Winter Meetings Behind The Scenes: Day One

SAN DIEGO - Kimberly Contreras is in San Diego for the annual MLB Winter Meetings. She will give us daily reports on her activities at the meetings, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the mayhem that is this annual conference.

In case you haven’t heard, sunny San Diego, California, is hosting the 113th Annual Baseball Winter Meetings. Oh, you’ve heard? Good. You wish you were here? Great. You want to know what really happens at these meetings? Perfect. I’ve got you covered.

This is the first time I’ve attended the Winter Meetings. Every year I watch and follow all the coverage, just like most of you. My emotions during the five days range from excitement (about the possibilities/ free agent signings / trades) to envy (wanting to be there, in the thick of things, as a fly on the wall, if nothing else;) to excitement again (because when at end of the Rule 5 draft, spring training is that much closer!).

I would record every show on the MLB Network so I would not miss an interview, a comment, or seeing someone I know cross behind the televised set of hosts. I’m recording them again this year, but won’t watch them until I return to Phoenix this weekend. You will know and hear more than I will; that’s ok.

What I see, hear and experience is what I’ll share with you each night. Don’t look for rumors on player trade/ signings, who which GMs were seen talking in the hallways of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, away from cameras or reports, because that’s not me. But I can assure you, whatever I share will be accurate. The rumors and the hype will be covered (and, at times, created) by the million other writers/ reporters/ broadcasters who are here. I’ll stick to what I know: people.

Ok, let’s get started: there are three main facilities in use from Sunday through the end of Thursday; and all three are along Harbor Blvd and in the Gaslamp district, where Petco Park resides: the hotel closest to the water is the Manchester Grand Hyatt, and it’s where many MLB team officials and other stake holders stay. You know the exciting, closed-door meetings that everyone wants to know about? This is where they’ll happen. The Hyatt is also HEAVILY guarded, and if you don’t have proper credentials (or, in some cases, even if you do…. ahem) you won’t be able to move around freely.

About a mile and a half in from the Hyatt is the San Diego Convention Center. This is where events like the Trade Show, and PBEO Job Fair will take place.

Next door is the Hilton; this is where most other meetings are held. It also serves as the home for minor league teams and staff. They are just across from Petco Park; home of the host team, and it will serve as the host to Wednesday night’s Gala. All of the events in a small area, and if you have a car, like I do… finding a place to park is a challenge.

Then again it could have been so bad when I arrived Saturday night because of something other than baseball (Crazy. I know… ) The NFL San Diego Chargers were hosting the New England Patriots on Sunday night. Since the fans of cold weather teams love traveling to warm weather away games the tourists were easily identified: they were the ones with t-shirts, shorts and flip flops, at night.

Either way, the restaurants, bars, and hotels in San Diego will have a green December.

Sunday was quiet, except for the “Business of Baseball” seminar at the Convention Center: Great speakers and presenters on almost every aspect of working in minor league baseball. Sunday was also arrival day for most; especially on the MLB side. The Hyatt was hoppin’ in the afternoon when I finally made my way down there.

No, I didn’t see Billy Beane. I don’t think he’ll be out in the public areas much, but we’ll see.

First people I saw at the Hyatt were from the Mariners: GM Jack Zduriencik, Scouting Director Tom McNamara, and my pick for AL manager of the year, Lloyd McClendon. [I’ve known Jack Z and McNamara since they were together in Milwaukee; Tom was the signing scout for Oakland’s new addition, Brett Lawrie, among many.]

Saw Bruce Bochy chatting with some fans and then I heard a voice through the Lobby that startled me – physically; to the point where I instinctively took my hands to cover my ears. It was that of Chris Russo, from MLBN’s “High Heat.”

Maddog Russo was very nice; especially after seeing that his voice impacted me in such a way. He came over to apologize and was very nice.

Monday is when the Winter Meetings kicks it into high gear. And, I’ll be there.


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