Baseball Brit’s Dispatch from the Winter Meetings – Day One

Have you ever wondered what actually happens at the Winter Meetings? I certainly have, so decided to fly to Las Vegas and provide reconnaissance for #MLBUK fans. Over the coming days I will pull back the proverbial curtain on what occurs at these clandestine events by writing a daily diary of my exploits in Sin City.

And so, on Sunday 13th December, we begin…

7.00am –  I wake up early as the morning sun rises over a glorious Las Vegas sky. Today is the day that Harper gets traded. I just know it. Giddy from the excitement, I upload a short video to my Twitter account. To calm down I iron my shirt and have a cup of tea.

9.00am – I walk to the official conference area in the luxurious and refined settings of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. A couple walk past me covered in vomit and I smile wryly, knowing my decision to go to bed at 9.30pm on Saturday night was the right one. I arrive at the media pass booth and get told to come back at 10am. I head to the pub.

9.30am – I catch the last twenty minutes of Newcastle vs Wolves and scour Twitter for any news from the meetings. Rangers beat writer, Levi Weaver, posts a photo of a large, empty looking media room. Seizing the moment I invite him out for an Irish brunch. He accepts. Yikes.

An electric atmosphere

10.00am – A skinny, lead singer of an indie band taps me on the shoulder and I tell him to jog on. I’m waiting for Levi Weaver.

10.01am – Jeez. Bit embarrassing. I apologise to Levi Weaver. To be fair, he’s skinnier than I thought.

10.02am – Not too awkward now. We talk about the Rangers and I learn a number of things: Levi’s upbringing in rural Texas, his two years spent living in Oldbury, Birmingham; and how he used to play guitar for English songwriter, Imogen Heap. We discuss banning the shift (both not fans of that) and Levi demonstrates, in the middle of the pub, how different rules would affect the foot placement of second basemen. I smile and pretend I’m not out of my depth.

11.00am – Levi finishes his Irish breakfast and realises he has missed a number of calls before hurrying off. We have talked about Adrian Beltre’s retirement, how much scouting has changed since the Rangers signed Nolan Ryan and the hierarchy of people at the Winter Meetings. Naturally, Ken Rosenthal is top.

The effortlessly cool Levi Weaver with some crusty old square

11.30am – I head over to the vast media room to learn more about what happens. From the outside, everything appears quiet but I quickly discover why. It turns out that the beat writers for each respective club get called to the hotel room of their General Manager each day. It is usually here where information on trades and questions are taken before stories are written and posted online. However, the big breaking news stories are shared first with national sportswriters such as Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan.

12 – 4pm – I sit in the media room and flesh out this article. There is a whiteboard with extra information on timings for press conferences over the coming days. I take note that Nathan Eovaldi will be speaking to reporters at 11.30am on Monday (7.30pm UK time). The managers of each MLB team are also scheduled to be available at various times over the next three days. Don Mattingly, a fellow moustache lover, is speaking at 10am on Monday, for example.

4 – 6pm – I realise why so little appears to have happened so far. It’s NFL Sunday and many reporters are upstairs, on the casino level, watching games. I stroll around and spot the MLB Network stage and Harold Reynolds talking to fans. Marlins Man is here too, looking resplendent, in what must now be termed, a retro orange jersey.

6pm – The Game Era Committee announce news that they have just elected Harold Baines and Lee Smith into the Hall of Fame. A palpable sense of disbelief seems the most immediate reaction, with the choice of Baines being particularly frustrating to the more sabermetric leaning members of the press pack. Rob Neyer lets rip…

7pm – I am turned away from the evening banquet due to not having a ticket. Seems fair enough, although I’m offered entry in return for $150. I pass. Vlad Guerrero Jr. picks up Minor League player of the year award and the Albuquerque Isotopes win the best organization gong.

8pm – I bump into Eric Hacker, ace starting pitcher over the past six seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization. As a former native of Seoul I am a little star struck and nervously ask for a photo. He is wearing a massive rucksack whilst talking to a representative from the LG Twins. Have I accidentally discovered a potential signing? Eric doesn’t answer my question regarding why he’s in Vegas so I do not push it.

Starstruck by former NC Dinos and Nexen Heroes pitcher Eric Hacker

9pm – I am ready for bed and have a busy day starting with Tampa Bay Rays manager, Kevin Cash, on at 9am. Jet lag finally defeats me. Until tomorrow folks…

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