Two months ago today the San Francisco Giants won the 2010 World Series and were crowned as champions. For 2011 they will find themselves in a new role--that of defending champions. How have the World Series Champions fared in that task this past decade? Let's take a look:
2001: The three-time (1998, 1999, 2000) defending champion New York Yankees lost in the World Series to Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It should be noted that the Yanks had the lead in the 9th inning of the 7th game with Mariano Rivera on the mound and yet the Bob Brenly-led Snakes won.
2002: The defending champion Diamondbacks won the NL West but lost in the LDS . The Anaheim Angels won--it had something to do with a blown lead, too.
2003: The defending champion Angels finished 77-85, 19 back of Oakland. Josh Beckett and the Florida Marlins beat the Yankees in the Series.
2004: The defending champion Marlins finished 83-79, 13 back of Atlanta. The Boston Red Sox ended their long drought by sweeping the Cardinals in the Series. It was a great moment for Sahx fans and was made particularly sweet by beating the Yanks in the ALCS after being down three games to none. I mention only because my mom was born and raised in Boston and saw Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and Vincent and Dominic DiMaggio play at Fenway Park. She taught me how to be a fan. My earliest baseball memories are the 1967 "Impossible Dream" AL-pennant winners with Carl Yazstremski, Rico Petrocelli, and Jim Lonborg, as well as following the Giants with Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, and Bill Thompson on KSFO-560 AM radio. Thanks, mom. Happy New Year!
2005: The defending champion Red Sox lost in the LDS to the eventual champion Chicago White Sox, another team with a monkey-on-the-back legacy. President Barack Obama is a fan of the South-siders. The White Sox swept the Astros in the Series. Each of their four starters (Jose Contreras, Mark Buerhle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garica) went at least 7 innings and gave up 4 or fewer runs per start (9 total in 28-1/3 IP). They beat a club with a rotation of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt!
2006: The defending champion White Sox finished 90-72, 6 back of Minnesota. The 83-78 St. Louis Cardinals avenged 1968 and beat the Tigers 4-1 in the Series.
2007: The defending champion Cardinals finished 78-84, 7 back of Chicago. The Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in the Series.
2008: The defending champion Red Sox lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the LCS. The Philadelphia Phillies rode Cole Hamels' arm to a 4-2 Series win over the AL upstarts.
2009: The defending champion Phillies lost in the World Series to the New York Yankees despite getting two wins from Cliff Lee.
2010: The defending champion Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, thumping the Rangers 4-1!
The aughts were a tough decade for defending champs. Many of the clubs returned to the post-season but none of them could hang on to the Commissioner's Trophy. The Giants have a formidable task. Recent history is not on their side. What will it take for the Giants to defend their title in 2011?