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December 5, 2011

BP Unfiltered

Wallflower at the Prom

by Steven Goldman

I am someone who feels most comfortable in small settings—alone, one on one, or with a small group of intimates. I would not say that I am a recluse, but I certainly have tendencies in that direction, inclinations that the internet has made all too easy to indulge while still allowing me to keep tabs on the larger world. As a writer (as distinct from a journalist) I also have an interest in living in my head—it's the laboratory where I get my work done. What happens at the keyboard is just the outputting of a much longer cognitive process. That's true even when I'm writing about, say, A.J. Burnett, although in that case the cognitive process is about as brief as his typical start.

To the extent that the Winter Meetings are a place to interact with industry professionals, do interviews, and observe press conferences, I am right at home. To an extent it is an industry trade show where baseball people and associated media pilot fish—of which I am one, though physically and emotionally more of a grouper that hangs back from the scrum, looking thoughtful (when next you eat grouper, consider that oversized tuna's intellectual career as the casual observer of the deeps) reunite after a month or two off of the regular-season circuit to drink, tell stories on each other, and celebrate their established common ground through stories mocking or praising those same industry professionals, there I am a bit lost. I am read at BP and YES, do a weekly national radio show, and have myriad publication credits, but tend to feel about as well-known as your typical CPA. This may be just my perspective, because part of my pathology is that the more people are around me, the lonelier I feel.

For contrast, I need only look to my right, where Kevin Goldstein is sitting. Walking the lobby with Kevin is like the scene in Goodfellas when Ray Liotta walks Lorraine Bracco through the Copa and everyone greets him like he's a celebrity. Being Kevin's wingman at the winter meetings is like being part of Sinatra's entourage' walking through the lobby of the Sands.

Kevin even wears Sinatra's hat. I've never heard him croon “The Lady is a Tramp,” but it's only a matter of time. I wish I knew how to be like that, or had the magnetism to be like that, or even more, knew how to get more done faster so I could enjoy said magnetism, because even if I had it, I would still want to have that keyboard under my fingers. Anything that takes you out to eat, drink, and be merry (or even IM, telephone, and sulk) takes you away from the words, and far more than people, the words are what I live for. Writing this, I realize you have to make your choices in life, and this one is mine. I don't have to love it, though.

I have time to contemplate all of this for two reasons: first, it has been a slow day, with not much in the way of news or even truly exciting rumors to report. Davey Johnson said he is open to Bryce Harper competing for Nats' right field spot in spring training (and failing that, coming up to stay in June or July), but why wouldn't he be? What harm can there be in giving the buy spring training at-bats and seeing if he can make the jump? I doubt that means that he'll make it, particularly with the new CBA expanding the number of second-year players eligible for arbitration, but what the heck, it's a reason to follow the Nats during the exhibition season.

Second, in writing this, I have had to return to the church-like media room to write, which means I am almost back in my comfort zone, but only almost—for just behind the door over my shoulder is the lobby, where baseball's senior prom continues. I will return there as soon as I am done writing, leaving this place where I can talk to you and resuming my role as wallflower at the prom. I'm going to hunt down Kevin and see if he's hanging with Dino and Sammy.

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

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Baseball Prospectus Ne... (12/02)
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BP Unfiltered: Organiz... (11/28)
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BP Unfiltered: Overdue... (12/05)
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