I'm assuming the conversation went something like this:
Sabean: Uh. Okay. There really isn’t that much out there, though.
Magowan: What about Barry Zito?
Sabean: Ha. Yeah, right. He’ll cost about $50M more than he’s worth.
Magowan: He is a popular player around the Bay Area, is he not?
Sabean: Sure, but…
Magowan: I must have him. He shall be the new ‘face of the franchise.’ Do whatever it takes.
Sabean: Really? I mean, he’s a good pitcher, but…
Magowan: Whatever it takes. ‘Face of the franchise.’
Sabean: Okay. Sure. If you’ll let me, I don’t mind having the guy lead the rotation if you don’t mind paying him.
Magowan: Face of the franchise. It’s the way of the future. Face of the franchise. Way of the future.
steps over jars of urine
Magowan: Face of the franchise. Way of the future. Face of the franchise. Way of the future.
Eh. Maybe not. Maybe for years I’ve just wanted to smear someone – anyone – with an Aviator/Howard Hughes-reference. The larger point stands: A lot of folks think that signing Barry Zito for $LOL over 100 years was an ownership-inspired decision. Maybe that’s revisionist history, but everyone will agree that the managing partner of the Giants has a lot to do with day-to-day operations.
So when Bill Neukom speaks, it might be worth it to listen. You can get the distilled essence of Neukom’s press conference here, or you can get the raw, uncut, collector’s edition of the conference here.
- He referenced the importance of scouting and the amateur draft. Actually, he wouldn’t stop talking about it. That seems like a no-brainer for a baseball person to reference, but it’s a more than a little reassuring to hear it straight from the source. If Neukom just gave vague references to "building competitive teams", I’d be worried about another patch-‘n’-go method of signing free agents.
- He didn’t dismiss statistical analysis. In fact, he suggested that the correct approach is a "blend" of stats and scouts, which is 100% right. Maybe it’s lip service, and the San Francisco Giants’ statistical analysis department should start planning upgrades to their Commodore 64 just yet, but lip service is a start.
- Outright dismissal of the "move in the fences"-nonsense.
- Neukom apparently has some sort of dossier on "The Giants Way." It kind of sounds like what would be produced if Joe Morgan rewrote Animal Farm. Hustle. Conditioning. Strategy. Two strikes bad, four balls good. Bunt, bunt, bunt.
- He didn’t roll his eyes whenever Brian Sabean’s name came up, nor did he make petty, condescending remarks toward Sabean that hinted at an immediate firing. Not that I was expecting that…but it would have been pretty funny. Comforting, too.
Randy Johnson. And it’s just going to get worse with age.
Any opinion formed after a single press conference is probably worthless, but Neukom said some interesting things. The only thing I could think of as a response, though, was Leslie Nielsen in Airplane: Good luck, and we’re all counting on you.
…and it looks like I picked the wrong offseason to quit sniffing glue.