They rewrote history. They made history. They believed. They prevailed – again.
By winning a third World Series in the last five years, the San Francisco Giants are the definition of a baseball dynasty – whether the baseball world wants to acknowledge it or not. A grueling, thrilling, 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday – a victory to secure the 2014 World Series in seven games – topped every Giants World Series achievement of 2010 and 2012.
Three World Series titles have been sweet, but this one was the sweetest because it was the most unexpected, the most contested and the most nerve-racking.
When Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval squeezed the last out and fell backward on the Kansas City field, the Giants celebrated with the same joy as in past years – but with an added sense of reverence earned the hard way.
Starter Tim Hudson clasped the face of pitching hero Madison Bumgarner with a kind of tenderness not often seen in professional sports.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy looked awed and spoke of feeling numb. General manager Brian Sabean had to choke back emotion as he described his feelings for his players as human beings.
This was greatness achieved with great humility. Unlike players of Giants past, these Giants do not brag. They do not strut. They do not taunt.
They reached this point together, with some former secondary performers stepping to the forefront, to make up for stars of 2010 and 2012 that stumbled.
When the talisman of a team – as catcher Buster Posey is for the Giants – falters badly as Posey did in this World Series, his team typically suffers.
But instead of Posey being a competitive drag, Bumgarner filled the void with a postseason for the ages. He pitched 21 World Series innings and allowed only one earned run. After he was inserted in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game with a one-run lead, the Giants rode their young ace the rest of the way.
The Royals simply couldn’t hit Bumgarner, though the tension level rose with each inning – the stress stoked by the knowledge that young Bumgarner was pitching with only two days’ rest instead of his customary four.
World Series legends are made when players push past the boundaries of fatigue or expectations to carry a team to victory. That’s what Bumgarner has done.
On Wednesday, he joined a very select group of pitchers in baseball history to win two games in one World Series and save a third. He was named the World Series Most Valuable Player.
It’s no wonder that Posey, the MVP of years past, hugged Bumgarner when it was over as if his big left-hander was a lifeline and he had been drowning.
In a sense, Posey was. Bumgarner’s historic performance spared Posey from being asked for the rest of his life why he batted only .154 in a World Series the Giants lost. But they didn’t lose and Posey could be seen collapsing on his knees, perhaps as much in relief as exhaustion.
Meanwhile, Sandoval – who was benched in the 2010 World Series for being ineffective and overweight – stroked 26 hits in this postseason, a record.
How is this not a dynasty? Posey is 27. Sandoval is 28. Bumgarner is 25. All were developed within the Giants system, along with Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo and a host of others who played key roles in three World Series titles.
The same ownership group, front office, general manager and manager developed and molded these core players.
The Giants did it differently and did it unexpectedly, winning it all without key players such as Cain and outfielder Angel Pagan, whose absence was supposed to spell doom but didn’t.
Since 2010, this group has broken the mold of what had been a half-century drought of championships for a Giants franchise that used to be wracked by the bitterness of October defeats.
All that has changed, and everything that was wrong with the Giants has been made right by this group that became the first Giants team dating back to 1912 to win a Game 7 of the World Series.
And this group became the first visiting team to win a World Series on the road since 1979 – 35 long years.
Along the way, the Giants have created a special atmosphere at AT&T Park, where each game is like a celebration. A Giants fans base from Fresno to Oregon to Nevada passionately follows this team in a way that breaks the mold.
Some say baseball no longer appeals to young people or women, but that is not the case in Northern California. The Giants are followed by people of all ages. The players are celebrated and beloved as individuals and a unit.
When the final out was recorded on Wednesday, Civic Center in San Francisco exploded with excitement and fireworks lit the sky over San Francisco City Hall.
In Sacramento, a packed de Vere’s Irish Pub made enough noise to be heard across the river in West Sacramento, where the Giants are beginning a new partnership with the Triple-A River Cats.
Car horns could be heard all over downtown Sacramento, a Giants town, that celebrates today with an entire region of fans devoted to this group of players.
If that’s not a dynasty, then nothing is.
Call The Bee’s Marcos Breton, (916) 321-1096.