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Goodbye to the 2009 Winter Meetings

Dec 10, 2009, 12:40 PM EDT

The roadies are taking the stage, packing it up and tearing it down.
They’re the first to come and last to leave, you know. I can hear the
sound of slamming doors and folding chairs. But when that last laptop’s
been packed away, you know that I still want to, um, tweet.

OK, enough of that. The Winter Meetings are over. Oh, they still may
announce something or other, but most of the writers have left and most
of the teams have too, so I’m going to aim the Honda east and head back
home myself.  If something big goes down yet today, rest assured,
you’ll be in capable hands with Aaron and Matthew.

But before I go, some reflection.  What did we learn at the 2009 Winter
Meetings?  Among many things, I think we learned the following:

  • The Yankees mean business. Not the old win-at-all-costs business, but a
    newer win-at-smart-costs business.  They got Granderson. They got
    Pettitte. They may yet get Halladay. As I type, they’re in the process
    of shoving Johnny Damon’s severe lack of leverage down his throat in
    some suite upstairs.  If the season started tomorrow, they’d be a
    better team than they were last season with a lower payroll.

  • The Mets are sound and fury signifying nothing. All sorts of talk about
    what they might do this week, but nothing happened short of some
    yeah-maybe-we’ll-sign-Molina-eventually garbage.  Sure, in this they
    were no less active than just about every other team, but the Mets
    didn’t do anything to lower expectations, and even said some things
    while here that caused expectations to be raised.  Ultimately that
    neither helps nor harms the ballclub — good moves are moves no matter
    when they come — but a lot of Mets fans are telling me that they feel
    jerked around by the team, and that can’t be good.

  • The Red Sox are taking things slowly.  Unlike the Mets, they have a
    front office that has earned the benefit of the doubt, so to the extent
    they have been less active it’s not too big a deal.  Still, this last
    day Lowell deal is interesting, as it seems to be clearing the decks
    for Adrian Beltre.  Of all of the places Beltre could go Fenway is
    where he’d make the most impact, so if that happens it’s a good thing
    for Boston.

  • I love the Fake Kenny Williams.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it
    before, but there’s a guy here who looks like a fatter Kenny Williams. 
    Not sure who he is or who he works for, but he has the same haircut and
    same features. Could be his brother. Many of the writers even mistook
    him for Williams for the first day or so.  Some of us saw him talking
    to people in the lobby last night and desperately wished that he was
    spreading false White Sox rumors.  “Well, we’re thinking about
    converting Beckham into a reliever seeing as how valuable they are
    these days.”

  • I love the Japanese media. They’ve inspired me to go to Japan and ask the manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters if he saw Alex Ramirez’s performance in the Japan Series and whether he’d like to have a player like Alex Ramirez on his team.

  • Twitter has transformed this business. I’m new to the business so I
    don’t appreciate the differences, but every last reporter here has
    talked about just how different this all is now that Twitter has been
    adopted by just about everyone.  Last year everyone had to wait until
    MLB Trade Rumors refreshed to see what was going on.  Before then,
    everyone had to wait until the newspaper websites refreshed.  Now? The
    news cycle lasts, oh, about seventeen seconds.

  • Despite this, not too many people really know how to use Twitter yet. 
    The New York Post guys get it. So does Buster Olney and Pete Abraham. 
    For the most part they tweet teasers to their stories with a link to
    their website. So many other reporters, however, tweet their scoops,
    depriving their employers of clicks and allowing others to jump them. 
    A scoop represents a lot of hard work. Why the hell
    do you want to give it away like that?  Here’s a suggestion: find a way to shorten the time it takes to turn reporting into publication — by, say, removing a couple layers of editors you all complain about — and get those scoops onto the homepage faster.  This is not newsprint. You can fix the punctuation later.

  • Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos is Howard Hughes. He stayed in his hotel suite all
    week, probably watching old RKO movies while wearing Kleenex boxes on
    his feet. Hughes had Jane Russel. Anthopoulos has Roy Halladay.

  • The sporting press needs to man-up.  All I heard all week was how cold
    and icky it was here in Indianapolis. And yes, it was cold and icky.
    But they’re the Winter Meetings, dudes. It’s the Hot Stove
    Season. Next year it’s in Disney World. I’m guessing it will be harder
    to sharpen the mind and crank out the product when it’s 70 degrees and
    everyone is drinking banana daiquiris.

  • That said, the sporting press is made up of some really excellent
    people.  You hear a lot about crusty and cranky old baseball writers. Even from me sometimes.  Well, just about every baseball writer who
    matters was here this week, and I didn’t meet too many crusty or cranky
    ones.  Sure, we see the game differently and we write about it
    differently, but they’re all pretty nice guys and gals.  They’ll lend
    you their phone charger if you need it. They’ll shout out the terms to
    a deal you’re writing about so you don’t have to look it up.  Best of
    all, they’ll share war stories with you that are beyond fabulous.  If I
    take issue with sports writers going forward, be clear about one thing:
    I’m hatin’ on their game, not on the player.

With that, I’m outta here.  I’ll be back bright and early tomorrow with a decidedly less cranked-up version of CTB.

  1. RichardInDallas - Dec 10, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    Great job, Craig, especially for a first timer as a pro. I have to say I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of information passed along by you alone, nevermind your cohorts. What used to take until opening day to digest is now complete. Thanks!

  2. Old Gator - Dec 10, 2009 at 1:12 PM

    Well, Craig, here are my thoughts, not that anyone really gives a hoot – er, tweet.
    First of all, if the whole idea of CTB was to move from a traditional passive, spectator-oriented sports news feature to a community of interest buttressed by dialogues, Twitter is counterproductive. CTB has been faster than the previous system, at least if your frequency of posting has been indicative of it, but still elegantly enough paced so that real conversations could take shape and your correspondents could warm to their themes if we so desired. With Twitter, not only are the stories compressed into little text farts, but the entire system now moves so fast that about all you can do is drop a quick remark like a seagull dropping clams on your car at a South Beach parking lot. It’s the difference between plate tectonics and the Santa Catalina hydrofoil. A hydrofoil that dives into a subduction zone, at that.
    Second, you’ve been blathering about that Verizon air card of yours, so there’s no goddamned excuse for your disappearing for nearly a whole day. Pull over at the occasional rest stop, crank up your windows so you don’t freeze your still-useless-though-recovering-value ex-lawyer ass, and post your occasional random thoughts and reflections en route home, wherever that is, even if the income differential you have ventured upon means you’ll be moving to a tarpaper shack by the railroad yard next January.
    Otherwise, you risk driving us all back to ESPN.

  3. Jorge Says No! - Dec 10, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    Well done, Craig!

  4. YankeesfanLen - Dec 10, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    Hey craig, this was fun to read with a lot of “spice-it-up” a bit surprises and perceptions. Next year, maybe you can sit with your brother and not worry about the banana daiquris too much. In a blogger sense, of course.
    Remember to pad your milage, the weasels have no conception how far it is from Indy to Columbus.

  5. RobRob - Dec 10, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    So Craig, it’s been two weeks. Do you have an answer for Andy McCluskey yet?

  6. lar @ wezen-ball - Dec 10, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    Thanks for the write-up, Craig. I said it before, but you guys did the best job this week covering everything. Taking those extra 5 minutes to put together 100-200 words on a move made it much more interesting and enjoyable to read than the constant stream of Twitter updates I saw (and I *like* Twitter!). For someone who just took on the job full-time, you oughtta be feeling pretty pleased.
    Re: your thoughts on Twitter above… didn’t you break the Harden deal yourself, over Twitter? What did you think about doing it that way? Does it work better for you because you all were working as a team and Aaron was able to fill in the details over here on CTB? I see the value in both methods. Just curious on your thoughts on it “from the other side”.
    Keep up the great work, Craig. You’ll be giving a good name to us bloggers yet!

  7. Simon DelMonte - Dec 10, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    I don’t know what my Mets are up to, either, but I don’t feel any particular need to complain just yet. It’s December 10. There is plenty of time to do what needs to be done. No, they aren’t aggressive like some teams in New York. But it’s where they are in the spring that matters. If come March 1 they look as clueless, then I will be annoyed. Right now, I will wait. And I wish that other Mets fans would calm down a little.

  8. Jamie - Dec 10, 2009 at 2:07 PM

    So… about those “two huge announcements” that Will Carroll tweeted about on the first day, the ones that would dwarf any transaction news? That didn’t happen, right?

  9. 1924 Jeff P. - Dec 10, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    Perfectly concise and hilarious piece, Craig, and so much easier than listening to the ESPN/MLB tables of blabbers. Now that B. Simmons has gotten too big for his own good and drowned himself in the NBA, you are baseball’s resident funnyman. Cheers!

  10. ecp - Dec 10, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    Craig, you got a nice shout-out from ‘Duk at Big League Stew: “Props are also due to Craig Calcaterra, the lawyer-turned-NBC Sports blogger who made his debut at these winter meetings with a performance so strong I had to introduce myself with a pat on the back to make sure he wasn’t battery-powered.”

  11. GBSimons - Dec 10, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    Well done, CC. Well done!

  12. AJ Gallo - Dec 10, 2009 at 4:02 PM

    I wouldn’t be right if I didn’t add my commendation for Craig to all of the ones included above. Thanks for a terrific job. I, for one, very much appreciate getting what is the latest news now as opposed to getting the latest news tomorrow morning.

  13. John_Michael - Dec 10, 2009 at 5:01 PM

    Craig, forgot to ask you…dit Tony LaRussa change microphones depending on what side of the room the questions came from?

  14. Daniel - Dec 10, 2009 at 5:16 PM

    I wanted to echo many of the above sentiments. Great job at your first Winter Meetings; this was the first place I went to check for updates. The level of coverage was excellent.

  15. DinkyDow - Dec 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    I don’t know if the Yankees made themselves better or not. Since it’s all about pitching, IMO, they are weaker. While Bruney wasn’t good, he did fill some innings and Coke, while not a star, was in 72 games last year plus he was very good in Sept. They need to get someone to replace him. Bruney was 5-0 with a 3.92 era but too many walks. Yanks got it right last year – pitching, pitching, pitching.

  16. Sarah Brown - Dec 16, 2009 at 3:58 PM

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  17. Nelson Matsushita - Feb 7, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    No Twitter marketing!? What’s with you man! It’s a MUST in marketing

  18. Donte Shiverdecker - Feb 7, 2010 at 7:17 PM is hands down the best Twitter follow site around!

  19. Simon Chenevey - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:08 PM

    Very nice site!

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