In 2012, Major League Baseball created an extra playoff game to motivate teams to win their division. Playing an extra game in the playoffs was designed to eliminate the Wild Card teams early. Neither the Giants nor the Kansas City Royals would give up on their goal of becoming the best in baseball even though the odds were against them.
The Royals didn't win this particular World Series, but they demonstrated that they belong on the national stage. The excitement in Kansas City for baseball was great to see after many years when the Royal organization did not field a competitive team.
However, this year belonged to the Giants even though they had an uphill battle to be 2014's best team. They have overcome many serious injuries to important players, forcing manager Bruce Bochy to develop a different plan than his original. No National League team had won three world championships in five years since the 1940s before the Giants did it Wednesday night. Now many people have begun talking about the dynasty in San Francisco.
What the Giants have done since 2010 has been truly remarkable, but I don't know whether they have a dynasty or not. I know Bochy is a lock to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame someday. His remarkable calmness and ability to get the most out of his players are what has enabled the Giants to have this amazing run. He believes his players can accomplish anything that they desire. He gives them opportunities to succeed no matter how young they are, and they usually reward his confidence.
A lot of the Giants have come through the organization as young players. They know what the team wants from them, and they understand what kind of baseball that San Francisco needs to win. They have loyalty to the organization, and they have played together developing trust and friendships. Using homegrown players enables general manager Brian Sabean to keep the payroll reasonable, and has allowed the Giants to have long-term success.
What Madison Bumgarner did during the postseason was truly unbelievable, and he is the reason that the Giants are world champions. No other pitcher in the history of baseball had thrown as many innings during the postseason as Bumgarner. Every time he took the mound, he baffled the opponent no matter who it was. If the National League Division Series had a MVP, it would have been Bumgarner. He earned both the National League Championship Series and World Series MVPs. There is no doubt that without Bumgarner's excellence the Giants wouldn't have won the Fall Classic.
Bumgarner allowed only one run in 21 innings during the World Series. After hurling a shutout on Sunday, he pitched five scoreless innings on Wednesday in relief to seal the victory. The impatient Royals never learned how to lay off of his high fastball. When they couldn't adjust to him, he continually exposed their weakness to have the greatest World Series performance that any pitcher has had. He's only 25, and he has three World Series rings. The pressure of the World Series doesn't bother him, and he thrives on it. If he doesn't do anything else in his career, he will live in baseball history, especially in the Giants' history, forever.
When Matt Cain had a multitude of injuries that included an elbow problem needing season-ending surgery in July, many baseball people thought they had heard the last from the Giants in 2014. Tim Lincecum, two-time Cy Young winner, had to be removed from the starting rotation in August for ineffectiveness. Not many baseball people thought the Giants had enough starting pitching to remain competitive in the NL West.
Bumgarner embraced his new role as ace of the Giants' starting rotation. Every time he took the mound, he had improved his control and became more confident. He along with mid-season acquisition Jake Peavy, enabled the Giants to earn the National League's third Wild Card berth.
The Giants didn't have much offense during the World Series, and yet both Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence always delivered. Sandoval,who now becomes a free agent, played spectacular defense throughout the World Series. Joe Panik, a rookie second baseman, never seemed nervous even with the unusual pressure, and he represents the future for the Giants.
After watching San Francisco for the whole season, it's impossible for me to comprehend that they could win a world championship. Yes, they had talented players, but every time it seemed like they were getting on a roll, someone was getting hurt. They needed to find another person to fill a crucial role. Bochy never had managed so masterfully to get into the postseason. With all of the injuries and experimenting with the lineup to find something that worked, to me, the San Francisco Giants had their impossible dream become a reality.