Good guy, smart writer, and Internet gadfly David Schoenfield kicked over a hornet's nest of online Giants fans with an article titled, "Welcome to the worst World Series ever." In this piece, he had the audacity to question the talent of a team that made the playoffs through a loophole that didn't exist three years ago. ESPN uses Facebook-tethered comments, which are always just the best, and boy, did the angry Internet Giants fans give him the business.
This is because getting respect from each and every corner of the universe, down to President Obama randomly pledging fealty to the Giants in the middle of a State of the Union address, is more important to some people than, you know, enjoying this ridiculous postseason. So here are a couple of truisms:
1. We don't know which is the best team in baseball, and we never will
What this would require: a 100,000-game season with vampire players who never got hurt or tired. The Giants finished with 88 wins, but they're ... lemme check ... 8-2 since then. They were the best team in baseball until they weren't, after which they were the best team in baseball again for the two weeks they needed to be. I don't know if this team would finish in first place in the NL West after a 100,000-game season with regenerating vampire players. I have a guess. But I don't know.
As is, it's a long season, but not long enough for certainties. Maybe around the 300th game, the Giants would rip off a 10-game winning streak and storm into first. Maybe around the 190th, they'd fall 10 games back of the second wild card. Yet there are people who act as if the baseball gods descended from the heavens in chariots made of fire and horsehide after the 162nd game to place wreaths of rosin on the heads of every player on playoff teams.
Baseball God: These are the true champions, by our decree. They have proven in 162 games what could not be proven in 161! They are the BEST TEAMS IN BASEBALL. Now they must have a tournament for our amusement.
Baseball God: /winks at Travis Ishikawa
Baseball God: /throws hotel key at Travis Ishikawa
Travis Ishikawa: I am incredibly uncomfortable right now.
We don't know if the 2003 Giants were the best team in baseball. We don't know if the 2012 Giants were the best team in baseball. We'll never know. There's a maximum of 182 games in a year. That's too few to make grand, definitive proclamations about any team.
2. I'm pretty sure the Giants aren't the best team in baseball
As in, if there were a 100,000-game simulation, with the highest winning percentage winning the championship, my money wouldn't be on the Giants as currently constructed. Angel Pagan's out. Matt Cain's out. Ryan Vogelsong might be one of the sketchiest starting pitchers on any postseason roster. The bullpen is leaking oil. Travis Ishikawa is literally starting in left field. It's a good team with a lot of talent, don't get me wrong. But the best? Empirically, the best? I can't go that far. They might be better than the Cardinals (or Royals), but I'm almost certain that the Nationals are a better collection of 25 players.
Which means very little in the postseason, apparently. Looking at the postseason as some sort of validation of "the best team" is silly. We'll never know. What does "best team" even mean? The most talent? The best record over an arbitrary stretch of games? Whatever the parameters, though, I'm pretty sure the 2014 Giants aren't the answer.
3. Embrace it, don't fight it
Embrace it. Embraaaaaaace it. The Giants are trolling so danged hard right now. They won an 18-inning game after an umpire gave Joe Panik a walk on balls (read: not strikes) he had been calling strikes all day. They got out of a rally in Game 5 of the NLCS when Pablo Sandoval deflected a ball right to Brandon Crawford. They won the 2012 World Series in part because Scott Rolen made an error.
That's how every postseason series is won by every team. Every pennant winner gets breaks and makes their own breaks and plays well enough to make up for the instances where they play poorly. It's pretty rare to see a team like the 1975 Reds, a steamroller of a team that cartoonishly flattened every other team in their path. Even then, if you played the '75 postseason over and over again, that Reds team would eventually lose. They'd eventually get swept. The postseason is about what happened, not what should have happened.
The Giants probably aren't the best team in the National League. They're the best team in the National League currently in the World Series, though. That's all I care about. That, and them being the best team in baseball over the next four games, outscoring their opponent, 40-0. Everything else is a pile of semantics I can't imagine worrying about.