The San Francisco Giants just won their third National League pennant in five years and, as of this post, are tied 1-1 with the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. The Giants were World Champs in 2010 and 2012.
So, does Manager Bruce Bochy have a legitimate claim to be at the helm of a dynasty as columnist Tim Kawakami claims ?
Nope, not even if his charges beat the Royals and claim an even-year threepeat. But while San Francisco may not have a team for the ages, they do have a manager for them.
In 2011 and 2013, the Giants didn’t even make the playoffs.
To be a dynasty, you need to string championships together like 1949-53 Yankees who are the only team to win five straight world championships or the 1996-2003 Yankees who won four World Series over a five-year period, six American League pennants during that eight-year span and appeared in the playoffs every year.
Besides their failure to win year in and year out, there’s another reason the Giants aren’t a dynasty. The San Franciscans, while good, are hardly an extraordinary bunch. Their manager, on the other hand, may well be one of the all-time greats.
When you think of the two Yankee dynasties, you think of a core group of Hall of Famers surrounded by players who approach that level. The late 40s early 50s iteration boasted all-time greats Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Phil Rizzuto, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle led by the “Old Perfessor” Casey Stengel. These six Cooperstown inductees had support from very good every day players Hank Bauer, Gil McDougald, and pitchers Allie Reynolds, Ed Lopat, Vic Raschi, and Ewell Blackwell. Befitting the only team to win five straight world championships, they were wall-to-wall deadly.1
The mid-20th century Bronx Bombers weren’t necessarily superior to the pinstripers of the late 90s into the early 2000s. The latter-day Yankees boasted Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada. This “core four” included one of the two best shortstops of the integrated era – Jeter – and the greatest relief pitcher of all time – Rivera. Pettite, a clutch left-handed starter, and catcher Posada are borderline Hall of Famers. Add to these stars near greats Bernie Williams in center field, right fielder Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius at third, Tino Martinez at first, and starting pitcher David Cone.
Nine outstanding to immortal players wore pinstripes in each of the championship years from 1996 through 2000. This summer, their manager Joe Torre was welcomed into Cooperstown where Jeter and Rivera will soon join him. And, there were lots of other greats and near-greats who spent time in the Bronx during those years including: Wade Boggs, Tim Raines, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, David Wells, and Roger Clemens. Incredibly, this bunch won eleven straight playoff series from 1998 – 2001 in contrast to the relatively paltry five in a row that the mid-century Bombers needed to take their five straight titles.2
Compared to both Bronx teams, the 2010-2014 San Francisco Giants have had a relatively ordinary player roster. Ironically, the very averageness of Bochy’s players strengthens the argument for his greatness as a manager.
. . . Click here for Part 2.