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Thoughts on the Winter Meetings

Dec 8, 2009, 7:00 AM EDT

Two or three years from now this will all be old hat for me. I’ll be of the Winter Meetings, not merely at them. For now, however, I wish to preserve some observations taken as an outsider to this mad process:

  • The central dynamic of the first day of the meetings was the extreme activity of nothing happening.  Whereas, I’m told, in years past slow news was met with a lot of reporters standing around talking about the lack of news, now it’s met with everyone tweeting about either (a) the lack of news; or (b) the smallest nothing of a rumor in an effort to bootstrap it into something approaching news, usually unsuccessfully.

  • I won’t complain about Twitter’s impact on the meetings itself — it is what it is — but it has the strangest impact on the writers using it.  Mostly I’m struck by how much content and, subsequently, pageviews writers are giving away to Twitter.  Sure, we here at CTB tweet, but not everything and not constantly.  A lot of writers who have primary online outlets, however, are racing to tweet things rather than racing to write even the most basic of blurbs about it on their own websites. Are they “extending their brand,” or are they “robbing their employer of web traffic”?  That’s for the web philosophers to decide, I suppose, but it strikes me that it’s better for me and NBC if you all are reading my b.s. here rather than on Twitter.  Dissenting views appreciated.

  • I’m struggling to think of anywhere I’ve ever been where the male-to-female ratio is so extreme. It’s like Amalie Benjamin and a thousand dudes. 

  • Peter Gammons doesn’t go anywhere without his iPod.

  • Tracy Ringolsby doesn’t go anywhere without his cowboy hat.

  • The Japanese reporters don’t go anywhere without each other. Ever watch the “Planet Earth” documentaries? You know the amazing scenes showing the schools of fish dashing around in perfect unison, darting left and right as if guided by a hive mind?  That’s the Japanese reporters.  They’re mostly interested in where Hideki Matsui is going and they really want to know why anyone would not want to sign Hideki Matsui.

  • I know I shouldn’t be, but I continue to be amazed that I can just leave my laptop in the big press room and no one will mess with it while I’m away.

  • They don’t have coffee in the press room. They have water and soda, but not coffee. I’m guessing the people that run the Starbucks in the hotel lobby have something to do with that.

That’s all I got right now.  We’ll be back at it all day today.  Yesterday we had 50+ posts, and that’s without much of anything happening. Imagine how much we’ll shoot your way in the event some actual news transpires.

  1. YankeesfanLen - Dec 8, 2009 at 7:26 AM

    Would hate to be following all those tweets, the quantity of posts here just overwhelmed me. Can’t we have Universe stories in blue headlines or something?
    Having Bobby Cox wallpaper and Windows 95 on your laptop probably is what keeps it safe- or is it Ozzie?
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Old Gator - Dec 8, 2009 at 7:27 AM

    I don’t mind if you guys tweet a lot, as long as you don’t defecate on my new car as well. Frankly, I think Twitter is the dumbest medium to come along since we tried to send intelligible messages through phones made of two tin cans and a tight string as pre-adolescents. All it did was distract from our weaning and toilet training, and I can already see Twitter having the same effect on all those oxymoronically titled “sports journalists.” Why write entire stories when you can expectorate McNuggets of information in a few seconds and consider your job finished? Well, maybe because you’ve been a keen enough armchair anthropologist over the last decade or so and noticed that fully developed essays are a waste of time in an era when the vast majority of the population has become so virulently averse to thinking. Twitter seems to be the ideal communication system for an era wherein everyone wants to be an idiot processing thought fragments like bee stings. Soldier on, I guess.

  3. John_Michael - Dec 8, 2009 at 7:39 AM

    Craig: No reports pertaining to the hotel bar’s bourbon selection?
    OG: Please don’t tell me you invested in the best horse and buggy whip producing company last fiscal quarter.

  4. Lorna - Dec 8, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    Agree about the tweeting Craig. I haven’t been to the sites of any of the guys who tweet a lot; I rely on their tweets. Then I come here and a couple of other places.
    Twitter, regarding the Winter meetings, are probably best served for little anecdotes they have nothing to do with trades and team moves.

  5. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 8, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    The Twitter phenemenon is fascinating. I can understand it if you have a posting/story to get out to the masses, but so many just dump ideas out there.
    And don’t get me started on the incomplete rumors some tossed out yesterday. I wrote about it, but man, we need a rumor rating system of some sort, something self-imposed.
    Won’t happen, but should.

  6. Tim Dierkes - Dec 8, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    I feel the same as Jason…if you are rushing to get a scoop out, OK, toss it on Twitter just to lock down the scoop. You almost have no choice, unless you can access your blog just as fast. But if you are passing along stock quotes from the manager, there’s no value in being the first to relay those via four tweets.

  7. lar @ wezen-ball - Dec 8, 2009 at 9:23 AM

    A couple of thoughts (one of which I shared via Twitter): most of these short tweets that we’re talking about are being put on twitter instead of a blog/site, I think, because the writers have nothing more to say about it. A “just throwing it out there” kind of thing. Craig’s right, in that they should be able to spend 5 mins adding a little context, but obviously they don’t want to do that. Maybe they’re too lazy too. Or maybe they think that writing a whole post on ESPN or the NY Times or something adds more weight to what they’re reporting than they’d like (even if they use a bunch of qualifiers… after all, we know how quickly people can jump on Craig here when he posts something short and simple).
    I think the real reason, though, is that the writers are all in the “scoop game”, like Tim said. When you’re trying to be the first person to report it, 140 chars is a much quicker way to do it then 50 words. And this way, they can throw rumors around on Twitter for days on end and then only write a blog post/article on the ones that have legitimate chances. It’s kind of a free pass (not that it should be)…

  8. Bill@TDS - Dec 8, 2009 at 9:45 AM

    I won’t complain about Twitter’s impact on the meetings itself
    I will!
    I really was never that into the winter meetings anyway, but you’ve got the screaming four year old child that has always been the winter meetings rumor mill, and Twitter gives that child a Red Bull. Mommy and Daddy need some aspirin and some noise-canceling headphones.

  9. Andy L - Dec 8, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    Twitter is frequently used to tease a story. Like “man ram to return to boston? new post up soon; will provide link.”

  10. Steve C - Dec 8, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    Is Amalie starting to look really hot?
    Back in engineering school we had two different types of hot. There was “engineering hot”, attractive for an engineer. The the hot that everyone else went by.

  11. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    I’m a gentleman and professional so I won’t lower myself to opine on such matters.
    But I will note — in the most gentlemanly and professional way possible — that anyone looks much better after staring at Hal Bodley and his ilk all day.

  12. IdahoMariner - Dec 8, 2009 at 1:05 PM

    1) I like the blog posts! I check here, then I check Posnanski’s blog (because he writes beautifully AND references things like Clash of the Titans), and then I check Shannon Drayer’s blog (because she gives great stories about the players) and only then do I check the twitter stuff. USS Mariner helpfully linked to a page of all-Mariner tweets, so I don’t even have to check the Seattle-Times blog if I don’t want to (love Larry Stone, but some days Geoff Baker is too much for me). But I come here first, because I LIKE to read, and I like the references to hitchhiker’s guide, etc.
    2)Speaking of Shannon Drayer…she’s there too, so it’s about 1000 guys to 2 women. BUt I am glad, Craig, that you are being a gentleman and a professional. stick with that, it’s another reason to love this blog.

  13. The Rabbit - Dec 8, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    @Old Gator Amen
    Craig, As someone from the same generation as Old Gator, I have easily adapted to new technologies as they were developed; however, I have also witnessed the evolution (erosion?) of decision making and critical thinking skills. In addition, there has also developed, IMHO, a misguided perception that the world needs to know every random thought that one may have in real time.(See: Texting)
    I have yet to determine if this is the result of too much childhood self-esteem training and/or Sesame Street, but it someone would like to offer me a grant, I’d be happy to research it. I promise to provide a full white paper report with underlying data in lieu of a Powerpoint presentation.
    Sadly, if America as a society suffers from ADD, then Twitter is the perfect communication for its members. For those of us who have seceded from that culture, please continue to provide insightful news/commentary in your well-written essays.

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  15. Jeff - Mar 9, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    Thank you for this great article, I really enjoy your blog layout.

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