10:00 a.m.: OK, so I planned on starting at nine, but the night went a little late in what was a surprisingly busy and active lobby scene. Certainly busier than the transaction wire was–despite plenty of rumors, a grand total of zero trades occurred yesterday. Buzz on the Manny Ramirez deal has died down, and talk of a Carl Crawford to the Pirates for a pair of young starters seems dead now that the Devil Rays realized that other the Tom Gorzelanny, the Pirates’ young starters are more young than good. Other whispers included a White Sox/Rockies/Rangers three-way deal that involved Michael Young (not going to happen) and a Cubs/Rockies/third-team thing that gets Jason Jennings to the Cubs. After yesterday’s inactivity, we’ll believe it–it being anything–when we see it.
10:25 a.m.: Some guy named John takes the podium to let us now that Cal Ripken will be here at 11 a.m. to talk about his new relationship with FieldTurf–“The Greatest Turf On Earth.” The day is going to start off with a bang, after all! I’m told he’ll take questions on FieldTurf and the upcoming Hall of Fame voting. I consider asking him about the time he totally blew me off on my first assignment ever at Baseball America, but think the better of it.
10:34 a.m.: The vinyl FieldTurf sign on the podium is drooping from the left-hand corner. A team of three attends to it.
10:47 a.m.: A quick perusal of the press release tables shows that we have something new! What great news awaits! Why, the Kansas City Royals have announced seven non-roster invites! Including the third overall pick of the 2001 draft, Dewon Brazelton, veteran lefty Wayne Franklin, and minor league slugger Graham Koonce.
11:00 a.m.: Quotes from the Cal Ripken press conference which would be fun to take out of context.
- “It plays and bounces remarkably well.”
- “The basic concept is the same–good natural grass.”
- “I’m not really into measuring.”
11:16 a.m.: After Ripken finishes his press conference, one that included some graceful dancing around the Mark McGwire/steroids issue, the press swarms him for photos and one-on-one questions. I’m not getting up, so it will feel like he’s blowing me off again–good times.
11:31 a.m.: Despite the fact that he’s about 30 feet away from me, BP alum and ESPN’s Keith Law insists on communicating with me via IM. It’s probably out of concern for the glare; Keith’s shirt is remarkably orange. Take the most orange thing you could imagine, like say, an orange, and make it one degree more orange. That’s Keith’s shirt.
11:44 a.m.: Two new stacks of paper show up on the press release table. As people get up to check them out, they realize that one is the transcript of Minor League president Mike Moore‘s opening speech, and the other is VP of Administration Pat O’Connor’s speech. People are disappointed.
12:00 p.m.: Somebody has put jugs of ice water on the podium table. The tension is palpable. OK, not really.
1:45 p.m.: Still no action after a long lunch ($14 dollar cheeseburger), that included many stops in the lobby to talk to folks. The latest random rumor had the Phillies and Brewers talking about a deal of Jon Lieber for Kevin Mench.
2:17 p.m.: In the afternoon, it’s manager time. Basically, managers come in two at a time and hold court for the media. It’s nice to see the instant popularity contest. Right now we have Willie Randolph on the left, and John Gibbons on the right. Randolph’s flock goes three deep and includes a pair of television cameras, while Gibbons has maybe 12 people around him and one guy from Toronto’s sports yapper shoving a microphone is his face. Big market/small market is everywhere, even in the press room. Even more sad is that while Gibbons is finishing up, hordes of cameras start setting up on his side of the room, most of them from Japanese outlets. I assume it’s for Terry Francona with reference to Matsuzaka, but it turns out to be Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon, with the Japanese media interested in Iwamura. There’s a very uncomfortable moment early on, when Maddon goes through some of next year’s lineup, which leads to this exchange:
Reporter: What about B.J. Upton?
Madden: Um… Um… he’s there somewhere.
Good to see that at this point even the Devil Rays are confused as to what to do with him.
2:29 p.m: Total number of people listening to Clint Hurdle? Twelve. Does Tracy Ringolsby’s hat count extra?
2:45 p.m.: While there are still no trades, that doesn’t mean we don’t have new paper on the press release table. One such release is from Andrea Mallis, Sports Astrologer. Andrea is based in Berkeley, California (shocking, I know), and wants us all to know that, “Sports Astrology is actually a sensible, discrete profession.” She claims to have an 80% accuracy rate, using her future performance indicators, and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson calls her work “pioneering.” I realize there is nothing at all going on, but at the same time, I’m still not allowed to make stuff up.
3:25 p.m.: In our first even match of the day, we have Tony La Russa on the left and Ozzie Guillen on the right. La Russa just won a World Series, but Guillen is in the bigger market and is obviously the better quote.
3:46 p.m.: Just so we all know, Tony Perez is available to discuss Dave Concepcion‘s Hall of Fame credentials tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the Europe 7 room on the Convention Level. Attached to this press release are tables that show how Davey is a better fielder than Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto, followed by a table that shows have Davey was a better hitter than Ozzie Smith. For more information, head on over to ConcepcionforCooperstown.org. This really is all I have. There really is just nothing going on.
The optimists in the room insist there will be a flurry of moves tomorrow; the pessimists say it will be the quietest Winter Meetings in recent memory. Maybe tomorrow will be better as teams begin to run out of time. Maybe.