Note: Randy Whitaker is blogging each day for us from the Baseball Winter Meetings. We will posting articles each day this week. Follow along as Randy talks about the nuts and bolts of the meetings, nightly dinner and all of his baseball celebrity sightings.
Winter Meetings '17 - day 2
Each Winter Meetings the single busiest day is Monday. It is back-to-back seminars and other events. It is like this every year. So, what did they do to help spread out the workload and lighten the calendar? -they schedule a 5K Charity race before dawn on the same day!! Thus about 5-hours sleep last night was followed by a brisk morning run.
I like to run. Over last 2-years I've run a dozen or so road races. So, I wasn't going to miss the chance to run in December in Florida where it would be more comfortable than in Pennsylvania. The temperature at race time - 6:30A - was a balmy 39-degrees. So much for stereotypical Florida weather. About a hundred of us, including myself and Sens ASG Jon Boles, bundled up with whatever we had and made the circuit through the boardwalk and Swan and Dolphin complex before the sun came up. It was not timed, but I did time it on my Fitbit just for myself. I finished in the top-10 with a time under 23-minutes. Not too bad. And it sure was a wake-up!
Then it was on to the normal flurry of the big day. On the way to the Opening Session I walked past two hall-of-famers in Barry Larkin and Paul Molitor. Opening Session is the official greeting for the meetings with addresses from the Minor League brass on the state of the business and politics. Then each of the executives of the year from each league get recognized. The Yard Goat's GM Tim Restall got the honor in the EL this year. He deserved it for great results in the new stadium … and for surviving last season's all-road trip-summer without jumping off a bridge. MiLB President Pat O'Connor reported good overall results from the past season and repeated something I believe in deeply - Minor League Baseball is a community gem. For an average of $66 for a family of four, MiLB delivers a great product and a great value.
I attended four seminars. I won't go into the details as it is a little dry, but here are a few highlights: It's Fun to be a Fan. Memory making business. Next generation fan. Esurance is going away. Top baseball marketing categories - Beverage, Automobiles, Sports Apparel and Banking. Es Divertido. Family, Food and Music. The Latin Chamber. Why, Who, How, What? Interactive is the new Avid. Orlando Magic Interactive Lab. Evacuation drill. There … you have 4-hours-worth of high level baseball research and planning in a paragraph.
Between seminars was the annual Baseball Awards Lunch. Houston prospect AJ Reed won the Joe Bauman Award for the second time for hitting the most Minor League homers last season. Unfortunately for him, that is not an award you want to win more than once. It means you've been in the minors too long. Other awards: the Rawlings Women Executive of the Year, Sports Turf Managers of the Year (not Tim and Knute, if you can believe that!), Scouts of the year, Organization of the Year (the LA Dodgers), and the Freitas Awards for the top team at each Minor League level. The Reading FIghtin' Phils was the top double-A franchise for 2017.
Following a day of seminars, we headed for "Opening Night at the Trade Show." This is the big bazaar that takes place each year where vendors of all kinds show off their wares to the baseball world. Printers, equipment sellers, insurance companies, food vendors, entertainment companies, tech companies and many more put on a show for all to see and buy. The highlight of the event - we got to meet Duke! He is the official spokes-dog for Bush's Beans.
Then it was off to a late dinner at ESPN Zone on the boardwalk thanks to our friend Jason. More seminars and more trade show tomorrow. See you after a real night's sleep.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.