The glory days of the San Francisco Giants
So far the San Francisco Giants’ efforts to buck the trend of missing the playoffs after winning the World Series the year before have been completely successful.
After losing the clutch Pablo Sandoval in free agency and Hunter Pence for a month and a half, it would’ve seemed like this would be the hardest year to do it.
But Bruce Bochy is still the manager and Buster Posey is still one of the best hitters in baseball with a .311 average and seven home runs. Angel Pagan is back contributing with a .323 average.
World Series hero Madison Bumgarner is back pitching well and hitting home runs off of Clayton Kershaw. And the surprise of all, Tim Lincecum is 4-2 with a 2.08 ERA.
The Giants are 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers after sweeping them. If the Dodgers aren’t careful, the Giants might take the NL West.
With the long, storied history of the Giants’ franchise, it’s almost impossible to believe this is the most prominent stretch in their 131 years of existence. But that’s what makes this run by the Giants all the more impressive.
The Giants have been one of the most successful franchises in baseball history and had some of the greatest players to ever play the game, but they never had a stretch where they won three championships in five years.
The Giants won two unofficial World Series in 1888 and 1889 when they were in New York. Indeed they were a powerhouse when they were in New York in the early years. In the era of Christy Mathewson, they one won World Series in 1905 then appeared in three straight World Series from 1911-1913, but they lost all three.
Prior to now, the Giants’ best run was 1921-1924. Featuring the underrated Frankie Frisch, pitcher Art Nehf and power-hitting first baseman High Pockets Kelly, the Giants won back-to-back championships over Babe Ruth’s New Yankees and four straight NL pennants.
In the 1930s they won over 90 games five straight years. With Hall of Famers Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott, the Giants won a World Series in 1933 and appeared in two straight in 1936 and 1937.
Then with perhaps the greatest player to ever play the game Willie Mays coming up as a rookie at age 20 in 1951, Bobby Thomson’s famous “Shot-Heard-Round-The-World” won the NL pennant. But they would lose the World Series, and despite having Mays for 20 years, they won one World Series in 1954 over the vaunted Cleveland Indians.
They moved to San Francisco in 1958 with Mays still in the fold and won the pennant in 1962; a team loaded with the likes of Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.
Mays was traded in 1972 and the Giants struggled throughout the ’70s and the early ’80s.
They made the “Earthquake” Series in 1989 and got swept.
Then the Giants would again have arguably the greatest player ever when Barry Bonds left the Pittsburgh Pirates to sign with San Francisco. The Giants made the postseason four times with Bonds, but made the World Series only once in 2002.
Of course it coincided with Bonds’ chase for history. Bonds set the record for home runs in a single season with 73 in 2001 and broke Hank Aaron’s career home run total of 755 in 2007. Bonds retired with 762 career home runs.
Though it was never empirically proven, Bonds was alleged to have taken performance-enhancing drugs to aid in his pursuit of the home run record.
This was known at the time Bonds was chasing Aaron’s home run record. It created a duplicitous moral stain across the sport of baseball. It completely changed how we look at baseball’s most cherished statistics. It’s in the statistics that baseball’s story is told. And that story would never be the same again.
The Giants were the background of this Greek tragedy.
Bonds isn’t mentioned that much anymore. Sometimes you forget he was ever there.
The championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014 helped in the healing process. It ushered in a clean slate for the Giants and helped wash away feelings of betrayal and animosity.
The Giants are at the center of the baseball world, but this time everything is right.