When the MLB Winter Meetings are practically in your backyard, you go. So Sunday afternoon I took a drive over the bridge into Maryland to check out the action along with some of my friends who are Nats fans.
The Winter Meetings are quite the extravaganza. All 30 teams set up shop; there’s enough TV and radio equipment and gaffer tape for an army; there are people everywhere: people who are clearly front office types, media people galore — print reporters, bloggers, all the MLB Network personalities, technical people, camera operators, still photographers — and dozens of earnest-looking people, mostly young, mostly male, walking around with prominent “JOB SEEKER” name tags dangling from their necks. The atmosphere was bustling and there was an air of anticipation. Not for the first time did I wish that my career path had been in TV production as I’d originally wanted.
I wasn’t there more than a few minutes when I saw Ken Rosenthal and Peter Gammons walk by, with a third person whose face I couldn’t see. This person was talking a mile a minute and the two of them were listening intently. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of them.
MLB Network had its MLB Tonight set in the most prominent spot of the main hall. Here it is in the early afternoon, before things got started on Sunday.
Mets network SNY had a set to the left of MLB Network; YES (the Yankees network) had one down at the other end. Why were they there when no other team network is there? Who knows. They’re New Yorkers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SiriusXM was also there. MLB Network had a second set one floor down, too, for its other shows and for things like breaking news interviews and recording interviews that are used as cut-ins. Lauren Shehadi was presiding there. Below, she’s talking to Rosenthal. Subject unknown; the audio was not audible, presumably to avoid feedback issues (the same reason we don’t get Johnny and Ray’s audio at the Nats Park MASN set).
We saw her interview someone — not sure whom — about Matt Holliday after the news broke that he was headed to the Yankees. She also did a segment with Rosenthal, Joel Sherman and Jon Morosi that was very funny even though we caught only a little. But everyone was cracking up, on-set and off.
Back upstairs in the main hall there was an area off to the side that was being used for stand-ups. We saw Jon Heyman and Sherman do interviews there. This is Heyman talking about Chris Sale.
This is Sherman after talking about I don’t remember what.
Here’s Gammons signing an autograph.
At one point we went to the sports bar/restaurant, National Pastime, for something to eat, and there we saw everyone’s favorite punching bag, aka Mad Dog. No, I did not go ask him why he has to shout all the time and whether he even has an inside voice. But it was reallllly tempting.
We got to talk trades with Mike Ferrin of SiriusXM. He thought Mike Rizzo more likely to do something nobody was expecting and that we were probably not going to get Mark Melancon, Chris Sale or Andrew McCutchen. I couldn’t hear everything he said, but one of the names he offered up was Greg Holland. (Holland had TJ, missed 2016. He did a showcase in October; the Nats did send someone to watch.)
We stopped Rizzo as he was passing through; he wouldn’t tell us anything, of course — “I know nothing,” he said — but he was in a great mood, was delighted to see us and to take the photo with us (the one Ghost posted the other day). He looked very relaxed and happy.
We saw Al Kaline, Alan Trammell, John Schuerholz. Donnie Baseball walked by and if my friend hadn’t said something I wouldn’t even have recognized him. He looks so much smaller and younger out of uniform!
We also ran into Valerie Camillo, who had been to a session for women in baseball.
Cliff Floyd was kind enough to stop for a photo. He is a lot taller than I realized — looks like he should be on the half-court, actually. I noticed he uses a very nice cologne. Didn’t think to ask him what it was, though.
And we ambushed Rosenthal, who was also happy to oblige.
I introduced myself to him with my Twitter handle, since he knows me in that milieu (I occasionally alert him to mistakes in his posts, when I think they’re egregious enough that he would want to know). He gave me a big smile and commented, “We should hire you.” I have my issues with him but he is a genuinely good reporter and a very good writer who understands the value of good editing, and that absolutely made my night. While I’ve worked with literally dozens of very high profile media people over my three-plus decades in the business, I’m still not above being a little star-struck.
My friends kept photobombing the guys doing the stand-ups — they did it to Heyman, Sherman and Morosi, and some of our other friends who were watching MLB Tonight saw them. It was hilarious.
Here are Greg Amsinger, Dan Plesac and Dan O’Dowd, live on MLB Tonight.
All of us had a total blast. If I could have taken off time from work during the week I would have done so and gone back at least once or twice more. If the meetings are ever scheduled here again, I’ll figure that into my vacation plans!
So today the Winter Meetings are behind us, and rumors from the Winter Meetings are still part of the unfinished business like Kenley Jansen, Greg Holland, and so many others.