Ratto: Peering into the Giants' Post-Bowtie era

September 15, 2011, 6:42 pm
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Sept. 15, 2011

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CSNBayArea.comWere only a few hours into the Post-Bowtie era of Giantsbaseball, so anyone who thinks he or she knows what the future will look likeis a certifiable know-it-all, gasbag and idiot.So heres what the future will look like:
In the vaguely-defined immediate term, not much different. The new world orderhasnt even been settled upon, and until that happens, the old world order isstill in play.Indeed, Billy Neukoms tenure of four years is among the briefest in baseballhistory for operational control of a team, except inheritances, but the WorldSeries of 2010 casts significant throw-weight. One, it helps inure most of theimportant figures from immediate dismissal, while also being the largest causeof Neukoms forced exit.The Giants, you may know, have been raking massive piles of cash through salesof everything down to spent sunflower-seed shells expelled from Buster Poseysmouth. But Neukom, who came into the big chair because Peter Magowan forgot howto keep the rest of the owners acknowledged, consulted and mollified, amazinglymade the same mistake.And both times, the linchpin for that dissatisfaction came from the HarmonBurns family.Burns was the silent partner with the most money in the game, and he didntmind Magowan running the shop alone. His wife Sue, who took over his 35 percentof the club (give or take a receipt) upon his death, did want to be consultedmore, and had the most shares to make change happen.Enter Neukom.Now, because the math is roughly the same, the Burns daughters, TrinaDean and Tori Burns, had to be among those disaffected by Neukoms style. Afterall, if they approved of his operational skill and control, their third and his20-some-odd percent made more than a majority. And unless the sisters have hada split, that math holds now.In short, nothing this momentous could have happened without their approval, ifnot instigation. There is no other big-piece investor to force his or her will.And for those of you who want to see in Larry Baer, the man who would win everySurvivor series without even taking off his coat, aSvengali-esqueMachiavellian mastermind, stop. He can be persuasive, but asthey say in baseball, money talks and -------- walks. Baer could not haveorchestrated this, and his place at the top of the food chain is eithertemporary, cosmetic, or both.The safest and most logical guess, in fact, is that either a big new investoris coming who wants Neukoms operational control (for which there is noevidence), or Burns and Dean are desirous of taking a more active role. Towardthat end, Trinas husband Rob Dean has long been believed to have taken aninterest in the business.Nothing along that line is imminent, though, unless this ownership moves a lotfaster than it ever has before. Neukom was moved out because he overstepped hispercentage of the stock, and the smart play is for the replacement orreplacements to remember that lesson as well.As to the baseball side, thats an open question as well. The Series stillweighs heavily on everyones judgments, and even the largest complaints, thecontracts of Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand, are sunk costs from two owners ago,and not the responsibility of Brian Sabeans wing of the building.Of course, Sabean is also a convenient and often misplaced target for fandisaffection, so if tickets suddenly become more plentiful on the market nextyear . . . well, who knows?That ultimately is the point. The volatility of the moment prevents anyone Baer, the Burnses, Emmanuel Burriss from declaring him- or herself the newemperor. That will play out in a transition far less linear and far moreconvoluted than the one which elevated Neukom in 2008.
And that will be the new Giants Way until further notice.

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