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Greetings from the 2012 Winter Meetings

Dec 3, 2012, 6:00 AM EST

Winter Meetings sign

We are coming to you live from Music City U.S.A.  From the largest non-casino hotel in the country, if you care about such things. The reason: the 2012 Winter Meetings, where everyone in baseball who matters — except the players, for the most part — are assembling to, well, meet.

A lot of you know this drill by now, but for those who don’t, the Winter Meetings are baseball’s version of that one big convention the higher-ups in your company attend each year. Just, you know, with baseball. It’s in a big hotel. There are a lot of seminars and workshops and a big trade show and a job fair and if you didn’t know any better and just looked at it from the corner of your eye, you might think it’s the Annual Conference of Re-Insurers or the National HVAC Technicians Convention. Ninety percent of what goes on here is just an industry trade show, with people wearing lanyards with their name on it, trying desperately to find Blahblahblah Conference Room B so they can sit through some PowerPoint presentation.

But the 10% beyond that involves general managers, agents, players and the like discussing trades and free agent signings and positioning your favorite team for next season. There’s no reason why someone can’t sign Josh Hamilton in mid-November or early January, but when everyone goes off-site to a hotel, they’re just way more likely to talk about such things, so you get big deals. Last year Albert Pujols signed during the Winter Meetings. The year before that Carl Crawford did.  This is where the magic happens.

Among the magic on tap this year:

  • The new homes for top free agents Hamilton and Zach Greinke;
  • Potential trades for R.A. Dickey and Justin Upton;
  • The Tampa Bay Rays possibly leveraging their pitching depth to land a bat;
  • The Kansas City Royals possibly leveraging their position player depth to land an arm;
  • The Phillies, rumored to be in on all sorts of players, trying to find some way to revitalize their offense in order to better complement what is still a fine pitching staff;
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are as rich as Croesus, signing everyone who isn’t nailed down. And they’re taking a long hard look at the players who are nailed down.

In addition to the teams all looking to fill holes, the Winter Meetings will feature the Veterans Committee inductees to the Hall of Fame — we previewed that recently – and some public announcements from the game’s heavy hitters like Bud Selig, Scott Boras and guys like that.  It all happens here, and we’ll have it all.  Before that, though, some scene setting:

source:  I got here on Saturday.  This is a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, this place is gigantic and merely finding one’s room is a massive undertaking.  Seriously, check this out.  It took me 24 hours of trekking in order to get my bearings. Each of those different sections — Cascades, Delta, Conservatory, Magnolia, etc. — has its own giant atrium and gardens and waterfalls and stuff. Each also has its own room-numbering systems. So, for example, your room number may be 0179 in the Delta section. When you have to call the desk you’d say “I’m in Delta 0179,” which sounds a lot more like something from “Battlestar Galactica” than baseball. C’est la vie.

The second reason it was good that I got here early was because I was able to go to this cool restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time and have what was nothing short of a transcendent meal. I normally wouldn’t share this info with you because it’s a personal thing, but it will be important for you to know about it in the event NBC fires me for sketchy expense reports. See, the restaurant is called The Catbird Seat, that phrase was one made famous by legendary Brooklyn Dodgers announcer Red Barber (and also James Thurber), and since there is a tenuous baseball connection I’m gonna see if NBC will pay for it. If not, well, it’s been nice knowin’ ya.

The important thing about the geography of the place is that, unlike the previous Winter Meetings HBT has covered, there really is no central meeting place.  Because it’s is so huge and spread out there is less of a sense that conversations are being observed and overheard. Which leads to interesting things like what happened yesterday: my girlfriend Allison on an elevator, hearing someone congratulating some official from the Orioles about … something. Saying “this is going to be great for Baltimore.”  Maybe it’s some business deal we’ll never see or care about.  Maybe, though, it’s a free agent signing we won’t hear about until later today. I don’t know. No one knows. There is a sense in this place, far more than in any of the previous three Winter Meetings, that things are happening just out of sight, behind some fern, beneath some waterfall or in some random grotto. Which is exciting and fun. Oh, and if the Orioles do announce a big signing today, I’m going to choose to credit Allison.

Anyway, that’s the scene.  I’ll be here through Thursday. Lots of things will be posted here at HBT. Other, more ephemeral  things, will be tweeted here.  As always, be sure to refresh HBT early and often this week, as we will be posting something about virtually everything that goes down from the hardest news events to the silliest rumors to everything in between. But don’t worry: we’ll guide you. It’ll all be OK.

Now, into the craziest week of baseball’s offseason.  But first: a picture of the band that was playing in the hotel’s Irish pub last night. Their name was — really — Def Leprechaun, and I found that to be quite amusing. They gave a shout out to the baseball people in town and played Peter Paul and Mary’s “Right Field.” I liked ‘em. I shoulda bought one of their t-shirts.

source:

  1. Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    You’re up awfully early for someone on vacation, aren’t you?

  2. indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    Def Leprechaun. I’m imagining little elvish men with long flowing 80s rocker hair singing “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” It’s not pretty.

    I clicked on the link to a map of the hotel. That’s insane. There are some countries smaller. Lichtenstein or something.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:53 AM

      I’ve been to the Gaylord Texan and that is big too (although obviously not as huge as Nashville). The Christmas decor is AMAZING and there are these random touches like a performer on stilts walking about. Oh, and there was a 6 foot wine tree. Everywhere we went, whenever we passed a staffer, they said: “Welcome to the Gaylord.”

      • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:37 AM

        Like I always say, it’s not Christmas until the performers on stilts show up. :-) Seriously, it sounds pretty cool. Forgive my ignorance, but what’s a wine tree? Does it dispense wine? If so, I like this tree.

      • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM

        Ugh – all this faux-philanthropic babble, janitors dipping their cuticles in the punchbowl on the invitation of the stockboys, marinated secretaries getting drilled in the stationery storage by not-quite pickled midlevel execs who will claim not to remember anything in the morning, the elevators fill with horrible music and the stockboys are dumping Downyflake over the mannequins in the shop windows, fundamentalists bellyaching that they can’t have the inclusive rhetoric of holiday greetings all to themselves. Even though the prospect sickens, brother here we go again! Yeah, it’s the holiday season.

        I need an antidote. Time to pull out my Bad Santa director’s cut edition…”Willie! You pissed yourself again!”

        Now that’s more like it.

      • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:18 AM

        The marinated secretaries part doesn’t sound too bad, OG, although I can do without the music and the fundamentalist bellyaching over some non-existent war. Bad Santa is one of my favorite holiday movies. All of a sudden, I’m craving a sandwich.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:51 AM

        A wine tree is a tree made of wine bottles (full). I put it on my Christmas list, but, disappointingly, did not get one. Socks are a poor substitute.

        I see OG does not support my War on Christmas. FYI, no matter how many times you remind people that Christmas was actually banned in some places in the colonies (because it was a drunken fest) and that the whole holiday season thing developed in the 19th century and that the holiday was co-opted, it does no good. I like that we have a holiday where we pretend there’s goodwill, but I hate all the “Jesus is the reason for the season” signs I see around. Sigh.

      • sportsdrenched - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:39 AM

        I lead an Advent Study at my Church. I said yesterday if you honestly think Jesus is the reason for the season, you need to remember that during the month leading up to the Summer Soltice too.

  3. proudlycanadian - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    You are in Nashville and you listened to Irish music?

    • historiophiliac - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:44 AM

      Hey! It’s appropriate anywhere. Fiddle. Pipes. Although there appear to be neither in that picture. Hmmm, I may have to call BS on that.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:12 AM

        I an a quarter Irish myself, but for old time fiddle music, I watch Hank Snow and Hank Williams on YouTube. Snow always had a fine fiddler in his band.

      • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

        I love Irish music – especially old Celtic music, without that horrible English stain. I sure hope I’m still around when somebody writes the second tune.

      • mrwillie - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:19 AM

        If you’re looking for some old time fiddle playing you need some Vassar Clements in your life.

      • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        you mean in your afterlife, right? Last I heard he was still dead.

        ah well, what did I do with my Old and in the Way vinyl?

  4. heyblueyoustink - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    “We are coming to you live from Music City U.S.A. From the largest non-casino hotel in the country”

    This makes me wonder, what would happen if they held these meetings in a casino?

    How good is Ruben Amaro’s poke face, really?

    Could the Wilpon be that guy who loses it all?

    Would Cashman be the no limit bully in the poker room?

    Could one lose Bryce Harper on a prop bet with Sam Rothstein?

    • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      Isn’t that Bernie Madoff over there at the Blackjack table with Dustin Hoffman, and isn’t that Fred Wilpon over at the crap table with Will H. Macey?

      And hey – there’s Craig Calcaterra over by the slot machines with Hunter Thompson!

      • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

        PS – and that sound you hear is the deceased being cremated.

    • jwbiii - Dec 3, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      The winter meetings were in Las Vegas in 2008. The most interesting thing in my opinion was that my next door neighbor’s kid got a job in player development for the Tigers.

      He happened to be on the same as the Cubs FO.
      Kid: Do you know if that’s Jim Hendry?
      Stewardess: Yup.
      Kid: Could you give him this? (Hands her his resume)
      (A few minutes later Hendry walks over to him)
      Hendry: You need to talk to Randy Bush about this. I’ll introduce you when we get to the airport.

      So he had his first interview in the baggage claim area.

      • jwbiii - Dec 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        *same flight*

    • Cris E - Dec 3, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      This has happened before:

      [Bill finds out Mr. James lost him in a poker game]
      Bill: You can’t bet me in a poker game.
      Jimmy: I’m afraid I can, check your contract.
      [Bill pulls out his contract]
      Dave: Wait a minute. You carry around your contract?
      Bill: At times like these, it doesn’t sound so ridiculous, now does it?

  5. Pierre Cruzatte - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Can’t believe Mom let you out of the basement again after the WS debacle. Hopefully she packed some hand sanitizer for you, this time.

    • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      Craig must have found the tear in the jalousie window screen where the chipmunks get in and out.

  6. Charles Gates - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Orioles’ Twitter feed just said they signed a deal with tickets.com’s ProVenue ticketing platform.

    Take that, Dodger’s TV agreement!

  7. snowbirdgothic - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I assume the band played their classic tune “Armaugh Gettin’ It”

    • sportsdrenched - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:44 AM

      what about the classic: “Pour Some Sugar In the Jarro”

  8. buccobrigade - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Hoping the Pirates do something exciting that is good for the team this week but I won’t hold my breath.

  9. sportsdrenched - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    This is always my favorite week of the off-season. Well, next to the off-season actually ending. (The way our weather has been, that’s next week? Right?) If the Royals actually do land a legitimate ace, I might be excited about their 2013 campaign.

  10. cur68 - Dec 3, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    ooooo…Fountains. You said fountains. Do be careful.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 3, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      Allison will save him.

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