Setting the alarm for 3 a.m. is something I rarely look forward to. Last Sunday, however, was different.
That day, I was heading to the baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.
That was the start of a three-day journey where I could personally thank the people who have helped me get to this point, as well as meet new people in and around the game of baseball. To say I was excited would be putting it lightly.
It was a long ten-hour drive, but we finally got to Nashville. From there, I immediately made my way to the main event: the Opryland Hotel.
Walking into the hotel, I couldn’t believe it. You know when you have high expectations for something, yet they get completely blown out of the water? This was it. Calling the Opryland a “hotel” is like calling Mike Trout a “power hitter”; it’s technically true, but it doesn’t begin to tell the story.
As I continued to work my way around the hotel to get comfortable with my surroundings, all I could do was laugh because there was no chance I was going to know where everything is. I knew I was going to get lost quite often in the hotel.
After about an hour of searching, I finally found my way to the media room where I was able to get my press credential. Once I was able to put the credential around my neck, it began to sink in that this was all real.
Over the course of the next couple of hours, I met with a few of my contacts, but I knew it was going to be completely different the next day.
When I came back to the Opryland for the official first day of the meetings, I was pretty nervous. The lobby buzzed with a bunch of people who looked like businessmen, which can be a bit intimidating for someone who isn’t even 20.
It took some time to get comfortable, but it finally happened.
Once I settled in, I went for it. I started talking to a couple of my contacts, and while I was meeting with one of them, I recognized someone else out of the corner of my eye. He looked really familiar — someone I should know instantly.
Then it clicked.
It was Ken Rosenthal walking down the hallway with his head buried in his phone trying to get the latest scoop.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know how much I admire Ken, so just seeing him — and realizing that he had the same media credential around his neck that I had around mine — was a pretty cool experience for me.
As the day went on, I met up with Nick Hamelin, Jack McNeil, and Jeff Snider of BaseballEssential.com. I also continued to meet with my contacts and talk with other members of the media, including Jon Heyman of CBSSports, Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian of MLB Network, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, and Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. All of them are fantastic people and offered me great advice and support.
In the evening, around 6 p.m., I got a text from one of my contacts. It read: “Want to meet up? I’m free. I’m at the bar Fuse.”
I quickly replied, saying I would be there in five minutes.
Thirty minutes later, I still was not at Fuse. I was hopelessly lost.
I stopped to gather my bearings, to text this contact that I was more than lost. When I finished texting him, I found myself in the middle of what appeared to be a restaurant serving dinner to a wedding party. Whoops. Luckily, a waiter helped lead me in the right direction to the correct bar and I was finally able to meet my contact.
After meeting with that contact and walking around the hotel to meet others, it was already 11 p.m. I made a rookie mistake and didn’t stay properly hydrated that first day, so I was beginning to feel the effects of that and decided to call it a day.
Tuesday was my third day in Nashville, the second day of the meetings, and my last day in town. Going in, I had previously arranged about 70 meetings with contacts of mine. By about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, I was able to meet every single person, as well as an additional 30 or so people.
I met over 100 people and collected about 25 business cards. The conversations I was having with these people were open and honest. That’s the only way to conduct business. If you are able to tell these people what you are all about and why you’re doing this, you’ll be just fine.
Throughout all of these discussions, I was extremely confident. If you are trying to tell these people why they should talk to you, you better be sure of yourself.
Once I was done with my scheduled and impromptu meetings, I met up again with the Baseball Essential crew to grab some dinner and talk about the site and life in general.
When dinner was over, I went over to where all the baseball people hung out at night: the Cascades Bar. I found a familiar face and he introduced me to at least 10 agents and scouts. This was going much better than I expected; I had a great spot in the bar and I was meeting all these people. Things couldn’t be going better.
After a couple of hours in the bar, I worked my way to a different bar to meet with a group of agents. Unfortunately, I got lost again and was an absolute mess when I ended up meeting these people. My outside appearance was a sweaty teenager, but I remained confident on the inside.
Once that meet up concluded, I worked my way back to the front of the hotel and I noticed Ken Rosenthal standing there by himself. I thought to myself, “Now’s your chance. Go talk to him.”
So I worked my way up there and introduced myself, feeling extremely confident. I was ready to ask him the first of about five questions when all of the sudden my mind went blank.
I asked him a question, but I’m pretty sure it came out as, “Fjksdfkjsdfdsfdk.” I had met with hundreds of people throughout the day, but I was extremely nervous meeting Ken. I’m pretty sure he sensed that I was nervous, so thankfully he took over the conversation and asked me questions.
By that time, it was 1 a.m. and I was tired. My feet were killing me and I was mentally exhausted. So I walked the mile back to my hotel and called an end to my time at the Winter Meetings.
When I first walked into the Opryland on Sunday, an agent told me the Winter Meetings were nothing special. He couldn’t have been more wrong. This was an absolute blast and something I’ll never forget.
This was a taste of what I want to do for the rest of my life and I have no plans to stop. None. You’re stuck with me.