Here is a Q&A that I did with Ann Killion. I’m sure a lot of you out there know who she is. She’s an award winning sports columnist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here is a little background on her. She’s been a Bay Area sportswriter for the past two decades. She covered the 49ers as a beat writer for a couple of (glory) years in the early 90′s. She’s been a general sports columnist for most of her career. Which means she’s spent a lot of life writing about the Giants, particularly Barry Bonds and his milestones and scandals. Ann says the Giants are definitely her bread and butter. She left the Mercury News last summer and is now working for SI.com and Comcast Sports Net Bay Area.
King: What are your thoughts on Bill Neukom after his first year in charge?
Ann: I haven’t spent that much time around Neukom though I did sit down with him the day he took over. I think he’s very lawyerly – pragmatic and analytic. He might not have the emotional connection to the team that Magowan had, but that could be a good thing. He’s unlikely to make mistakes like giving Barry Zito a ridiculous contract because he looks good or outbidding phantom bidders so as not to “humiliate” Bonds. The team improved during his first year. I think he did the right thing in holding off on contracts for Bochy and Sabean. In terms of spending, I think the jury is still out.
King: Sabean has said the Giants will be after second tier free agents. Who do would you say should be the Giants number 1 target as a second tier free agent?
Ann: I’m not too excited about any of the names. Jermaine Dye peaks my interest a little because he’s local, coming off a decent year and is a great guy. But there’s no one I feel strongly about out there.
What are your thoughts on Tim Lincecum hitting arbitration with two Cy Young’s under his belt?
I think he’s going to be a very rich young man. And – unlike a lot of overpaid athletes – he deserves whatever he’s going to make. I’m a big Lincecum fan.
King: There has been some recent talk that Buster Posey can be the next Joe Mauer or Brian McCann. What type of a player do you see Posey turning into?
Ann: I think if he could be the next Mauer the Giants would be very lucky. I think he shows a lot of promise but is still about 12 years old.
King: We all know Bonds was the poster child for the steroids era. Do you think he will get voted in to the Hall of Fame, or do you think he will be on the black list?
Ann: I’m a Hall of Fame voter and I can’t tell you. I think all the guys from the steroid era are on the black list right now. I think Bonds will likely have to wait a few years. I’ve written in the past that I think baseball needs to take some responsibility for its own legacy, rather than just foisting it on the writers. Maybe a blue-ribbon committee with Hall of Famers like Hank Aaron could provide some guidance. I think overlooking the “morals” clause is ridiculous – it’s part of the voting guidelines. Everyone says, ‘well Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he cheated.” My response to that is: doesn’t that make it even worse? It’s a problem.
King: What do you think the Giants really need to improve this team?
Ann: Get a bat. Just like last year and the year before.
King: You have covered a lot of sports, so what’s your greatest sports memory of all?
Ann: That’s a hard one. Most of my goosebump moments have come at the Olympics – I’ve covered the past eight and seem some crazy things. Covering the Tour de France in 2004 was amazing – especially the time trial up the Alpe d’Huez. The 2002 World Series is definitely up there on the list of memorable events. My favorite assignment of all time was covering the 1998 World Cup in France – incredible!
King: Do you see the Giants turning into a force in the NL West in the near future with the pieces they currently have in place?
Ann: Yes. Their pitching is so fantastic. And the Dodgers appear to be headed toward chaos, thanks to the divorce of the MCourts. If some of the Giants prospects, like Posey, turn into the real deal, I think they’ll be back in contention.
King: Giants fans are desperate for a World Series Championship. I’m telling myself that McGwire and Canseco were probably on the juice in 89, so I will take that as a forfeit. Giants are now the 1989 World Series Champions. =) Would you agree with me?
Ann: Hmmm, if I follow that logic I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be any teams to award a championship to in the past decade-plus. Including those Red Sox championships…But I agree that McGwire and Canseco were on the juice – everyone talked about it even back then.
King: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this Q&A for us Giants fans. Is there anything that you would like to let Giants fans know about you?
Ann: My late father was so excited about the Giants moving to San Francisco he stood on Market Street in the tickertape parade welcoming them, with my older brother on his shoulders. He was a die-hard Giants fan and I grew up with Giants games as the background noise to my childhood. He didn’t like it when I became infatuated with the Swingin’ A’s in the 70s. Sharing Giants games with him late in his life was a real pleasure – I am happy that he lived long enough to see the new ballpark. One of these days he might look down on his team winning a World Series. Maybe.
~King of Cali