When you think about the most successful sports teams in recent memory, certain names jump out pretty quickly. In the National Hockey League, the Blackhawks or Kings have won four of the last five Stanley Cups. In the NBA, the Spurs have visited back-to-back Finals, having won the most recent series over Miami. The NFL, on the other hand, has witnessed six different champions across the last six seasons, although certain franchises such as New England and Indianapolis have built consistent playoff presences. However, across the sporting world, no team has achieved such a wide breadth of success as have the San Francisco Giants. But is the Bay Area now home to baseball’s next true dynasty?
On Thursday, the Giants made it three World Series titles in just five years. Without a doubt the Giants have distinguished themselves as baseball’s most successful franchise since the Yankees of the late-1990’s, who captured four championships in five years, including three straight, and who are widely accepted as a baseball “dynasty.” But what defines a dynasty? Has the definition of that elite characterization historically reserved for only the best of the best been transformed? And are the San Francisco Giants of 2010 and beyond now included in the company of the all-time legendary teams?
First off, we must define the parameters of a dynasty. Broadly speaking, baseball historians widely consider certain teams who captured multiple World Series titles in a span of a few years a dynasty. Three specific teams throughout baseball history stand out when the topic is broached. The Yankees from 1949-1953 are probably the most concrete example, as they won five consecutive World Series. Next, it is hard to argue that the Oakland A’s of the 1970s, taking three straight titles between 1972 and 1974, were a legitimate dynasty. And most recently, the aforementioned Yankees of the late 1990’s are also among the teams considered a dynasty by most people.
However, several teams throughout baseball history have won consecutive World Series, such as the Yankees of the late 1970s and the Blue Jays of the early 1990s, but rarely do baseball fans and experts refer to these teams as dynasties. So I think historically speaking, in order for a team to qualify as a dynasty, it must win more than just two straight World Series. Further, these three of the most widely agreed-upon dynasties all have one thing in common: each team won at least three straight World Series at one point.
So where do the Giants of present-day sit? Most would obviously agree that they have had a more successful run than those teams that captured two straight World Series, as their success has brought home three titles, albeit non-consecutively. However, I think the concept of winning multiple World Series in a row goes a long way in the dynasty debate. To string together consecutive, three straight, four straight, or even five straight titles, implies not only sustained success, but sheer dominance. The Yankees teams of the 50’s and the 90’s dominated, and this was without question. The A’s of the 70’s were untouchable during that era. Would people today look at the current San Francisco Giants and call them “dominant?” Certainly they have made their noise in convincing fashion. However, what separates the Giants from the true dynasties of yesteryear is that their titles are all separated by years of defeat-most notably in 2013 when the Giants did not even make the playoffs. I think even the most staunch defenders of this current Giants’ run would agree that one needs to reach the postseason to be in the dynasty conversation. Further, never during their run have the Giants finished with the best record in the Majors. In fact, they didn’t even finish with the best record in their own division in 2014. Impressive run-even dominant-but they fall somewhat short of the the past greats I have mentioned.
The complete 25-man effort the Giants have put forth since 2010 has truly been astounding, even historic. However, to compare the 2010-2014 Giants to the great dynasties in history is to do an injustice. Yes, they have been baseball’s most sustained success throughout recent history. Yes, they have become the model for winning in this new age of pitching and defense. Yes, they have strung together titles across a whopping five years. However, fans and experts alike would struggle to argue that the Giants have dominated baseball and created a dynasty to rival those