Sad but true: The Giants are awful at sustaining success. In their 56 years in San Francisco, the Giants have almost always been awful at sustaining success.

What's a reasonable definition of sustained success? Consecutive World Series championships. Too tough a standard? OK, how about consecutive World Series appearances? Still too tough a standard? How about consecutive postseason appearances?

If that's still too tough a standard, you need to raise your standards. Seriously.

Whichever of those three definitions you prefer, on the other side of the bay the Athletics, in their 46 years in Oakland after arriving from Kansas City in 1968, have an enviable record of sustaining success, in fact have it all over the Giants in the various sustained-success categories.

There is no boastfulness or meanness in that statement. No agenda. And certainly no partisanship.

Just the facts.

The Giants will not be playing in the postseason in 2013. Not exactly breaking news, but the point is that despite two World Series titles in a three-year span and the many undeniably celebrated seasons the team has had over the decades since arriving from New York in 1958, and despite the wildly popular stars who have played for the Giants, the team has never won consecutive World Series, has never appeared in consecutive World Series and has made consecutive postseason appearances only once, briefly, in 2002 and '03.

In the closing weeks of baseball's regular season, almost anything can happen, but the Giants will have to play their tails off to finish with more wins than defeats while the A's seem to be in good shape to make their second consecutive postseason appearance. If that happens, it will mark four decades in which they have demonstrated at least one of the kinds of sustained success we're talking about.

In the 1970s, the A's were in the postseason five consecutive seasons (1971-75). Their winning three World Series in a row (1972-74) is still the high-water mark for Bay Area professional sports teams. Not even the 49ers, with their five Super Bowl titles, ever won more than two in a row, nor have they played in more than two in a row.

By the way, this is the 40th anniversary of the second of those three straight A's World Series titles, and for those of us who appreciate baseball history and admittedly are suckers for nostalgia, it's a shame there hasn't been much more in the way of retrospective appreciation this season.

Those 1973 A's might have been the best of Oakland's championship teams of the '70s. Talk about stellar starting pitching. Catfish Hunter (21-5), Ken Holtzman (21-13) and Vida Blue (20-9) were 20-game winners, with Hunter's 3.34 earned-run average the worst of the bunch.

Reliever extraordinaire Rollie Fingers had a modest 22 saves but had a 1.92 ERA while pitching 126 innings in 62 games. Oh, yeah. His seven wins ranked fourth on the team. Manager Dick Williams didn't worry much about straitjacketing his bullpen into exclusive roles, which is why 19 additional saves were spread among three other pitchers — Darold Knowles, Horacio Pi? and Paul Lindblad.

Reggie Jackson (32), Sal Bando (29) and Gene Tenace (24) provided home-run power while Billy North (53), Bert Campaneris (34) and Jackson (22) demoralized opponents with stolen-base prowess. And long before "Moneyball" and sabermetrics emphasized the value of on-base percentage, the A's of 40 years ago had four players (North, Jackson, Tenace and Bando) at .375 or higher.

And the A's of 1973 had a flair for dramatics in the postseason. They lost Game 4 of the best-of-five league championship series to the Baltimore Orioles after blowing a 4-0 lead, then got a five-hit shutout from Hunter to win the deciding game.

In the World Series that season, the A's were down three games to two to the New York Mets, then won Game 6 and Game 7 at the Oakland Coliseum, back when it was a fairly nice ballpark, before Mount Davis turned it into a monstrosity.

To continue with a brief history of the A's ability to sustain success, they were in three consecutive World Series again from 1988-1990, winning in '89 with a sweep of the Giants.

Oakland also had a run of four consecutive postseason appearances in 2000-03.

Make no mistake about it, the Giants' San Francisco history is thick with legendary players and vividly memorable games and seasons. Sustained success, though, has been elusive.

The Athletics' history of sustained success in Oakland is prolific and enduring.

And now they're close to adding to it.

(Robert Rubino can be reached at RobertoRubino@comcast.net)