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2012 World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval led the Giants to their second championship in the last three seasons.
The rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants is one of the longest-running and most competitive in all of professional sports. By winning two of the last three World Series titles, however, the Giants are threatening to establish themselves as the clearly superior franchise.
By adding Zack Greinke to an already stacked roster, the Dodgers are hoping to close the gap before it gets any wider.
Before the 2012 season, the two franchises were tied at six championships apiece, dating back to their respective roots in New York City. San Francisco’s 2012 World Series victory put it one ahead of the Dodgers and also marked its second championship since the two teams moved to California after the 1957 season.
The Giants have now won two championships (2010 and 2012) since the Dodgers won their last title in 1988.San Francisco has also made two other trips to the World Series since L.A.'s last appearance.
They were swept by the Oakland A's in the 1989 "Bay Bridge Series", which was memorable because of an earthquake that delayed the series for ten days. The Giants blew a 3-2 series lead against the Angels in 2002, costing Barry Bonds his best shot at a championship.
All told, San Francisco has made four World Series appearances in the past 23 years while the Dodgers remain stuck in a 24-year drought.
Since escaping the circus-like atmosphere that dominated the Barry Bonds era (1993-2007), San Francisco has created a sustainable blueprint that will lead to long-term success.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean has done a masterful job of building a roster—mostly through excellent drafting and first-rate player development—providing manager Bruce Bochy with a roster full of players who suit his formula for winning. That formula consists of good defense, excellent pitching and timely hitting.
The Dodgers would like to return to using sound player development to put a consistently good product on the field. That used to be one of the organization’s strong suits and is responsible for producing home-grown talent like Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
Unfortunately, the results of good scouting and excellent player development don’t show up on the major league level for years. Los Angeles does not have that kind of time.
The organization is working hard to replenish a minor league system and international scouting department that were severely neglected during the six-year McCourt regime. In the meantime, the Dodgers must rely on their considerable financial resources—derived largely from a television broadcasting rights deal with Fox that has yet to be finalized—to make trades and bring in free agents who can help L.A. win now.
Greinke is the latest example of the Dodgers going for it all, but his contract is consistent with their long-term strategy for winning.
He won’t turn 35 until after the sixth year of his new deal, so Los Angeles will likely avoid wasting millions of dollars on an ineffective player at the end of Greinke’s contract. That’s the kind of thinking that has allowed the Giants to prosper, and the Dodgers have apparently taken notice.