Neukom out as Giants CEO

So there I was, trying to cheer myself after another A’s loss with a side trip to SF’s new high-tech grilled cheese joint The Melt, and I hear that Bill Neukom, he of the monopoly-defending ways (for both the Giants and Microsoft), has been ousted as CEO. “What the what?!?!” I thought.

Mark Purdy appears to have the best read on things. Whether Neukom was too profligate a spender or if his style rubbed the rest of the Giants executive committee the wrong way, it’s a shocking end to a tenure.

At this point it’s much too early to know how this is going to shake out for the A’s. Neukom may stay on in some capacity, and if it’s as some sort of legal counsel, there’s no reason to think the Giants will be even the slightest amount more flexible regarding territorial rights to Santa Clara County. Team President Larry Baer will take the reins, and he hasn’t exactly been friendly to the concept. In a similar manner, Texas Rangers managing partner Chuck Greenberg was deposed before the beginning of the season and subsequently replaced by Nolan Ryan.

Still, you have to think that with the brain-trust of the Giants so worried about spiraling payrolls despite consecutive sellout crowds and locked-in TV dominance, something has to give. Given Bud Selig’s generally laissez faire approach to managing owners and ownership groups, this has to be an internal struggle. Who knows, maybe T-rights is part of the discussion? I can’t see it being at the top of the priority list. Selig is probably watching closely to make sure that the Giants don’t turn into the Dodgers, and not much else.

45 thoughts on “Neukom out as Giants CEO

  1. Wow, who will take over as Managing Partner for the San Antoniofication of the Other Team now that Bowtie Bill is bounced? Probably Larry “Too Much to” Baer. Man, I’ll be honest: the last time Baer came in the CSN broadcast booth during the game to chat with Ray and Glen I was sincerely hoping Ray would Pete Rose him right against the back wall. Anyway this is quite the shocker even if it doesn’t have much affect on our situation.

  2. “there are known “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

  3. Was that Rumsfeld or Selig? 😉

  4. Funny. During the third inning of todays game I took a pictures of Stomper, post it on FB, and commented to get our team to SJ asap. Are the baseball gods listening? I know in the past Purdy, and I know believe Wolff as well, have insinuated that the other Giants share holders/owners were ambivilant to the whole T-Rights situation. Whatever the case may be, whoever takes the helm will have no seniority whatsoever in terms of ownership. Besides, this is all still up to Selig, MLB, not the Giants or their new owner.

  5. purdy was on with townsend just now and said he does believe neukom will indeed stay on and be part of the legal team for the org meaning he’ll be there when the debate comes up with the tr and his voice will be heard. purdy also hinted possibly mlb saying to sf that they’ll okay the move but they’d have to come off their hardline stance regarding the sj tr although even with neukom stepping down the guy who will be taking over in baer is just as arrogant with thought that sj is theirs.

    purdy also thinks sf is being selfish and it’d be best for baseball and the a’s themselves if they were to move down to sj and get that silicon valley money but sf wants none of that. even though they’ve said sj is a huge part of their money making operations, purdy points out that when you look at all their sponsor signage at at&t, there aren’t many sj companies being plastered all over the park. quite frankly he believes sf doesn’t want the a’s to thrive in anyway and ultimately want them out of the bay area as a whole and that they should just say it because all their feelings about the tr issues are because they want the entire landscape here locally to themselves because they don’t want competition here locally which the a’s would be if they moved down to sj.

  6. Either way you look at it, this is the A’s version of Gaddafi’s or Saddam Hussein’s downfall. There is hope!

  7. @letsgoas: I don’t think it’s ever been about purely the move down south for the Giants as regards the A’s. If this were, say, Chicago and the White Sox (for some crazy reason) wanted to move to Gary, Indiana, the Cubs would likely not care. For the Giants it’s always been about the reality that if the A’s move to SJ and get all this Silicon Vally sponsorship for themselves, the Athletics will within a mere few years build themselves into the overwhelming powerhouse franchise of the Bay Area and essentially wipe the Giants from their perch atop the market, perhaps forever. The Giants aren’t gonna BE Yankees West as long as they have that ballpark to pay off, and they fear that the A’s will shoot right past them and become just that if they are allowed to remove Baer’s foot from their throat and head south to Computer $ Land.

  8. ML, is there any way that Wolff, if he chose to, could still put a stadium in Fremont? If the Giants are going to play this game and the A’s aren’t allowed to move to San Jose, they need to force the Giants hand and rebuild that SVLG coalition without having to be in Downtown.

  9. Ding, dong the witch is dead and the yellow brick road to SJ is back on track! Duke Neukum forever….not!

  10. no doubt the a’s would be MUCH BETTER off both on and especially off the field if they moved down to sj and got into that south bay money. just in terms of sponsorship, what they could get from sj is a whole lot better than what they currently get in oakland. sf likes that the a’s have basically become irrelevant playing in oak and especially at the coliseum. nobody comes to games, tv/radio ratings are near the bottom in all of mlb, a good chunk of the a’s fanbase have become disinfranchised with no hope looking like it’s coming anytime soon unless they make the move down to sj.

    you really could’ve scripted a better way for one team to accend and the other team to decend. both with what sf and what oak ownership has done the past 15 years.

    i don’t know if the a’s would ever topple sf even if they moved to sj. sf is still the cache city here and even with all the money that the a’s would be getting, i still think they would be second fiddle in this area. heck even when the a’s were dominating in the late 80s-early 90s, sf still was the team getting the better ratings both on tv/radio. no doubt a move to sj would put the a’s somewhere close to sf at least off the field with the money coming in and that’s something the other side doesn’t want to have. actual COMPETITION in this area both on and especially off the field.

  11. But ML, how was the grilled cheese?

    In my experience, change at the top of an organization, especially if there’s an Interim or Acting in front of the title of the leader, usually means as little as possible will happen for several months, and nothing that would represent a change in direction. Of course, this could be the exception.

  12. Losing Neukom is a big blow to the Giants and their fans, even though he’ll still be around on the legal side probably, so the TR’s issue will remain the same, as Larry Baer is just as stubborn on this. I wish the A’s had a guy like Neukom, a true competitor, willing to spend money to win, unlike LW who spends more time complaining than anything else.

  13. Wow the Chron is reporting he’s being asked to sell his ownership stake in the team as well. If true I don’t see how the Giants “retain” him in any meaningful way. This may end up being great news for the soon to be San Jose A’s.

  14. To the San Jose crowd (almost everyone on this board):

    I believe that the real goal is to move the A’s out of the Bay Area – always has been.

    And I believe that San Jose has always been the primary goal of LW/JF.

    I am curious, though, why there is so much confidence/certainty of conviction that the A’s will move to San Jose?

    Do any of you have inside information?

    Marine Layer – in all seriousness – has LW told you directly what will happen? You’ve stated that you know LW reads this blog.

    I agree with JK USA that attendance in San Jose will be good first year, pretty good the second year and when the novelty wears off attendance even lower than in Oakland during the bad years of the A’s (the last five).

    I frankly don’t see much enthusiasm for the for the A’s among the general populace in San Jose.

    Well the plan for the A’s has worked – horrible attendance, fractured relationship with Oakland and the East Bay, fan disinterest and distrust.

    A’s observer

    • @A’s observer – If Wolff/Fisher’s goal was to leave the Bay Area they’ve could’ve saved a lot of trouble and money by announcing it as early as 2007. They had a short-term lease at the Coliseum and nothing else binding them to the area. Back then more cities were in a position to entertain such a move. Now it may be harder than building in the Bay Area. You don’t spend $30+ million in Fremont if your ulterior motive is to leave. That would be utterly insane. BTW – Wolff would never tell me on or off the record a out any secret plans. Loose lips sink ships.

  15. You seriously feel that a state-of-the-art baseball only facility will suffer the same fate as the multi-use, decrepit Coliseum, a facility you can’t even walk through when a game is sold-out? I think even more of a case could have been made 20+ years ago that the Sharks would be a novelty for a little while, considering that California is far from a hockey hotbed. And the place sells out whether they are winning or losing still.
    I agree that there isn’t a lot of South Bay enthusiasm for the A’s. But it’s not like the City of Oakland, their current home, is rolling out passion by the truckload either, or any other Bay Area city for that matter. Right now, the Bay Area is Giants country, plain and simple. And until the A’s are competing evenly (AKA, new ballpark anywhere), that ain’t changin’.

  16. re: agree with JK USA that attendance in San Jose will be good first year, pretty good the second year and when the novelty wears off attendance even lower than in Oakland during the bad years of the A’s (the last five).

    …you mean like the Sharks? Still selling out in San Jose two decades’ long and counting? FWIW, it wouldn’t take much for San Jose to exceed the already-poor attendance in Oakland. I went to the Labor Day game, midday – the usual acres and acres of empty seats…Yes, let’s keep the A’s where we already know the attendance is lousy – that’s a much safer option than go to a place that has shown fanatic support for even a second-tier major sport and already has a major naming rights sponsor lined up…

    • One other thing – the fact that Purdy, a columnist, and not a regular reporter, scooped this is enormous. He deserves tremendous credit for forcing the Giants to react to the story. It also highlights the difference between Purdy and some of the other guys in the Bay Area media who shall remain nameless. There’s something to his reach and willingness to work the story.

      San Jose may be a little more resilient in terms of fanbase simply because the casual fan interest should remain high due to novelty. People like to point out the Pittsburgh and Cleveland situations as analogous but forget the major difference: those cities had bad franchises for decades. San Jose is practically a newborn in this regard.

  17. agreed about attendance, i’ve read comparisons to that of pnc that the a’s could suffer the same fate where the attendance will good the first few years but will drop. i doubt the a’s will have 20 straight losing seasons like pit has had. sure the “novelty” will wear out but i doubt we’ll be ever seeing 5k-8k attendance figures we’ve seen on most weeknights for a’s games the past few years in any new park be it in sj or even oak.

    even if the attendance is on the lower end if the a’s are a losing org for a long duration, lets say somewhere in the 20+ k per game range, the new park will still bring in the corporate money that the coliseum doesn’t and companies will continue to buy the suites.

  18. “even if the attendance is on the lower end if the a’s are a losing org for a long duration, lets say somewhere in the 20+ k per game range, the new park will still bring in the corporate money that the coliseum doesn’t and companies will continue to buy the suites.”

    And they’ll have ballpark debt service to pay off, instead of the minimal rent they pay now.

    Anyone who thinks the payroll is going to go up considerably in a new ballpark in Oakland or SJ is mistaken.

  19. Hats off to Mr. Purdy. also credited the Merc for breaking the story, stating the Giants wanted to wait until after the season to break the news.
    One angle that Purdy mentioned re: San Jose is that whomever Selig, Wolff and the rest of MLB ownership confirm as the next Giants owner will have to address the T-Rights issue. Meaning “we’ll confirm you, but in the best interest of baseball, you’d better cooperate with the A’s move to San Jose.”

  20. In San Jose the A’s payroll would be 90M-110M as Jeffrey and I did some math a while back and we were both pretty close to each others calculations. The real # is about 100M or so.

    We based our math of the leaked MLB financials from Pittsburgh and the LA Angels. Even with debt service and a 90M-110M payroll the A’s would make a profit of 10M or so.

    The team would not be a money loser and in fact would be in the top half for payroll in the league and that # could go higher if the team wins.

    The Giants are at 118M right now and that is good for 8th in the league. The Minnesota Twins who were once dwellers in payroll are now 9th at 112M just cause of the new ballpark they can make $$ to keep players.

    The difference between Minny and the A’s is that the Giants are 12 miles away cannibalizing all the corporate sponsors therefore San Jose is the only place where a privately financed ballpark would work in theory.

    Oakland would be a money loser all day long and MLB knows it. Hence why they do not push for a privately financed ballpark there.

    The Giants will never let the A’s into San Jose and Selig knows it. Larry Baer is worse then his bow tie asshole predecessor when it comes to this.

    In the end “all options must be exhausted” before Selig does anything….This will drag on another year at least.

  21. Sid,
    Must I repeat this again..THIS ISN’T UP TO THE GIANTS! How many times must this be stated. MLB will make the final decision regarding the A’s to San Jose, not Baer. Why are you choosing to ignore this reality? Oh well, its your world. By the way, read my previous post: that’s how I think it will go down. Purdy seems to think so as well.

  22. Why do folks that prefer Oakland cling to the myth that attendance problems are out of the ordinary? The A’s have been in the bottom half of MLB attendance all but 7 years in Oakland. They have been in the playoffs 15 times. That is not good.
    I would be more concerned that a Pittsburgh situation would happen in Oakland than in San Jose. Because, it has already happened with every ownership group… That is a known quantity.
    I don’t think anyone can say with any certainty that it would be worse in San Jose, but no one can say with any certainty that it will be better either.
    So the question becomes do you go with what you know or do you take the risk of moving South? The answer, for the A’s ownership, appears to be that the known quantity is not enough to make the risk of a move significant. I am sure the larger premium ticket market (read as corporations) in the South Bay helps color that opinion.

  23. I don’t think MLB needs to confirm anyone. This is not going to be a new ownership group, it is a new CEO. The group, as far as I can see, would stay exactly the same. So there would be no need by the Giants and/or the new CEO to acquiesce anything regarding T-rights.

    • I don’t think MLB needs to confirm anyone.This is not going to be a new ownership group, it is a new CEO.The group, as far as I can see, would stay exactly the same.So there would be no need by the Giants and/or the new CEO to acquiesce anything regarding T-rights.

      False! MLB does indeed need to confirm the new Giants owner, be it Baer or anyone else from the current ownership group. Neukom was confirmed by MLB after Magowan and, unless he decides to continue with his childish games, Baer will be confirmed as well.

  24. …acquiesce on anything…

  25. @Tony- I am with you on wanting the team in San Jose. If the Giants did not control anything then the A’s would have been in San Jose years ago under Schott and Hoffman.

    They would still be the owners but Selig and the Giants shot them down hence why they sold the team knowing San Jose would never be a reality with them as owners.

    In the end it is obvious the Giants control the situation and the 900+ days tells you that.

    Buster Olney wrote in his Twitter that Neukom by accounts of some of the other owners is the single biggest road block to the A’s heading to San Jose.

    What does that tell you Tony? The Giants control the situation and Selig is too cowardly to do anything about it until “exhausts all options” which includes total relocation .

    In Selig’s eyes the A’s have to move anyways, whether that is San Jose or San Antonio its all the same to him. San Jose with the Giants in the way is too radical for Selig to force the issue.

    Selig is too “old school” and that is what is hurting the A’s and pushing them to the brink.

    You are right MLB can control this but its obvious they “do not want to”

  26. So Sid, you’ll believe Buster Olney (a baseball writer) but choose not to believe Lew Wolff himself (who actually belongs in the Lodge of MLB)? Wow! That says alot. Again, for the umpteenth time…THIS ISN’T UP TO THE GIANTS!! (next thing you’ll know you’re going to try to convince me that the world is flat, not round). Trust me, if Schott and Hoffman had a deal in Santa Clara to build a publicly financed ballpark near Great America (they weren’t proposing to privately finance ala Wolff), then the T-Rights would have fell over a decade ago. And Selig actually let Schott and Hoffman talk with Santa Clara! But you’ll probably choose to ignore that reality to. And why is it so “radical” to open up the A’s to SJ/SCCo. when it wasn’t “radical” to open up SJ/SCCo. to the Giants back in 1992? Look Sid, we’re obviously on the same boat in terms of the A’s in San Jose, but you’re uber wild speculations and clinging to non-reality is getting a little old brah. Again, shall I suggest…get a beer and relax, will yah!

  27. Baer made CEO but not managing partner, how does that affects things?

  28. Mike,
    I believe Baer could still be made managing partner, but that decision would rest with MLB approval. CEO, in this case, could be akin to interim-owner.

  29. I know he could but heard an announcement that he won’t be given that. Will be someone else. Was reported on KNBR so of course it could be they took one story and just assumed what it meant.

  30. Thanks Mike. Heard the managing partner might be someone else? Now that’s interesting.

  31. Tony what makes you think the new managing partner needs MLB approval? I don’t think that’s true if they’re part of the existing ownership group. It’s only if they’re being brought in from outside like Neukom was in 2003.

  32. Ah the Giants are saying now Neukom just wanted to retire, nothing to see here. Ah ok, surrreee.

  33. @ Dan,
    Its not a matter of thinking anything. MLB has to approve all ownership changes, plain and simple. Read the Purdy article, second to last paragraph; its stated there in plain english.

  34. This is all very dramatic and getting the Giants back in the media spotlight, but I really don’t think this will have any impact on the A’s. It would seem the Giants as a whole are going to stay staunch, in terms of T-rights. Whatever decision that gets made will still be up to MLB. Same as it ever was.

    • @all – Any major change in ownership, including the approval of a new managing partner, requires MLB sign-off. Normally it’s a rubber stamp job, but we’re dealing with unique circumstances here for both the Giants and A’s regarding competitiveness. There is potential for an opening for Wolff, though I won’t go so far as to say it’s a certainty. Let’s just say that if someone wanted to add a condition to ownership, just as Selig is trying to do with the Crane-Astros deal (whether it happens right away or not), the opening will be there.

      • @letsgoas – Rosenthal is wrong in this regard. There’s a decent chance that whomever the new managing partner is will have his/her approval conditional on negotiations at the very least.

  35. The Giants are just switching CEOs, not ownership, so Major League Baseball doesn’t have any leverage that would allow it to force the Giants to drop their objection to the A’s moving to San Jose, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (both Twitter links).


  36. in the end bs imo will probably want to pass this issue over to his predecessor once he retires after the 2012 season.

  37. @Tony- Your the one who needs the beer “brah”.

    You keep stating MLB controls this and your right but they are too cowardly to do the right thing.

    Not to mention Selig ignores the Mayor and SVLG. He turned down San Jose twice for ballot votes and offered to pay for it this past year and what happened? Not a damn thing!

    Cannot you not see there is a “big picture” here going on outside the Bay Area and good old “Lewie” knows this hence his unreal patience.

    “Lewie” knows full well behind closed doors “Buddy” is going to hook him up with the Dodgers or San Jose. But Selig is taking his sweet time because he is a coward.

    If “Lewie” were any other rich powerful owner he would tell Selig to “shove it” and force San Jose to sue in Anti-Trust court and get what he wants. The mere threat is more than enough to make Selig move on it. But “Lewie” refuses to do that.

    If I was him I would too….relax, wait, and in all scenarios he wins 100%.

    I love your “optimism” but you place your faith in the wrong man…Bud Selig.

    These are all “facts” Tony that you seem to ignore time and time again. That plus the 900+ days this has taken. It is obvious unless the Giants cut a deal the A’s are long gone.

  38. @ Sid,
    You obviously took my advice to far and consumed to many cold ones before that long post of yours. WOW! Yet another colorful opinion, which you are more than entitled to Sid.

  39. @Sid/Tony D. – Enough of that crap. Read the new post and commence discussion there.

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