Once upon a time the winter meetings mainly consisted of boozy old general managers getting boozy and doing business. Today, it is one of the biggest events of the baseball year, and certainly the highlight of the off-season. It is covered breathlessly on-line and on TV. It’s where fantasy teams are born. It’s about rumors and gossip and Did You Hear? and I Gotta-Scoop.
I went to the 2003 winter meetings in New Orleans after my first year blogging and introduced myself around to guys like Tom Verducci and Jack Curry, Howard Bryant and Tim Marchman, Nate Silver and Joe Sheehan. Jay Jaffe and I went down together. Will Carroll, who had been to the ’02 meetings urged us to come. It’s the perfect place for a guy like Will who loves the adrenaline of the scoop world, of being on the inside, or at least being close to people on the inside.
I had a good time and met a bunch of great guys but I haven’t been back and wouldn’t want to go to another winter meetings unless I was getting paid for it. For a writer, it is a lot of hard work.
From what I could tell in my one brief encounter, being at the meetings means a lot of standing around. It has all the trappings of a seventh-grade dance, everybody anxious, waiting for something to go down. But instead of the girls being the objects of desire for the groups of men, general managers like Billy Beane and Theo Epstein, personalities like Peter Gammons and Buster Olney, are the ones that everyone is gawking at, pretending that they are not being obvious.
The hotel lobby is filled with columnists and beat writers (Internet writers and bloggiers now too), agents and their assistants, general managers and their assistants, a few managers, a stray former player possibly looking for a coaching job, smart college kids looking for front office work.
It is a heavily cologned scene. Too bad Hunter Thompson isn’t still around.
The Hot Stove has been ice cold this year unless you consider the Giants signing Edgar Renteria or the Cardinals trading for Khalil Greene hot transactions. This year the meetings are in Vegas, which you would hope will enough by itself to instigate some action. Vegas is either the best place in the world to holding the winter meetings or the worst (or maybe it’s just a little bit of both, depending on your luck).
Even if nothing much happens, being in Vegas at least gives caption writers and columnists plenty to work with. We’ll see variations on a theme—Viva Las Vegas, Leaving Las Vegas, Ocean’s Eleven, The Rat Pack, Snake Eyes, Flush, Full House, Stip Poker, you name it. Yes, the writers should have a field day.
We’ll have our ears to the ground, breathlessly following the breathless action, hoping above all else, that somebody gives us something to be breathless about.
What, if anything, do you think will change in the Yankee Universe in Vegas?