“This one is really satisfying because the game has become so intelligent and it’s so competitive,” Beane told Sporting News at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday. “When I was told I won it, I kinda felt like Sally Field at the Academy Awards years ago, y’know? Like maybe you’re still relevant. And I say that out of respect for my peers. The game is so intelligent now, and it’s so hard to gain an advantage intellectually on teams, and for us — and I say ‘us’ because it’s not just me, it’s David Forst, it’s Billy Owens and others — to win under those circumstances is what I’m most proud of.”SN 2018 AWARDS: Player of the Year | NL Rookie of the Year | AL Rookie of the Year | Comeback Players of the Year | NL Managers of the Year | AL Manager of the YearThe Sporting News Executive of the Year award was first presented in 1936, and Beane is only the fourth person to win the award at least three times. Branch Rickey — with the Cardinals in 1936 and 1942 and the Dodgers in 1947 — and Walt Jocketty — 2000 and 2004 with the Cardinals, 2010 with the Reds — won three times, and George Weiss won four (1950, 1951, 1952, 1960, all with the Yankees).To win the 2018 award 19 years after his first one speaks to Beane’s ability to adapt and maintain success. He doesn’t own that record, though. Bill Veeck won his first SN executive award in 1948 with the Indians and his second in 1977 with the White Sox. “You asked if I’ve changed as an executive, and you take those first five or six years, maybe even the first 10 years I did this job, this time of the year there’s a certain anxiety, that you have to get things done now, have to have it ready. And I’ve realized that you have a long time to build a team,” Beane said. “Last year was a great example. We literally had to invent a team on the fly. Every one of the starters we ended with, none of them were with us in spring training. So you realize that, listen, if you’re calculating and you take your time and you have some patience, good things will happen. I’ve learned that over time.”And that lesson is part of what helped make 2018 memorable. “The two most enjoyable years I’ve had as an executive were 2012, when I was lucky enough to receive the honor from Sporting News, and I’m proud of that, and then this year,” Beane said. “A little trivia question, in 2012, we didn’t spend one day in first place the whole year, but yet we won the division because we won the last game. I remember telling Bobby (Melvin, the A’s manager), ‘This is great! We’re having a really good year and nobody’s following us. The media doesn’t care and we’ve got the whole place to ourselves.’ They didn’t really pick up on us until the last week. This year, we started our run a little bit earlier. We started, really, in June. That’s when we began to take off. It’s just really fun to watch young players develop, to go from good players to star players, that’s really fun to watch.”Melvin has been the club’s manager since midway through the 2011 season, and he’s seen Beane’s work as much as anyone. “In my first year I was interim, so a little bit more at stake that year. In half a year you have to show the organization what you can do. And I think our relationship helped as far as that went,” Melvin told SN. “But our discussions, our day-to-day interactions have been consistent. David (Forst), with an elevated role now, the three of us always have conversations every day. But once you’re around for somebody for a period of time, then you kind of know what they’re thinking at times and what routes you’re going to go. It’s been pretty seamless here. It’s been easy for me to work with these guys, the fact I’ve been around for a little while means that we work pretty well together.”SPORTING NEWS 2018 ALL-STARS: National League | American League To go from three frustrating years to 97 wins and the postseason, lots of players — rookies and newcomers — had to exceed expectations. SN asked Beane whether there was an acquisition or two from the 2018 team that really stood out to him. “One of the guys who had an amazing year for us was Stephen Piscotty. You look at his numbers … he had just a terrible circumstance with his family that he was dealing with at the beginning of the year, and when he took off, he just kept going,” Beane said. “He was a Gold Glove-caliber right fielder, hit for power, had just some huge hits for us. In fact, one of the games when we started to turn it over was a home run he hit in San Diego that tied the game up, and we ended up winning it. From that point on, we just took off. No. 1, given what he went through, to bring him home was great. And No. 2, for him to have such an amazing year, a great guy and a local guy, I don’t think enough people talk about what a great year he had, and he really did.”And so did the A’s. LAS VEGAS — For the third time in his groundbreaking career as a forward-thinking front-office guru, Oakland A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has won the Sporting News Executive of the Year award. Beane first won the award, which is voted on by front-office executives around the league, in 1999. His second award came after the 2012 season. In 2018, his Oakland A’s stunned the baseball world by winning 97 games, after three seasons of 75 or fewer wins and preseason predictions that didn’t expect them to sniff .500. His peers recognized the accomplishment.