For those of you new to the agonizing history of the San Francisco Giants, you might be wondering what that means. Let me take you back to the famous 1993 pennant race.
The Barry Bonds era began auspiciously as Bonds put up the numbers for the third MVP of his career: 46 homers, 129 runs and 123 RBI, (.336 BA, .458 OBP, .677 SLG, for a total of 1.135 OPS), all career highs. Matt Williams was solid again (38 HR, 110 RBI, .294 BA), with Robby Thompson and Will Clark (in his last season with the Giants) providing offensive support. John Burkett and Bill Swift both had 20+ wins, and closer Rod Beck was dominant with 48 saves and a 2.16 ERA. All this led the Giants to a 103–59 record in Dusty Baker's first year as manager, which earned him the Manager of the Year award.
But despite the Giants' great record, the Atlanta Braves — fueled by solid seasons from David Justice, Ron Gant, Deion Sanders and their midseason acquisition of Fred McGriff from the San Diego Padres — came back from a ten-game deficit to the Giants to win the NL West by a single game. The Braves also had 20+ wins from both Tom Glavine and Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux.
Desperately needing a win against the Dodgers in the final game of the year to force a one-game playoff with the Braves, the controversial choice of Giants rookie pitcher Salomon Torres proved disastrous as he gave up three runs in the first four innings and the Giants went on to lose the game 12–1. After MLB's establishment of the three-division–Wild Card playoff format following the 1993 season, New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson captured the feeling of many baseball purists regarding the thrilling (and for Giants fans, heartbreaking) winner-take-all outcome as the "last pure pennant race."
This time the Giants finished the season 92-70. But they did win their National League West pennant race against the San Diego Padres. Then they took three out of four from (hey, what do you know) the wild-card Atlanta Braves, four out of six from the Philadelphia Phillies, and four out of five from the Texas Rangers.
Final record? 103-74. Not quite as good as 103-59. But I think all Giants fans will take this. This title is as much for 1993 as anything else.