Kim Ng is about to interview for a general manager’s job in Major League Baseball for the fifth time, which borders on the number of head coaching jobs Tony Dungy interviewed for before Tampa Bay finally saw the wisdom in hiring him.
In other words, there has probably been a fair amount of tokenism thrust upon her in her time in the sport, and that time has run its course. The San Francisco Giants are next on her list, and for the franchise’s sake this had better be a more serious investigation of her qualifications than the others.
Not because it’s “edgy,” or “politically correct,” or “it’ll get some buzz,” but because she has been in the game long enough on the executive side of the sport to have accumulated the kind of knowledge that is worthwhile utilizing, and which the Giants need as they finally abandon World Series nostalgia for a brave new world.
Larry Baer, you see, is the president of the club and operates essentially in the same way that Jed York operates the 49ers – in charge of hiring and deferring to smart people. Baer’s gifts are not baseball gifts per se, so he has to be good at delegation. The franchise delegated its baseball operation to Brian Sabean 20-plus years ago and got far better baseball than it had ever gotten in the last century.
Now Baer is looking for a new paradigm, a baseball CEO in charge of revamping, streamlining and further revamping Baseball Operations -- not because the last two decades were failures or that the last two years were, but because the sport is heading off in a series of different directions at once, and already some people are thinking past The Three True Outcomes and bullpenning toward the next great innovation.
And the questions to be asked of Kim Ng should not circle around the central theme of “Do you think you can do this job as a woman?” but “How do you think the job should be done, now and for the next two decades?”
Not all her answers will be right. Nobody is good at predicting the future 20 years down the road, and nobody who thinks they should be that good should be allowed to operate machinery. But the issues facing the sport require an ability to know things, and know people who know more things, and Kim Ng can do that. She’s been accumulating names and knowledge her entire baseball career, which now spans 27 years. She knows this stuff having done it, from arbitration cases to transactions, and if she isn’t a dogmatic seamhead, sabermetrician or strategist, she is certainly more than merely conversant with all the substrata of the sport as it is and where it’s heading.
In other words, there is no reason why she can’t be the next head of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants, and not because she ticks off this demographic blank or that one but because she transcends them.
She may not get the job, mind you. There are other candidates who bring different but equally impressive resumes and experiences, and winning a sweepstakes like this also requires developing a sense of comfort in the person doing the hiring. She’s been hired enough times by enough people to know how to do that, too.
But if she isn’t hired by the Giants, the person they do get better be damned good at all the things she already is. She may not be a slam-dunk (nobody thought Brian Sabean would be back in the day, and he is a Hall of Fame-level executive), but she is an open-look three-ball from the corner as wielded by Klay Thompson.
If she gets hired, we’ll see if she is an open-look three-ball from the corner as wielded by Stephen Curry, but for now, it is established that she can shoot her shot. Now she just needs to know if the Giants are willing to get her the ball.