Post-Neukom Era a Great Unknown for Giants

Shake-up may signal a power grab with wide-ranging effects or it could be "business as usual."

First, Peter Magowan. And now, three years later, Bill Neukom.

The San Francisco Giants ownership group sure has an itchy trigger finger when it comes to deposing its managing general partners.

And now, after the latest coup within the team’s executive committee, the principal investors that will remain seem determined to further consolidate their power.

When Neukom, reportedly shown the door because of a lack of communication about some financial decisions, retires on Dec. 31, the Giants appear set to significantly alter their business model. For the first time since the Magowan-led ownership group bought the team in 1992, the Giants will not have a managing general partner.

Larry Baer will have an enhanced role in the day-to-day operations as he steps in as the CEO, but the team will suddenly be without the one lead investor who acts as the face and voice of the ownership group.

Is this a footnote, a shift that will have no noticeable impact on how the business runs? Perhaps.

But after Magowan and Neukom apparently fell into disfavor because of making too many unilateral moves, it’s clear the executive committee is intent on making its presence known in business decisions. How that affects the organization remains to be seen.

Maybe Baer’s responsibilities will closely mirror those that Magowan and Neukom held, and he’ll simply keep the principal investors more in tune with the decision-making process.

But it’s also a real possibility that the Neukom ouster is a power grab, with a few principal owners determined to assume much more control. If that’s the case, the big-picture decisions would suddenly be in the hands of an unknown entity, perhaps even one with little to no baseball acumen.

Regardless, the executive committee has loudly announced it wants to pursue a different tack. Business is booming less than 11 months after the Giants won the World Series, yet Neukom is being forced out. Why? Whatever the particulars, it always comes down to money. Neukom’s fiscal maneuvering was enough at odds with the executive committee that it precipitated his stunning removal.

Magowan brought the Giants Barry Bonds and AT&T Park. Neukom steered the organization to the only World Series championship in its San Francisco history. Yet ultimately, neither managing general partner adequately imparted the vision of the executive committee.

Just what the ownership group wants to change is the great unknown. Improved communication and greater deliberation about the club’s affairs is one thing. Restructuring the expenditures would be quite another.

Baer assured on Thursday that it will be “business as usual” for the Giants. Only time will tell.


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