NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Winter Meetings aren’t fun. It’s not like watching an important September game or going to spring training.
There’s a lot of chatter, more electronic than in years past and few of the rumors ever pan out.
Baseball takes over a giant hotel for four days, and while it’s an important place for business, there are a lot of interesting sights.
Several big league managers: Detroit’s Jim Leyland, Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel and Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire, were universally accessible. One morning, Gardenhire stood in front of the meeting’s host, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, by himself, unbothered.
There was the occasional autograph seeker like the guy with a bat who trotted after Leyland as he tried to sneak out of the hotel for a smoke.
Players from the recent past showed up to try and land jobs after years out of the game. Kent Mercker, who pitched for Atlanta and Steve Sax, the Dodgers’ second baseman was around.
So was Buddy Biancalana. You don’t remember Buddy Biancalana?
The otherwise obscure shortstop of the Kansas City Royals was a butt of David Letterman’s jokes as Pete Rose chased Ty Cobb’s hit record. Letterman started a Buddy Biancalana countdown. The journeyman has dined out on his 113 career hits for nearly three decades.
He walked up to a playing contemporary of his, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington to say hello. Washington showed no sign of recognition.
There was Roland Hemond, the onetime Orioles general manager who said his first Winter Meetings was 62 years ago when he worked for the Boston Braves. Hemond was seemingly everywhere, sitting at Thursday’s Rule 5 draft with Jerry Krause, the architect of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and current scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
For a few days, eager youngsters overwhelmed the meetings. Not autograph seekers, but job seekers. Wearing suits that didn’t quite fit, they went to the job fair, eager to land entry-level positions in the minor leagues.
They dreamed of being paid to come to Disney World for the 2013 meetings.