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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Strange Dynasty Of The San Francisco Giants Is Over. (Yes, It Was A Dynasty.)

Over the course of the past decade, the San Francisco Giants put together one of the strangest dynasties in baseball history. And now it is officially coming to an end.

The Giants still have five players left over from their 2014 championship season, but the returns have diminished greatly since then. The team is in last place in the National League West; the FiveThirtyEight model currently predicts it to finish 70-92, which would be one of the worst records in franchise history.1 And it could get worse by season’s end, with ace Madison Bumgarner (among others) on the trade block.

The Giants got here in part by trying to extend the dynasty past its expiration date. But who can blame them? When a team’s initial successes defy the odds, it can be especially difficult to know when a downturn is permanent or just a detour along the road to another title. This is especially true of San Francisco, which sandwiched two mediocre nonplayoff seasons in between World Series titles. But we come here not to bury the Giants’ dynasty but to praise it — and imagine how Farhan Zaidi, the new president of baseball operations, might construct another one where the original once stood.

So what makes the Giants’ dynasty of the 2010s — and yes, it was a bona fide dynasty — maybe the most interesting ever?

Some commentary on the team so many people here have loved to hate.

QLE Posted: May 22, 2019 at 08:00 AM | 123 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dynasties, giants

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   101. Booey Posted: May 23, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5845122)
flip
   102. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 23, 2019 at 04:40 PM (#5845127)
If we're talking hockey, don't the Islanders and Oilers fourpeats belong? I think four straight Championship wins is an automatic dynasty.
   103. Rally Posted: May 23, 2019 at 04:43 PM (#5845130)
I think the Big Red Machine qualifies.

1970-76 - 4 WS appearances, 2 titles. They had one bad year in 71, lost 83 games. The other 6 years they played at a 100 win pace. After that they averaged 90 wins for another 4 years, then had the best record in baseball for 1981 (and still missed the playoffs! despite 8 teams getting in from a 26 team MLB).

Compared to the contemporary A's, they lasted a bit longer (thanks to Finley's tanking to start the free agent era), and were more dominant in the regular season. The A's won 101 games in 71, but 90-94 in their 3 WS years.

Their advantage over the Reds comes down to winning 3 WS to 2, but the Reds at least got to 2 others. Plus one of the series was between the A's and Reds, and was as close as you can get. It went 7 games, 6 of which were decided by one run, including game 7.

   104. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 23, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5845137)

If we're talking hockey, don't the Islanders and Oilers fourpeats belong? I think four straight Championship wins is an automatic dynasty.

Those were listed in #83.
   105. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 23, 2019 at 07:40 PM (#5845199)
If you were to attempt to come up with a formula to define dynasty


Here is Bill James' formula:

We give teams credit for what they accomplish in a single season in the following way:

1) If the team wins the World Series and also wins 100 or more games during the regular season, we credit them with 6 points.

2) If the team wins the World Series but wins less than 100 games during the season, we credit them with 5 points.

3) If the team wins its league (but not the World Series) and wins 100 or more games, we credit them with 4 points.

4) If the team wins its league but does not win 100 or more games in the season, we credit them with 3 points. Also, if a team wins its division and wins 100 games (but does not win the league championship) we credit them with 3 points.

5) If the team wins its division with less than 100 wins, we credit them with 2 points. Also, if a team wins 100 games but does not win its league or its division, we credit them with 2 points.

6) If the team wins 90 games but does not win its league or division, we credit them with1 point. Also, if a team makes post-season play in any fashion, even without 90 wins, we credit them with one point.


If every dynasty ran seven years, let us say, then we could simply measure each team’s accomplishments in a seven-year window. Unfortunately, since some dynasties come and go quickly and others linger around for decades, no such simple process will deliver acceptable answers.

We keep a running total of a team’s successes. After each season, the team’s dynastic running score either goes up, or it goes down. It doesn’t stay the same unless it is at zero and stays at zero. Either the team accomplishes something in that season consistent with their being a great team, or it’s a "negative" season and their score goes down.

If a team has no qualifying accomplishments in a given season (ie, if they didn’t win 90 games and didn’t make post-season play), we charge a negative two points to the running total. If they have no qualifying accomplishments and had a losing record in that season, then that’s negative three.

When the dynastic running total goes to zero, the run is over; the dynasty or the run of good seasons that is attempting to qualify as a dynasty ends at that point. Actually, it doesn’t end then; it ends at the point at which the last point was scored, but we don’t know for sure what that point is until the score goes to zero.

Our definition of a dynasty is: A Running Score of at least ten at some point in a series of successful seasons.
   106. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 23, 2019 at 07:50 PM (#5845200)
So, if I read 105 correctly, The Cubs are currently a dynasty:

1 point for 90 wins in 2015
6 points for winning the WS with 100 wins in 2016
2 points for winning the division with 90 wins in 2017
1 point for winning 90 games in 2018.

10 points.
   107. Brian C Posted: May 23, 2019 at 09:34 PM (#5845214)
I don't really get hung up on dynasty talk, but my definition would be simple, if imprecise:

Over an extended period of time, there has to be enough separation, either real or perceived, between Team A and the rest of the league that Team A is a consensus favorite to win a championship. The current Patriots and the current Warriors are perfect examples of this - even in the years when they don't win championships, they are generally considered "the team to beat." They're the class of the league, year in and year out.

Because of this, I think the idea of two concurrent dynasties is daft. Go down that road, and you end up with no distinction between "great team" and "dynasty." The whole point of a dynasty is that they stand alone at the top. Otherwise, what's the point?

Now you could narrow your focus and say, for example, that the Braves were an NL East dynasty back in the day, or the Dodgers are a currently an NL West dynasty. But neither one of those hold a candle to the way we all regarded the Yankees in the late 1990s-early 2000s. Because those Yankees, they were a freaking dynasty - even when the Mariners blew up the AL in 2001, everyone figured they'd just lose to the Yankees anyway. And they did!

So the Giants ... no. They're a team that won three championships. An admirable, even historic feat. But that's just not what we're talking about here.
   108. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:55 PM (#5845237)
The only real post-expansion dynasties that lasted more than a few years have been the 1995-2012 Yankees and the Braves from 1991 to 2005. But even those don't even come close to history's one real dynasty, the 1920-64 Yankees. 45 years, 29 pennants, 20 World Series, and 44 first division finishes, with 39 straight 1st division finishes between 1926 and 1964. That's more pennants and World Series winners in 45 years than any other team has won in its entire history.
   109. . Posted: May 24, 2019 at 06:13 AM (#5845267)
I think my starting point is at least 3 championships over at most 6 years, or an otherwise 50% rate over a longer period. And then some strong requirement in the off-years, like at least one playoff series win or in the old baseball postseason, at least winning your division. That puts the line above the 2010s Giants and the Bad Boy Pistons, which is my gut feel for teams that should be close to, but clearly below, the line. Six years is my bare minimum and even that might prove to be too low.
   110. . Posted: May 24, 2019 at 06:19 AM (#5845268)
So, if I read 105 correctly, The Cubs are currently a dynasty


Return to sender.
   111. bunyon Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:59 AM (#5845271)
I don’t think six years are necessary but for me it is necessary to be both great and win multiple championships and get close to winning in off years. So the 2010s giants are out based on regular season performance and results in non title years. The Braves are out because of just the one title (though it’s fair to call them a NL dynasty). The Indians of the same time are out for no titles.

The Yanks of the era are in because they racked up titles and regular season excellence.
   112. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 24, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5845319)

Maybe my view is colored by being a Mets fan, but the Braves definitely felt like a dynasty in the 90s-early aughts. Every year you asked yourself whether your team had what it took to topple the Braves. And in 2000, when the Mets went to the World Series, it felt a little (just a little!) cheap because they didn't actually have to beat the Braves -- either during the regular season or playoffs -- to get there.

I also think winning 3 championships in a row makes you a dynasty even if it's just for those three years. You don't win three in a row without being the best team in the league for a sustained period, even if there's a little postseason pixie dust sprinkled in there to make it happen.
   113. DCA Posted: May 24, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5845367)
In addition to "there should only be one dynasty at a time" the other parallel that one could pull in from history is "there should always be a dynasty" so if you go that route you really need to calibrate your definition to minimize both the number of years with multiple dynasties, and the number of years with no dynasty at all.

In addition, I'd rather have two concurrent dynasties (especially one in the AL and one in the NL) than long periods with no dynasty at all. That's historical too - kingdoms have diverged and recombined with competing claims to the crown quite often.
   114. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 24, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5845380)
Maybe my view is colored by being a Mets fan, but the Braves definitely felt like a dynasty in the 90s-early aughts. Every year you asked yourself whether your team had what it took to topple the Braves. And in 2000, when the Mets went to the World Series, it felt a little (just a little!) cheap because they didn't actually have to beat the Braves -- either during the regular season or playoffs -- to get there.

I count the 1991-2005 Braves as a legitimate dynasty, although it's on a lesser level because of their postseason crudulence. But 14 NLE titles in 15 years isn't anything to sneeze at.

I also think winning 3 championships in a row makes you a dynasty even if it's just for those three years. You don't win three in a row without being the best team in the league for a sustained period, even if there's a little postseason pixie dust sprinkled in there to make it happen.

The only other team to qualify (beyond the ones already mentioned) by that standard would be the 1972-74 A's, which in retrospect was a very good team that was ahead of its time in having a deep bullpen that enabled them to go 14 and 5 in postseason 1-run games during their 3 year championship run. IIRC they didn't put up a single complete game in any of those 3 World Series, which at the time was an almost unheard of phenomenon.
   115. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 24, 2019 at 12:35 PM (#5845390)
So, if I read 105 correctly, The Cubs are currently a dynasty:


Correct.
   116. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 24, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5845395)

In addition to "there should only be one dynasty at a time" the other parallel that one could pull in from history is "there should always be a dynasty"


The whole concept of "Dynasty" seems to have been invented by the Greco-Egyptian historian Manetho for his history of ancient Egypt, and it should be noted that the 7th and 8th Dynasties were concurrent with the 9th and 10th Dynasties, as were the 13th and 14th Dynasties. The 15th and 16th Dynasties were concurrent, and the 17th overlapped with the 15th. (Not that Manetho necessarily understood that in his day).
   117. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 24, 2019 at 01:05 PM (#5845406)
I don't think that "dynasty" was ever much used to describe anything but actual historical cases until the TV soap opera series of the 80's came along. The sole exception was the 1920-64 Yankees, but even that run was never referred to as a "dynasty" until Peter Golenbock used it as the title of his 1974 book. Calling a disconnected series of one year wonders like the 2010-12-14 Giant a "dynasty" reeks of a participation trophy mentality.

If Giants fans want to lay claim to a semi-plausible dynasty, they should cite the McGraw teams of 1904-24, which won 10 pennants, 3 World Championships, and finished in the first division for 20 of those 21 years. Unlike the modern-day Giants, at least those McGraw teams had some staying power.
   118. . Posted: May 24, 2019 at 01:17 PM (#5845413)
But 14 NLE titles in 15 years isn't anything to sneeze at.


Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-CHOOO!!!!
   119. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 24, 2019 at 02:13 PM (#5845436)

The only other team to qualify (beyond the ones already mentioned) by that standard would be the 1972-74 A's, which in retrospect was a very good team that was ahead of its time in having a deep bullpen that enabled them to go 14 and 5 in postseason 1-run games during their 3 year championship run.


Yup. They also won 101 and 98 games in the seasons before and after those WS wins, respectively.

The whole concept of "Dynasty" seems to have been invented by the Greco-Egyptian historian Manetho for his history of ancient Egypt, and it should be noted that the 7th and 8th Dynasties were concurrent with the 9th and 10th Dynasties, as were the 13th and 14th Dynasties.

I've been on a Chinese history binge for the last few months and I have found it interesting the way that historians use the term "dynasty" in that context -- you have some dynasties that lasted 600+ years and some that lasted just a couple of decades, including one that only had one emperor but was still termed a "dynasty". You also had some periods where there were two contemporary dynasties ruling the North and South of China, and periods where one dynasty had formed but the previous one hadn't been completely deposed yet.

This is largely irrelevant to the discussion of sports dynasties, other than to say that I don't think the way that historians use the term should bind how we use it in athletic context.
   120. GGC Posted: May 24, 2019 at 08:03 PM (#5845513)
I think that Golenbock's book was the first grown-up baseball book that I read.
   121. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 24, 2019 at 09:20 PM (#5845530)
Unlike the modern-day Giants, at least those McGraw teams had some staying power.


You have to at least acknowledge it was much easier in the days of the reserve clause.
   122. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 25, 2019 at 08:16 AM (#5845565)
Relatively easier, yeah, but it still wasn't easy, and it wasn't until Ruppert and Huston started opening up their wallets and raped the Red Sox roster that a real dynasty began. And while the McGraw Giants were an NL dynasty in that 1905-1924 period, they still lost 6 out of 9 World Series.

The problem for keeping a dynasty going in the dead ball era was that a team's financial fortunes were tied pretty much to attendance and attendance alone, and other than the Giants and the Cubs, none of those earlier mini-dynasties could weather slumps in attendance or personal financial problems of the owner. Look at the A's and the Red Sox for examples of that.
   123. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 25, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5845579)
I don’t see how a team can be a dysnasty without winning consecutive championships, or qualifying for the playoffs in consecutive seasons, or perhaps even having a winning record in consecutive seasons. That there isn’t a good name for great years interspersed with bad ones isn’t a reason to misuse “dynasty”.
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