The San Francisco Giants seem to have this every-other-year thing down. After a so-so 2014 regular season in which they went 88-74 and snuck into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, the Giants won their third World Series championship in five years thanks to, among other things, a herculean effort from Madison Bumgarner.
When a franchise wins multiple championships in a short amount of time – in any sport, really – people within the organization typically say that each title is different and special in its way.
So, did last year feel different?
“Well, I’m not sure,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Each year, it’s a movie, as we like to say here. There’s so much that happens in the course of a season. I think the difference last year was I think the highs and the lows were more extreme throughout the 162-game season.”
The Giants got off to a great start – 42-21 – but wilted a bit in the summer.
“Gosh, we got into June and late July, we couldn’t win a game,” Baer said. “We were 5-18 in a stretch there. So we had very high highs early, low lows in the middle, and then September we kind of recaptured it, and then in October, we played well and won.”
The Giants beat the Pirates, 2-0, in the Wild Card, marking the first of several outstanding outings from Bumgarner. They then beat the Nationals in four games, the Cardinals in five games and the Royals in seven games.
“I think a lot of credit goes to keeping everybody sane through those ups and downs – to obviously Bruce Bochy, who does a tremendous job, and out front office led by Brian Sabean,” Baer said. “Each year we’ve won the World Series, we’ve been able to add people in the middle, and they’ve been meaningful.”
Last year’s additions included Jake Peavy and Joe Panik.
This year, however, the Giants have endured some subtractions, most notably Pablo Sandoval, who signed with the Red Sox.
“So here’s the thing,” Baer said. “We have had an amazing track record, I must say, of keeping guys – whether it’s Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Matt Cain, etc., etc. With Pablo, it was really an exception. We thought he was going to stay. He has his reasons (for leaving), and I’m not sure what they are. The American League is a different league than the National League. But we have no regrets. We won three world championships with him. We had him from the age of 17 through 28. He literally grew up as a Giant. There might have been some tough love along the way. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not, his decision. But we have nothing but the best things to say about him. He was a Giant and won three World Series and he will not be quickly forgotten.”
Replacing Sandoval is Casey McGehee, for whom the Giants traded in December.
“We believe we’ve been able to retool,” Baer said. “Casey McGehee is a real solid hitter who plays well in our ball park. Our ball park is a real tough home run park, and he’s a line-drive down hitter. He’s had a good spring. We think Casey can do well in Pablo’s spot.”
But in the end, the Giants’ success – as always – will come down to pitching. With Bumgarner, Cain, Peavy and Tim Hudson, the Giants have one of the deepest rotations in baseball.
“The secret to our success is we’ve been able to do it with pitching,” Baer said, “and the pitching’s going to have to come through again this year.”