Ratto: Overreaching prompted Neukom's ouster

Ratto: Overreaching prompted Neukom's ouster
September 15, 2011, 12:15 am
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Sept. 14, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

The beauty of most ownership coups is that you rarely see them until theyre done.Well, OK, theres the McCourts.But Bill Neukom's ouster as the Giants managing general bow tie came as a bolt from the gray. As broken by the San Jose Mercury News, it plays as one guy taking control because he thought hed been given control.It is also, however, a flip of the Peter Magowan coin, in that, if the Mercury report is as portrayed (and so far, nobody has countered it), Neukom assumed that being the managing general partner meant being the same thing as being the only general partner. You know, in the way that Al Davis is the Raiders managing general partner.

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In fact, Neukoms failure came in forgetting that having barely a fifth of the stock means that others have the other four-fifths, and if they get together, you come apart.Neukom apparently spent a chunk on the Giants World Series windfall in opposition to a majority of the other partners, who apparently wanted more tucked into an account to be used during the inevitable leaner times. Neukom didnt spend it on himself, but he didnt spend it with the partners agreement, and therein lies the chafe.There is no telling who organized the opposition, though it is hard to see how this happened without the agreement of Tori Burns and Trina Dean, the heirs to the Harmon and Sue Burns shares, as their one-third of the business had to be among the alienated portion by virtue of the math alone.Interestingly, it was Sue Burns -- whose dissatisfaction with Magowan put Neukom in charge three years ago, largely for the same reason -- who convinced others that Magowan had exceeded his allies in reach and dominance.Larry Baer, who came in as part of the original group that bought the Giants from Bob Lurie in 1992, is in charge for the moment, but there is no telling how permanent that situation will be, as he has even less financial skin in the game.In short, the cash cow has just kicked over its bucket, and the mad dash to clean the spill and replace the container will be months in the settling. It surely puts general manager Brian Sabean and the baseball operations people in a new squeeze, as they were largely Neukoms beneficiaries, but Sabean has always been a loyal company man, and if the company is different, he will adjust.If he is allowed to do so, and if he knows to whom he is adjusting.

More to come as this story grinds on. Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.