Results tagged ‘ Winter Meetings ’

Winter Meetings, media-style. (Somewhere in this mess of cameras sits a big league manager.)

Once you’ve attended a few Winter Meetings, you get used to the hordes of media, the long days and the overflowing crowds of reporters that spill out of every nook and cranny of the hotel. From the lobby scene, to the gigantic media workroom that houses hundreds of reporters and serves as a stage for press conferences, to the hallways packed with dozens of regional and national television outlets, everywhere you look, there’s a reporter or 10 lurking, talking amongst themselves, talking with scouts, talking with GMs…all trying to find out the scoop. And tweeting, of course.

Add to that a couple of hundred job seekers, and it becomes unfailingly clear that if you have anything to do with the baseball industry (or are trying like heck to get someone to hire you), you’re at the Winter Meetings.

Throughout the experience, I carried my handy flip camera everywhere I went, hoping to capture some of the atmosphere, from a behind-the-scenes standpoint. It’s easy to take get used to the frenzied pace of the meetings when you’ve been to a dozen or so of them, but it’s important to not lose sight of what a scene it truly is: organized craziness.

We attempted to capture some of it here. Hope you like it.

Some of what you’ll see in the video:

Brad Mills chatting up the media.

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Terry Francona and Peter Gammons on Boston-based NESN.

A very relaxed, retired Lou Piniella talks with reporters after press conference honoring four outgoing managers.

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Yankees skipper Joe Girardi waiting for his media session…

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…set to begin as soon as Tony La Russa was finished with his.

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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.

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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.

Winter Meetings, reporter-style.

Covering baseball’s Winter Meetings, at least for reporters, can be compared to taking final exams in college — it’s the most intense week of the year, and you walk out of the last one, on the last day, pretty much feeling like you were run over by a Mack truck.

Chasing rumors, attempting to separate fact from fiction, sniffing around for leads and running agents down in the hotel lobby is consistently exhausting, occasionally humiliating and all too often, it ends up taking you nowhere, except back to square one — where you find a new bulk of rumors to chase.

So, for the average reporter, the Winter Meetings are about as fun as a trip to the dentist. That said, the meetings are also in their own way fascinating. This is the only time of year that the entire the baseball universe gathers in the same city to talk business, so there’s always a chance for that blockbuster trade or splashy free agent signing. And the rumor mill never, ever stops churning.

Geographically, there are three main areas where you’ll find baseball people: the hotel lobby, the GM suite and the media area, which includes a workroom/press conference room and a long hallway occupied by the radio/television side — i.e., MLB Network, XM/Sirius satellite radio and MLB.com.

I spent Tuesday morning and afternoon floating through all three areas, with camera in tow (of course). Enjoy the pictorial tour, and apologies in advance for the lighting issues…the dim hotel lights are driving me nuts.

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The lobby
The hotel lobby is the epicenter of all Winter Meetings. It’s where reporters hang out, hoping to run into agents, and where agents strategically stroll through knowing scoop-hungry reporters are looking for them. It’s where scouts roam and exchange information with other scouts. It’s where job-seekers go to, well, find jobs.

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The media

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This gigantic room serves three purposes: it provides workspace for the hundreds of reporters covering the Winter Meetings, it serves as a press conference room when teams have trades or signings to announce (or when future Hall of Famers announce their retirement, as Greg Maddux did in Vegas last year) and provides space for the manager-reporter media sessions.

Here’s Houston’s manager, Brad Mills, addressing reporters.

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And the Mets’ Jerry Manuel

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And the Cardinals’ Tony La Russa (when I walked up he was talking about — what else? — his new hitting coach, Mark McGwire).

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Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon

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Radio/TV row

The radio and TV outlets were lined up in a nice, orderly row: first, XM/Sirius Satellite radio, then MLB Network and finally MLB.com. Not every manager was interviewed by every outlet, but the higher-profile managers usually made their way down the line over the course of about 20 minutes.

Mills, well-known as Red Sox skipper Terry Francona’s right-hand man for six years (and two World Championships) was a popular guy. Here he is with Casey Stern and Buck Martinez on MLB Homeplate on XM/Sirius Satellite radio.

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His next stop was MLB.com for an interview with Vinny Micucci.

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On his way back to the GM suite, Mills ran into Milwaukee skipper Ken Macha (shown below). The one thing that struck me through this week is how many friends in the industry came up to me to tell me how much they like and respect Mills. He clearly has established a nice reputation during his many decades in baseball.

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Other random shots:
I took this picture of Peter Gammons on Monday, not realizing he was about to announce he was leaving ESPN and joining MLB Network and MLB.com. As a former MLB.com-er, I consider this great news. Congratulations to Peter.

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Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was a popular guest, which is understandable considering he’s already announced he’s retiring after next season.  

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I’ll admit it, I’m an MLB Network junkie. I love its Hote Stove show and all of the old “All-Time Games” it shows during the day. In this shot, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is about to go on with Tom Verducci, Dan Plesac and Victor Rojas.

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The day ends in the GM suite, where Ed Wade spends most of the morning and afternoon talking with his staff and other clubs about possible matches down the road. At the end of the day, Ed goes over the business of the day and asks for feedback. He then ends the day with a brief meeting with reporters, although the work never really ends…talks and meetings can, and usually do, drag into the night.

In Tuesday’s media session, Wade reiterated his desire to re-sign LaTroy Hawkins and admitted signing Miguel Tejada is probably not happening, given Tejada’s desire for a multi-year deal.

Read about it here and here.

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