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Giants never seem to lose their cool

Continuity, beautiful ballpark help the Giants churn out winners.

SAN FRANCISCO — Boston bills Fenway Park as the "most beloved ballpark in baseball" while the Cubs marketed Wrigley Field this year as the "party of the century."

But if you're looking for a ballpark that actually helps its team win championships, AT&T Park may be the best in the business.

The Giants' picturesque ballpark will be front and center again this weekend as the World Series returns to the city by the bay for the third time in five years. With the Series tied at one game apiece, Tim Hudson faces the Royals' Jeremy Guthrie on Friday in a pivotal Game 3 that figures to be even more intense after the Game 2 shenanigans involving Giants reliever Hunter Strickland and Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

We don't know yet whether the Giants will wind up as the best team in 2014, but there's little doubt they are the best run organization. They have sold out every home game since Oct. 1, 2010, creating a culture of cool that most franchises can only dream of.

What have the Giants been able to do to maintain that success on the field and at the box office?

They have picked good baseball people to run that side of the organization, and smart business executives who know how to stay in their lane and leave the baseball side alone.

"There's a culture of truly figuring it out, up and down the organization, in business (department) and baseball (operations)," chief executive officer Larry Baer said. "If you have that culture, and people that are pretty experienced …

"We have the active wins leader for manager in (Bruce Bochy). We have the senior general manager in the game in Brian (Sabean), and we have continuity here. We've only had two GMs and three field managers in 22 years. And with that, there's a will and a passion to figure it out, and we have the aptitude to do it, too."

The sellouts afford the Giants the financial flexibility to spend money, though they don't go overboard on free agents. They began the season with a $154 million payroll, seventh in baseball, but tend to rewards their own players, like Buster Posey, Matt Cain and Hunter Pence, instead of trying to out-bid the Yankees every winter.

Perhaps because they only go to the World Series every other year, few consider the Giants dynasty material. But they have won 16 of their last 19 postseason games, and could become only the second National League team to win three titles in five years, after the Cardinals of 1942, '44 and '46.

Asked the other day if the Giants get the proper amount of respect, Bochy replied: "I think so. I don't know. I don't look around to see or ask if we're getting respected. I mean, this team and the club have had a lot of success. I have to think the way they play the game, they're very humble guys, that hopefully they're getting the respect they should."

This year's wild-card team wasn't expected to do anything in the postseason after stumbling to the finish line with a poor second half. But the Giants managed to overcome adversity and get back to the Series again.

"We had some high highs and some low lows," Baer said. "In late June or July, we were flat-lining. You would go into Bochy's office after a game, and Sabean is in there with (assistant GMs) Dick Tidrow and Bobby Evans, and once in a while I'll come in. And they go through the game — not in an accusatory way, but in a collaborative way, figuring out, 'What roster moves do we have to make? What's happening here?'

"There will be games where we're here till two or three in the morning grinding it out. Just like the players, these guys grind, setting the tone. It's pretty intense."

Baer said the Giants always put money aside for midseason acquisitions at the beginning of the year and also "put some brain power aside to see how we are going to adjust." In 2010 they added Cody Ross and Pat Burrell to help win it all. In 2012 they acquired Pence and Marco Scutaro. And this year they got Jake Peavy to step into the rotation to replace the injured Cain.

The Giants' owners know the support always will be there, even if the team is indeed flat-lining on the field in what's referred locally to as the annual "June Swoon."

"That creates a sense of urgency too," Baer said of the sellouts. "They don't want to disappoint 40,000 fans. In June and July, there was very little booing. Maybe some, but very little."

AT&T Park will be rocking again this weekend, the kayakers will be patrolling the waters of McCovey Cove, and the blimp will provide an Instagram-ready view of it all.

Win or lose, the culture of cool continues in San Francisco.

psullivan@tribune.com

Twitter @PWSullivan

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