Winter Meetings Time

Baseball’s annual meetings convene Sunday in Nashville and end on the following Thursday.

The 2,881-room Opryland Hotel will host nearly 1,000 executives from the minor leagues, manager leagues and media. The Phillies delegation will total 34. Then, toss in executives from their minor league teams.

The Opryland Hotel is massive.  It seems to be as large as the entire sports complex in south Philadelphia.  Heck, the spa and fitness center alone is 20,000 square-feet. There are 757 garden view rooms that overlook nine acres of indoor gardens.  Christmas decorations are everywhere.

Been there several times for winter meetings.  It usually took at least two days to figure out how to go from my room to the GM suite to the media center.

Two visits stick out the most, one pleasant and one embarrassing.

In 1983, I was given the highest honor a PR person could achieve, the annual Robert O. Fishel Award.  Voted by your peers, the Award was started in 1981.

Embarrassing?   All GM suites were on the same floor of a certain wing.  While walking down the hall looking for Ed Wade’s suite, there was a door open and I saw Jim Fregosi setting there.  Still thinking he was our manager, I walked in the room and sat down.  Only trouble, I was in the Braves’ suite and accused of being a spy.

Generally, the host hotel has a large lobby which is filled with media, baseball executives and more media.  The Opryland Hotel has multiple lobbies.

The week includes minor league and major league meetings.  Meetings on the major league end range from PR to trainers to doctors to traveling secretaries.  The big news of course comes from trades and free agent signings.

Agents love the winter meetings.  It is one-stop shopping.  A guy like Scott Boras will walk into a lobby and whoosh, he’s surrounded by media.  Agents love the attention.

On Monday noon, there is a huge Awards Luncheon in which numerous awards are presented on the minor league level.

From the Phillies minor league system:

**Baseball America will present the Lehigh Valley club with the Bob Freitas Award in recognition for long-term excellence in the operation of a Minor League franchise (in their first year of eligibility).   **From the Reading staff, Scott Hunsicker, Eastern League Executive of the Year and Dan Douglas, Class AA Sports Turf Manager of the Year.   **From Clearwater, Opie Cheek, Florida State League Sports Turf Manager of the Year for the 9th consecutive year and also the national winner for the Class A Sports Turf Manager of the Year.   **Darin Ruf will accept the Joe Bauman Home Run Award at the luncheon for the most regular season home runs in 2012.

The meetings end with the annual Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.

Baseball’s Hot Stove will heat up starting on Sunday.  Look for a lot of news coming out of Nashville.  Will there be a new Phillies center fielder?


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