Brian Sabean

Sabean: Q&A with bloggers was “like to talking to the beat guys”

Pitchers and catchers have reported, and the San Francisco Giants are officially open for business. A few members of the Bay Area media are in Scottsdale following the team, including Ray Ratto. Ratto wrote a great column on Saturday titled “Brian Sabean – a man amongst bloggers,” about a subject of great interest to me: Brian Sabean and his thoughts on the Q&A session he had with myself and three other Giants bloggers (Julian Levine of Giants Nirvana, Scott Willis of Crazy Crabbers and Steven Robles of SF Giants Rumors).

Several interesting tidbits in Ratto’s piece (at least to this blogger), including what led to Sabean and Bochy answering our questions and how the process went in Sabean’s mind:

“Actually, it was a lot like talking to the beat guys,” the Giants’ general manager said Saturday, the day that the pitchers and catchers reported. “They asked pretty much the same questions, by and large. They seemed pretty knowledgeable for the most part.”

Now maybe he expected different. Maybe he expected more savagery-based-on-stereotype. Maybe he thought the questions would be dominated by decimal points and impenetrable acronyms. Maybe he thought…

“Well, I really didn’t give a lot of thought about it one way or another,” he said. “It was just a Q-and-A with reporters, is the way I looked at it. Our P.R. department thought they were a part of the fan base that we could reach better. It was fine.”

No surprise here, especially the part about the P.R. department. I didn’t know we’d be asking Sabean questions until one of the P.R. specialists emailed me the night before, and I didn’t know Bochy would be a part of the Q&A until he walked into the suite a few minutes before Sabean. I give the P.R. team credit — it was a gamble. If one of us asked a question that really upset either Sabean or Bochy, or if we came off as uneducated fanboys, the session would’ve been a flop.

A few P.R. employees were in the room with us as we chatted for about a half hour, and it went amiably enough that none of them felt the need to step in. I was actually surprised we got as much time as we did; most group sessions I’ve been involved with have been shut down after about 5-10 minutes by a P.R. staffer announcing, “one more question” or “two more questions.”

Ratto’s column touches on some of the ways that Sabean is perceived by the unwashed masses and basement-dwelling bloggers, particularly as a veteran-loving, stat-hating old schooler. Ratto’s take: with the amount of youth on the team, particularly in the pitching staff and at catcher, third base and other positions, Sabean is by no means anti-youth. And with employees on the team who delve deeply into the kind of advanced metrics that (some) bloggers are known to fancy, Sabean has access to the kind of information many feel like he ignores.

Mostly, Ratto’s theme centers on how Sabean’s changed in multiple ways over his 15-year tenure as general manager of the Giants, and providing access to media entities that didn’t exist back in 1997 is just another way Sabean has adapted.

I loved Ratto’s conclusion, his second-to-last sentence especially:

But with an information glut that needs constant tending and feeding, he has been forced to consider other outlets for advancing the organization’s methodologies. So he had a Q-and-A with bloggers, and though nothing is scheduled, he is willing to expand the conduits to the audience more in the future.

“It’s what you have to do in this day and age, and like I said, it was like to talking to the beat guys,” he said, squinting into the sun as players came and went in front his dugout perch.

He did not say whether that comparison flatters, flat-lines or shames beat writers, bloggers, or the media en masse. Some views of the outside world he continues to keep to himself.

 

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