Winter Meetings Journal — Tuesday, Dec. 4

An Insider’s Outside Perspective of the Baseball Winter Meetings in
Nashville. Or is it an Outsider’s Inside Perspective? Either way,
here’s how it all went down for one low-level industry hanger-on: ME!

The previous edition of my Winter Meetings Journal listed the day’s events according to what time they happened. In the interest of "keeping things fresh" (as teenagers are fond of saying), today’s entry will be divided as if it were part of a classical music piece written during the Baroque period.

Movement I: On Monday, my schedule was packed full with an array of events that took me from the early morning to the late night. Tuesday was a bit different, in that there were very few things that I had to do. The day was mine, and it was my job to make the most of it.

I had attended the trade show the day before, but that had merely served as a preliminary run-through — a way for me to get the "lay of the land", as it were. Today was different. I wanted to go in there and meet lots of people (both the vendors and the Minor League employees roaming the aisles), and in the process get some insights into facets of the baseball industry that before now I had barely considered.  To do this properly, I needed to be "on": full of confidence and ready to network.

However, I arrived at the trade show and felt distinctly "off", seemingly unable to do anything but wander the aisles with a distant look in my eyes. This would not do. I left the show, thinking that maybe a good meal would whip me into shape. But nothing within the vast confines of the Opryland Resort seemed even remotely appetizing. I was reduced to doing endless laps around the complex, in search of the unattainable. It was then that I realized I had to leave the premises.

Movement II — Now, this is not as easy as it seems, for the Opryland’s location is almost comicallyCatfish
unfriendly to those who wish to log some time as a pedestrian. But drastic times call for drastic measures, and I resolutely set forth for an independent dining location. Some 15 minutes and several near-death street crossing experiences later, I made my way to Caney Fork Fish Camp Restaurant. Within the context of the Nashville restaurant scene, I’m sure that Caney Fork Fish Camp would be considered mediocre at best. But compared to the Opryland, it was magnificent. Transcendent, even. I got a catfish filet with hushpuppies and white beans as well as a side order of fried pickles, and washed it down with a sampling of some of Tennessee’s most well-known beverage products. Now I was ready for the trade show!

Movement III — The trade show features hundreds of vendors selling products associated with virtually every facet of baseball, and as such it provided me with a virtually limitless fountain of information and ideas from which to draw from in future articles. A few of the highlights from several hours spent walking around:

— Obtaining a pack of Minor League mascot trading cards from Grandstand Cards — the "bios" on the back of these cards are essentially blog posts that write themselves. For instance, I learned that Canaligator of the Lowell Spinners "recently tied the knot with long-time friend Allie-Gator, who gave birth to Millie-Gator on Opening Day 2006."

— Getting a sneak peek on a wide array of new giveaway items, from postage stamps to the koolgator to bottleheads to, uh, coggles.

— eating popcorn, jelly beans, peanuts, mini pulled-pork sandwiches, and ice cream products to my heart’s content.

— Meeting Katz Murai from the Sharp Sangyo Company, who had emailed me prior to the meetings. Sharp Sangyo is a successful manufacturer of promotional items in Japan, and they are now attempting to introduce their products to American audiences. It will be interesting to see if jet balloons and fortune tellers (among many other intriguing items) can catch on in the United States!

— Visiting the SRO Productions booth, where I spoke with an out-of-costume Myron Noodleman. ItMyron
was like seeing Gene Simmons without his makeup.

— And, most importantly, learning about Vaportek and its revolutionary ability to get rid of locker room odor.

Movement IV — After many hours at the trade show (and emboldened by my earlier trip to Caney Fork Fish Camp) I once again ventured out to an off-site dining location. After risking life and limb, I arrived safely at a Waffle House. More on this later…

Celebrity Sighting of the Day: Cal Ripken (hurriedly rushing through the premises after having his picture taken with some starstruck older women).

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