief.
A glorious day dawned on Thursday as the San Francisco Giants are the World Series champions again. I am bedecked in orange and black, Halloween coming a day early.
Did the best team in baseball win?
The Nats or the Angels were probably the best teams in baseball.
We live in a different era of baseball. The reformatting of the playoffs in 1969 and 1994 (finally implemented in 1995), as well as free agency, starting in 1976, changed everything. In 25 years from 1969-1993, with just division winners meeting in the playoffs, only six times (1969, 1971, 1978, 1979, 1986 and 1992) did the teams with the best records in their respective leagues meet in the World Series.
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The Mets (82-79) of 1973 won the NL pennant and the Cardinals (83-78) of 2006 took the whole thing.
Even with the wild card(s), this ain't new.
Four wild cards before the 2014 Giants won the Series. Ironically, three of them went through the Giants in the playoffs (1997 and 2003 Marlins and the 2002 Angels) to take home the prize. (Not bitter about them, really.) The 2011 Cardinals are the fourth.
It's "get in and get hot," and the Giants know how to do this at this point. San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy is the best in the game in managing this format, particularly with regard to managing a bullpen and maximizing his sometimes-questionable talent. His next stop is Cooperstown.
Is this a dynasty?
Not in the true definition.
Dynasties are the 1936-39 and 1949-53 Yankees or the 1929-31 and 1972-74 A's. If you don't repeat as world champions, winning multiple pennants as the Cardinals of the 1930s and 40s is a must.
The fact that the Giants are the first National League team since those Cardinals (1942, 1944 and 1946) to win three titles is something to savor. That's really good company. While NL teams don't win like the Yankees did in the days of yore, the circuit's history is littered with great teams.
The pattern of 2010, 2012 and 2014 also shows how tough it is to navigate a minimum of three rounds of play. In 2011, even before catcher Buster Posey went down in heap, the Giants were gassed. Same in 2013. Tacking on an average of 16 games, San Francisco's average during its postseason appearances, per season every other year takes its toll.
Look what happened to the 2013 champion Red Sox. They went 71-91 in 2014.
Is Bumgarner the greatest World Series pitcher ever?
The Cardinals' Bob Gibson remains the standard. He started Games 1, 4, 7 of the 1964, 1967 and 1968 World Series, went 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA over 81 innings with eight complete games and two shutouts. Think about that. Gibson made nine starts totaling 81 innings and had "only" eight complete games. He walked 17 and fanned 92 during that stretch.
MadBum was absolutely superb in this year's Series and clearly the decisive factor for the Giants in their playoff run this year. The reason we're so surprised Bumgarner went five innings in relief in Game 7 after two starts is that we baby the heck out of pitchers these days. Bochy didn't and Bumgarner surprisingly did not spontaneously combust after throwing 21 innings in this Series. Gibson averaged 27 innings pitched per World Series.
Do I care?
Not in the slightest.
I'm pretty sure the birds were chirping merrily this morning when I woke. (OK, it was the afternoon and I don't listen for birds.)
This is why we watch sports. Through all the years — 1977 for me — you watch with the hope that this will happen just once. And when it does, it's better than you imagine. Three times in five years is ridiculous.
My team made me happy, and life is good.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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