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article imageOp-Ed: SF Giants prove again that the best baseball is team baseball

By Nathan Salant     Oct 31, 2014 in Sports
San Francisco - Say what you want about how the San Francisco Giants are undeserving of being Major League champions because they couldn't even win their division after the nearly interminable 162-game season.
OK, got that out of your system?
You're wrong, you know.
The Giants won the MLB championship (remember when we used to call the winning team "World Champions") for the third time in the past five years because they play the game the way it's supposed to be played and have just enough talent to win.
The Giants were hardly the league's best hitting or best pitching team, and their best-known stars, pitchers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, faded to footnotes this year due to injury or ineffectiveness.
The top Giants hitter, Buster Posey, finished fourth in the National League with a .319 batting average, and top pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, was fourth in the league with 18 wins.
But that was it — no 20-game winner, no batting title or home run crown, not like it was when Bobby Bonds' son, Barry, played most of his career in San Francisco during the steroids era, and not like you'd expect from a championship team.
In fact, the Giants tied with Oakland and Pittsburgh for the worst record (88-74) of all 10 teams in the playoffs.
The Giants had to beat Pittsburgh in a one-game playoff to become a wildcard entry to the National League playoffs; Oakland lost the American League's one-game playoff to the Kansas City Royals.
The 2014 World Series was only the second between wildcard teams since such ballclubs were first able to qualify for the post-season in 1994.
The Royals emerged from the American League much like the Giants — competence but no standout star at the plate, good pitching with a great bullpen.
So it was that the two least-likely playoff teams in both leagues were in the unlikely position to get hot at exactly the right time to get to the World Series.
What the Giants did have was strong coaching and, when all else is equal or nearly equal, coaching wins championships.
Want proof? The Giants have won MLB championships in three of the past five years after having won only two National League pennants and no World Series' in Bonds' 15-years with the team.
Not that the coaching was perfect or anything.
Remember, in game 2, how Giants manager Bruce Bochy left Tim Hudson out on the mound too long after he had lost his effectiveness?
To his credit, Bochy recognized that error and was able to pull Hudson in the second inning of the deciding game and turn the game over to the bullpen.
Is there anyone else who thinks he was reading my tweets?
Of course, the Giants already strong bullpen was bolstered by the steady presence of Games 1 and 5 starter Bumgarner the Indefatigable, who shut down the Royals for the last five innings of the seventh and deciding game.
But the Giants' already underpowered offense had suffered all series from a lack of extra-base hits by the normally reliable Posey and third-baseman Pablo Sandoval, prompting first baseman Hunter Pence, shortstop Brandon Belt and oft-injured Michael Morse to try to step in and assume the role.
Teamwork like that is spawned by good coaching; and that — more than statistics — is what wins championships in contemporary team sports.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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