Winter Meetings: some wheeling, some dealing, and a whole lot of lobby trolling.
Fortunately, there’s a giant Christmas tree in the hotel lobby here at the Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, or I might think it was already Spring Training time again. After all, there was a very familiar feel to the ride from the airport — a long drive on Beeline Expressway (including two tolls), an even longer drive in I-4, and at long last, a full view of chain restaurants, t-shirts shops and outlet stores as far as the eye can see.
Orlando. It’s never met a convention it wasn’t willing to host, which is probably why the Winter Meetings end up here every few years. The weather is decent, it’s a convenient plane ride from most East coast cities, and it has first-rate facilities for any size convention known to mankind. We were reminded of this on the cab ride over when dispatch sent out an APB to all drivers: “WE HAVE SEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE COMING OUT OF THE CONVENTION CENTER RIGHT NOW! WE NEED ALL HANDS ON DECK! YES, I SAID SEVEN THOUSAND! AND THEY ALL WANT TO GO TO DINNER. NOW!!!!”
I was happy that we were instead headed to the Dolphin hotel at the Walt Disney Resort and NOT the Convention Center, although this hotel isn’t exactly barren either. Welcome to the 2010 Winter Meetings, where nearly every member of every front office of every team, plus hundreds of reporters and dozens of agents are sandwiched into one confined area for a four-day baseball free-for-all. Participants fall into three categories: front offices who are looking to wheel, deal, or stand pat; media, searching for trade and free agent rumors, true (sometimes) or not true (most of the time); and agents, who are often the providers of the tidbits that eventually make their way through the information highway of the Winter Meetings — a.k.a. the hotel lobby.
The lobby is where most rumors start. They circulate around, and when valid, make it to the web. The addition of Twitter to the process has added an entirely new element to lobby trolling at the Winter Meetings, because now reporters don’t have to run back to their computers to break a story. Heck, no one even has to talk to each other anymore. They can just take out their handheld device of choice and within a few minutes send the competition into a tizzy. It’s truly a fascinating scene, especially when a high-powered agent or high-profile general manager just happens to be strolling through the lobby. (This is, of course, not the way it actually works. No one just randomly strolls to where a couple hundred reporters are hanging out unless they want to be seen and/or have something to say).
Ed Wade’s entire front office staff is here, along with manager Brad Mills. Wade will address the media at the end of each business day, so be sure to check back for updates on that front. We’ll also be tweeting throughout the Winter Meetings and hopefully bring you a little closer to what goes on at this four-day offseason convention.
On another note, Hunter Pence and Cincinnati pitcher Mike Leake are engaged in a hash tag war, all for the sake of charity. Fans are encouraged to tweet either #GoAstros or #GoReds, depending on your allegiance. If #GoAstros wins, Leake will donate $1,000 to the Sunshine Kids, and if #GoReds wins, Pence will donate $1,000 to the SPCA in Cincinnati.
The contest goes until midnight Monday and if you follow Pence on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed he’s pretty fired up about this contest. So if you have a moment, please tweet #GoAstros and make the day of your friendly right fielder.