The San Francisco Giants barely had time to pull the corks off the champagne before the question was asked: Are they a dynasty? The reaction was intriguing because no two answers were the same.

Giants reliever Javier Lopez said:

I don’t know the definition of ‘dynasty’ is when it comes to baseball … Three rings in five years, when you have to grind through 162 games just to make it to the postseason … If that’s what you want to define as a dynasty, then we’ll take it.

Jonathan Frasier Light’s tome The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball never defines what a dynasty is, but points to several markers in history including the New York Giants (1903-1925), Philadelphia Athletics (1927-1932) and more recently the Oakland Athletics (1971-1976), Cincinnati Reds (1970-1978), Atlanta Braves (1991-2003) and New York Yankees (1993-2004). Of course, there are other teams over shorter and longer periods that could be included, but isn’t that what makes this debate so interesting? There are no criteria that define what a dynasty is.

San Francisco has now won three World Series over the last five years (2010, 2012 and 2014), but never in consecutive years. Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti told Yahoo! Sports:

I grew up with the Celtics and UCLA. What did UCLA win under John Wooden? If you’re a real sports fan, that’s what a ‘dynasty’ is.

For the record, UCLA won 10 NCAA titles from 1964-1975, including seven straight and the Celtics won 11 NBA titles over 13 seasons, including eight in a row from 1959-1966.


This USA Today infographic shows just how difficult it is to keep a championship roster intact:

The definition of a dynasty – whatever it is – has evolved. Winning consecutive World Series titles is becoming increasingly difficult. The 1998-2000 New York Yankees are the last team to win at least three consecutive titles and, prior to that, you have to go all the way back to the 1972-74 Oakland Athletics.

The game of baseball has changed since the Swingin’ A’s of the 70s. Free agency, wild cards and revenue sharing have created an unprecedented level of parity in the game. The results are evident on the field. No Major League Baseball team has won back-to-back championships in 15 years. The dynasty days of UCLA, Celtics, Yankees, Reds and Athletics are over.

The modern dynasty is the ability to win multiple titles over a short period of time – more specifically, the length of a free agent contract. Conceivably, the World Series champion Giants could lose Pablo Sandoval, Sergio Romo, Michael Morse, Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong to free agency, making the likelihood of a repeat of 2014 extremely difficult.

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John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

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