If you are a diehard baseball fan, I suggest you make it to the Winter Meetings at some point in your life. Yes, you have to be credentialed to get into some events, but there are no credential Nazi’s going around kicking people out of the hotel lobby. For those of you that live in TN reading this, next year it is in Nashville at the Opryland Resort. A perfect opportunity. I am not going to go into how it works. If you are curious how it works you can read this article from “The Biz of Baseball.”
It is true that you need to have a plan going into it or you will get lost and overwhelmed. While I had a chance to participate in a lot of different seminars and round tables, the best part has to be watching people. Of course, if you are this guy, you should probably pay attention when you are walking down the atrium of the hotel. MLB Network cameras caught this guy not paying attention. Watch this video. How embarrassing
Walking from meeting to meeting it was amazing looking to your right and seeing Peter Gammons in a deep conversation with Jim Leyland, or looking to your right and seeing a hoard of media following Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Watching Frank Robinson check into the hotel and then see Tommy Lasorda walk up to say hello to him. Every person in baseball is there. Every GM, every manager at some point as well. Every media person that follows baseball attends. I caught FOX’s Ken Rosenthal huddled in a corner charging his blackberry. Had a chance to catch up with Buster Olney who actually joined me during the Southern League All-Star Game broadcast this year and spoke at the luncheon.
Because it is this way, that is why so much wheeling and dealing goes on. As a lifelong Cardinals fan, the Albert Pujols saga was quite riveting. On Monday and Tuesday he is going to the Marlins. Wednesday he will be a Cardinal…Thursday he agreed to a $254 million deal with the Angels? Huh? It happens that fast. Coming back from the Gala at Rangers Ballpark in ArlingtonI caught Scott Boras huddled around the media like this. The rumors go a mile-a-minute and everyone hanging around the bars and snack carts have a new rumors for you. It is constant and ever changing. For baseball junkies like me. That means lots of fun!
During the week I also garnered a new found respect for Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik. I met him in Mobile this past summer and my first impression was obviously good, but the M’s have a special GM. I am not even going to pretend that I have been around many
GM’s. In fact he is the only one. But, I just cannot imagine a Billy Beane, Walt Jocketty or a Brian Cashman being as engaging to the peasants like me. He sought out our Generals contingent and asked about certain players and how they react on and off the field. That is when he mentioned the fact that we could see a rotation in Jackson that features James Paxton, Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walkerto start the 2012 season. That would not only give the Generals one of the top rotations in minor league baseball, but almost $9 million in signing bonus money. Pretty exciting to think about. The player he wanted to know the most about had to be Vinnie Catricala. And why not after the monster season he had.
Some of the more cool parts of the week came at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at the Gala. They basically gave you free reign of the park and oh…free food and drinks. Do you remember during the World Series in game 5 when Tony La Russa had problems with the bullpen phone? Well, I had to obviously check that out. Okay, so I do occasionally show my immature side.
This entry seemed more about me and my experiences. I promise each entry will not be like this. Just wanted to share my experience and how much fun it was to experience the Winter Meetings for the first time.