The Giants made it official in a late-morning news conference today. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately department, Bill Neukom, the Giants' managing general partner who presided over the team's first World Championship since the New York days of 1954, is retiring. While Neukom eschewed even the hint of any Carol Bartz-like post-employment resentment, the Mercury News' report that he was forced out by the other partners hung over today's announcement by Neukom and Larry Baer, who will take over the lead management role.
Neukom started out graciously and remained that way throughout the event. "There's a time to come to an organization and there's a time to leave," he said in his opening remarks. And he just wouldn't bite when asked, repeatedly, to divulge details of the reported conflict with the partners. The first question from the media: Were you forced out? His answer:
I don't think that's the right characterization...I came to the conclusion this was the right time to turn the reigns over. It's just an evolutionary process. I didn't have any fixed term in mind when I pushed other things aside..It seems to me it's come pretty much full cycle. I had accomplished what I set out to accomplish when I was asked to step in.
But here's some of what Mark Purdy reported in the Merc, which broke the story yesterday:
It wasn't necessarily that Neukom authorized his baseball people to spend $22 million on a new contract for first baseman Aubrey Huff, or decided to add millions of dollars more to the payroll by trading for New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran in July. It was that the Executive Committee believed Neukom, as part of his fiduciary duties, should have consulted with them about his major decisions. Instead, the Executive Committee members were infuriated when they sometimes learned of Neukom's decisions through news reports.
Baer, for his part, said it would be business-as-usual in terms of the team's operations. Asked if he would now have to get sign-off from other owners on big moves, Baer said nothing would change, essentially, in the way the Giants have conducted operations.
The Giants have 32 main partners, including a 10-person executive committee.
Neukom will remain connected to the team at least through next year as chairman emeritus.
Here's a little round-up of what they're saying around the web, put together by Nina Thorsen:
"….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."
"The griping about the increased payroll seems like it's stingy misers being stingy with the profits they made from the World Series, but it could also be a bunch of people looking at a combined $50 million going to players who were awful this year and thinking, man, this money is being wiped and flushed."
"Despite the disappointment of the past month and a half, Neukom's Giants Way has been working….. The team's a smart move or two away, plus better injury luck, from being next year's division favorite. Do the rest of the owners, now with Larry Baer installed in Neukom's seat, really want to mess with that?"
- Peering into the Giants' Post-Bowtie era (Ray Ratto, CSN Bay Area)