San Francisco Giants
While the Giants franchise through the years is considered one of the most successful teams in baseball, most of that was based on its time in New York. Since their move to San Francisco in 1958, success was hard to find, until the last decade. Alvin Dark, Roger Craig, and Dusty Baker all brought the Giants to the World Series, but not until Bruce Bochy took over did they actually win it all. But once they did, the winning came in bunches. The city of San Francisco first became a baseball champion in 2010, then did it again in 2012 and yet again in 2014.
Prior to winning those 3 titles, the team had already become wildly popular in San Francisco, especially since the turn of the century. In 2000, they opened up a new ballpark in the China Basin neighborhood right on the water of the San Francisco Bay. Then called Pac Bell Park, It was visually stunning and immediately housed a winner, as the Giants won the NL West division in that first year. In fact, during the first 8 years of the park’s existence, the Giants went to the playoffs 3 times, including one World Series appearance in 2002. But the highlight of those highly attended years was not the team, it was the man, Barry Bonds.
Bonds is still a beloved figure by the Bay Area fans as he took them on a home run hitting ride for the ages. He had 4 consecutive MVP winning seasons, including his single season record setting 73 home run campaign in 2001. In 2007, he surpassed Hank Aaron for the all time lead in long balls. He finished with 762.
While the journey was fun, it was marred by scandal. Bonds was accused of being at the center of a wide ranging steroid ring run by BALCO Labs. As the situation unfolded and unraveled, Bonds was accused of lying to the grand jury. His jury failed to reach a verdict on those counts, but did find him guilty of obstruction of justice. Because of the suspicion and scandal, Bonds is still not a part of the Hall of Fame today, despite his gaudy numbers.
With Bonds out of the game in 2008, the franchise turned to homegrown talent such as Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner to shift their fortunes. Those players were at the core of their run starting in 2010 that led to the 3 World Series rings in 5 years. Bochy was at the helm for all 3 until he retired from he game following the 2019 season.
That 2019 year also marked the arrival of Farhan Zaidi, who is now running the club as the president of baseball operations. To replace Bochy, he hired Gabe Kapler as the 39th manager of the team. Later in 2020, he hired Scott Harris away from the Cubs organization to act as General Manager. The current staff has the reputation for being extremely forward thinking, led by new age analytics.
Hall of Fame players who played for the San Francisco Giants include Willie Mays, Wille McCovey, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda. Mays and McCovey might be the two most beloved ex Giants. McCovey has an annual award named after him, the Willie Mac Award, that is voted on by the players and given to the most inspirational Giant. McCovey passed away in 2018.
In what may have been the 2 biggest trades the Giants have ever pulled off, the team sent popular 3rd basemen out of town. In 1987, budding young Chris Brown was sent to San Diego along with Mark Grant, Mark Davis and Keith Comstock. The Giants got Kevin Mitchell, Dave Dravecky and Craig Lefferts in return. Mitchell added to an already stacked lineup and helped the Giants to the 1987 NL West crown. He also won the MVP award in 1989, and led the Giants to the National League Pennant.
The other surprise 3rd baseman sendoff came in 1996, when fan favorite Matt Williams was sent to Cleveland along with Trent Hubbard for Jeff Kent, Julian Tavarez, Jose Vizcaino and Joe Roa. The Giants won the west the following year and Kent won the NL MVP in 2000.
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