I’m sure everyone is used to reading about coverage from the Winter Meetings from the insiders there, and professionals doing their job to bring the most up-to-date baseball news. This is going to be a bit different. I had the unique opportunity to go to the Winter Meetings, and acted as both a fan and a guy there to do, and look for, a job.
I was fortunate enough to head down to Maryland to attend the 2016 Winter Meetings, sort of. My university sponsored a trip to the Professional Baseball Employment Opportunity (PBEO) Job Fair that is held every year at the Winter Meetings. This job fair allows people to apply and interview on the spot for positions available in professional baseball. Teams range from short-season A all the way up to the major leagues. Basically to try and jump-start your career in professional baseball, and hopefully get hired.
Our group consisted of myself, three of my classmates, and our professor. We arrived on Saturday night after a long drive from the middle of Pennsylvania to the National Harbor. We attended the fair and some of the Winter Meeting festivities on Sunday and Monday, when we headed back to school to prepare for finals (yay!). While the trip was short lived, we got to see some cool things that go on behind the scenes.
We will begin our journey at the PBEO job fair, and it was cool. There were about 500 job postings available to apply for, and plenty of competition and people to talk with. The whole fair was organized and well run, and if you want a career in baseball I suggest going. We were only there for Sunday and Monday, when there wasn’t a lot of action. Most of the interviews are conducted Tuesday, so if you go, be sure to plan for the whole Winter Meetings.
A floor above where the job fair was being held was the media floor. There were about six or seven sets set up on the main floor of the hotel, ranging from MLB Network to SNY to SiriusXM Satellite Radio. That’s were most of the television was made, and they were within inches of each other. It was pretty cool to see just how MLB Network shot and set up their show.
But on to the actual Winter Meetings, the good stuff. There were people everywhere, and not just fans but everyone in the baseball world. Everywhere you looked, there was a member of the baseball media, a manager, or a general manager. It was incredible. It was hard to look around and not see someone important in the baseball world milling about. And fans weren’t approaching them or asking for autographs or pictures, which was surprising. Everyone was in a relaxed environment, taking in all the Winter Meetings had to offer, while at the same time doing their jobs.
I had the opportunity to meet some pretty cool people during my time at the Meetings. The most important obviously being Jeff Snider and Nick Hamelin of our very own Baseball Essential. But I also was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Astros broadcaster Robert Ford, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, and Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, to name a few. My interactions were brief, a few sentences if that, just saying hello and introducing myself. Ford and Rosenthal have ties with my twitter account, and here is a shameless plug to follow it, @BaseballQuotes1, so I wanted to say hello and thank them for being fans. I saw Maddon and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shake his hand and say congratulations on the World Series championship.
Maddon, by the way, was talking to everybody at the Winter Meetings. From fans approaching him in Cubs gear to spending some time sitting with Hall of Famer Art Stewart on a bench, as seen below. The man really is a superstar, and very humble and down to earth.
But just everywhere you looked there was someone important. I was in line to get lunch and turned around and Peter Gammons was signing autographs right behind me, I passed Harold Reynolds on the escalator, and Commissioner Manfred was walking around saying hello in between interviews. Honestly, it was very hard not to freak out at every opportunity I could get. I had tons of questions for almost everyone there, and if I could would have picked all their brains. I would love to know what goes on in the heads of some of these guys.
But I understood that everyone there had a job to do, and that the last thing they wanted was some kid running around bothering them. My reasoning for even being in the same building as them was to find a job in baseball, not to pester them, and I understood that. But it was still cool to see all the personalities and to see just how the Winter Meetings happened.
My experience at the 2016 Winter Meetings was different than most out there. I wasn’t there to be a member of the media or a fan, but I ended up acting as both, kind of. I tried to keep my fan boy levels at a minimum, but also retained enough information to write it down here.