Ann Killion on Bay Area Sports

Billy Beane’s mean-spirited belittling of Art Howe’s fully understandable reaction to “Moneyball” accomplished two things this week.

When Beane told the Contra Costa Times “I was wondering who was going to be the first guy to think I produced, wrote or directed this movie. Now I have my answer. (Howe’s) comments are completely misguided,” he:

a) sounded suspiciously like a guy who didn’t mind in the least that Howe was portrayed as such a jack-wagon.

And he b) missed the point.  When you’ve been played by Brad Pitt – when most of the American public is going to believe that dazzling cinematic version of both you and of 2002 green-and-gold events – then you’ve won.  You can afford to be gracious.

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29 Sep 2011

War of Words: Howe vs. Beane

Author: AnnKillion | Filed under: Bay Area Sports

I recently wrote a profile of Giants owner Bill Neukom for Stanford Magazine. Having covered the team for 20+ years and followed the Giants my entire life, I was interested in digging a little bit deeper into Neukom’s role in bringing San Francisco what it had long coveted: a World Series championship. Was he simply in the right place at the right time, or did he create a change that allowed the World Series to be won?

A Giant Leap

He shepherded Microsoft through its stormiest period and helped bring a World Series title to San Francisco. In both cases, says Bill Neukom, it was all about the team.


9 Jul 2011

Bill Neukom: the man who delivered the World Series

Author: AnnKillion | Filed under: Bay Area Sports

Just back from the desert. I hadn’t been to spring training for a few years – not since Barry Bonds was the primary reason for going, back in the days when he used his son as a prop at a Scottsdale Stadium picnic table. My former employers didn’t and don’t make spring training a priority – even though it’s the best time to take the pulse of a team in a casual atmosphere and get a lot of work done.

So it was nice to be back. I’ve been to Phoenix for other reasons – namely football – during my spring training absence. But I’m always surprised at how much the area changes with every visit: more than any other American city. Sprawl and grid and identical strip malls as far as the eye can see. The area is still beautiful at dusk, brick-red rocks against purple sky, and early in the mornin. But, in between, it’s a grating symbol of thoughtless development, water waste and mind-numbing monotony.

The crowds this year were insane. It might be because the Giants won the World Series, it might be because of spring break, it might be because of harsh winters in the Midwest.    Whatever the reason – it was wall-to-wall people last weekend. And the crowds in Scottsdale at night were the same – highly inebriated, sunburned and loud. I saw one barefoot 40ish woman stumble out of the Pink Pony, punch her male companion in the face several times, scream at him and then run away down an alley.  She wasn’t the only one who was overserved – people kept wanting to buy Ray Ratto drinks and take his picture!  Scottsdale is one big, loud – often sloppy – party – you can see why the teams want their players to report at 7:30 or 8 a.m. most mornings.  They need incentive to get to bed early.

The baseball part was enjoyable.  The A’s are making news. Billy Beane has rebuilt them, and the talent will put manager Bob Geren to the test. Beane has also gone to lengths to make sure the A’s stay healthy. And Hideki Matsui’s presence brings a bigtime star quality.

Over at the Giants, things are relatively peaceful for a reigning World Champion.  I enjoyed my conversations with Madison Bumgarner, Miguel Tejada, Aubrey Huff and others. Brian Wilson was advertised as not being able to answer a question seriously, but I found him insightful. And Tim Lincecum looked to be in Cy Young form.

It was a quick trip. The next time I see the local teams will be back in the Bay Area, for the real thing.

Mike Singletary and his 0-4 team take the field tonight before a national television audience and – at this point – you have to wonder what odd thing Singletary might do next.

Last week, he didn’t shake the hand of Atlanta coach Mike Smith after the game. Singletary conceded that it was “poor sportsmanship” on his part. That’s troubling on a fundamental level.

Singletary is all about leadership, values, motivation. All those things that go into sportsmanship. Without that, what does he have? A yellow Hall of Fame jacket, but in terms of coaching credentials, not too much.

Other coaches skip the handshake on rare occasions. Bill Belichick comes to mind. But Belichick is a brilliant coach. His calling card isn’t leadership, its Xs and Os. Pretty much no one would want him to come talk to room of boy scouts. But everyone would like him diagramming plays late in a tense game.

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10 Oct 2010

Singletary and Sportsmanship

Author: AnnKillion | Filed under: Bay Area Sports