Winter Meetings Blog Writer Journal, December 7

Last week, I dedicated my little slice of internet infinity to the recollections and reflections of four Winter Meetings job seekers. This week, I’ll provide my own Twitter-centric account of the week that was.

Monday, December 7

Monday is when the Winter Meetings begin in earnest. It is also the busiest day of the Meetings, at least as regards previously scheduled events. I began the day in a haze — that’s what late nights at the bar will do to a body — but, nonetheless, I had a plan. That plan was to attend a couple of Bob Freitas Business Seminar presentations.


Booz: An Appropriate Winter Meetings Sponsor

The Bob Freitas Business Seminar is an annual event, the bulk of which takes place on Monday. Presentations, dubbed “Breakout Sessions”, are broken into five categories — Sales and Marketing, Operations, Licensing and Marketing, Community and Media Relations, and Fielder’s Choice — and run concurrently. When choosing which seminar to attend, I employ a simple strategy: Which one is the most likely to give me something interesting to write about?

Among the 8:30 a.m. offerings, I chose “You’re Still Our Teammate, You’re Still Our Brother: Planning the Announcement of Baseball’s First Openly Gay Active Player.” This presentation dealt with how the Milwaukee organization handled David Denson’s coming out announcement. Denson, who spent the 2015 season with Rookie-level Helena and Class A Wisconsin, became the first active affiliated player to come out as gay.

On hand to talk about the subject was Brewers vice president of communications Tyler Barnes and MLB ambassador for inclusion Billy Bean (not be confused with A’s general manager Billy Beane. Yes, it’s extremely weird that there are two prominent “Billy Bean(e)s within the world of Major League Baseball).

barnes_beanIn the above photo, Barnes is seated on the left and Bean is speaking. This is an apropos image, as the vast bulk of the session was given over to Bean’s re-telling of his own struggles as a closeted player in the 1980s. His story is interesting and important, but by the time he was done there were only about 10 minutes left to deal with the issue of “Okay, how did the Brewers handle Denson’s case?” and “What might your team do when (not if), this story repeats itself?” I left feeling disappointed. This was a timely, worthwhile topic, but attendees weren’t given much pragmatic advice and guidance.

But such is the reality of vast, multi-faceted events such as the Freitas Seminar. They can’t all be winners. Next on the agenda was this:

This session was great. I’d never given thought to this issue before, but Earnell Lucas ably convinced me of its importance. He gave an organized and balanced presentation on the myriad ways in which drone usage can (and will) impact the Minor League Baseball experience. I ended up taking so many notes, and becoming so interested in the topic, that I wrote an article about it later in the day.

I think the article came out pretty well. My photographic attempt did not. My apologies to Lucas (at the podium) and his panelists (Adam Nuse, Jason Compton, Darren Spagnardi).

dronepanelIt was now time for the Opening Session, when the entire industry gathers in a gigantic room.


Another award-winning photo

The event, as always, was emceed by Iowa Cubs broadcaster Randy Wehofer. As always, League Executive of the Year Awards were distributed and, as always, Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner gave his “State of the Union”-style address. Minor League Baseball vice president Stan Brand also took the podium, speaking strongly against pending litigation that seeks to classify Minor League Baseball players as hourly workers (under this designation, many players make less than minimum wage).

Brand’s stance makes sense from the standpoint that, if Major League teams had to pay Minor League players more, they would then seek to pass off a larger portion of their player development costs on to the Minor League affiliates. It’s simple self-preservation. Nonetheless, it can be difficult to reconcile the reality of the situation — players in search of comparatively modest pay increases — with Brand’s assertion that the lawsuit is an “assault” and that those in the industry need to be “grassroots soldiers” against it. Call me naive, but I’d like to think that there’s enough money to go around.

Also during the Opening Session, the Lucas Confectionery wine bar of Troy, New York was awarded the “OnDeck Small Business of the Year Award.” The Lucas Confectionery is owned and operated by Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine, former members of the Tri-City ValleyCats front office, so them receiving an award from Minor League Baseball marked an improbable return to industry approval.


Vic Christopher, 2008 file photo

After the Opening Session, most of the industry went on to the Awards Luncheon. I’d seen enough award-disbursement for the day, so I headed back to my hotel room to do some work, as there is always work to do.

Have I mentioned that the Opryland is the most surreal hotel that I have ever stayed in? This is was the view from my first-floor abode, located in the “Cascades” section of the facility.

The benefits of working in a hotel room.

But I wasn’t in the hotel room for long, as my desire to sit in a conference room had not yet been satiated. Next up was this:

I already made a mention of this in a story that ran at the end of last week. An excerpt:

“[Diversity and inclusion] is the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do,” said panelist Wendy Lewis, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of diversity and strategic alliances.

Lewis’ remark summed up the prevailing sentiment, as a front office that does not reflect the demographics of its market is, in all likelihood, failing to reach as wide a fan base as possible.

“A more diverse and inclusive front office brings broader experience and perspective,” added panelist Chuck Greenberg, who owns three Minor League teams. “It means that we are far more likely to have insights and sensitivities that benefit our communities.”

I had been especially interested to attend this panel after meeting Vince Pierson (and writing about him) earlier this year. He’s doing good things for the industry.

Sessions, speeches and seminars were finally, mercifully, done for the day. It was now time for more writing, and then dinner with co-workers. This marked the only time that I left the Opryland during my four-night stay, but soon enough I was back in the biosphere for another late night of schmoozing and boozing.

The day ended as all days must end: with yet another groundbreaking and subversive joke.

Yeah, man, I hear you.

Winter Meetings Blog Writer Journal, December 6

Last week, I dedicated my little slice of internet infinity to the recollections and reflections of four Winter Meetings job seekers. This week, I’ll provide my own Twitter-centric account of the week that was.

The 2015 Winter Meetings were held at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort, one of the few places I’ve ever been to that fully justifies usage of the word “Brobdingnagian.” I had already attended two Winter Meetings at the Opryland — 2007 and 2012 — so at least I had an idea regarding what to expect. What I expected, and, indeed, what happened, is that I was constantly lost, constantly running into people I knew from within the “industry,” and constantly lamenting the fact that I didn’t break in my new pair of shoes before heading to Nashville. I was like the Curt Schilling of the Winter Meetings, though not as ostentatious.

Due to my procrastination in booking a flight to Nashville, I had to fly out of Newark like some kind of barbarian. Thus, my documentation of the week began with this pithy observation as I made my way to the airport.

Seriously, an automated voice says something along the lines of “We have now arrived at Terminal C, serving U-Netted, U-Netted Express and U-Netted International.” It boggles the mind.

But I arrived in Nashville swiftly and safely, which is all that really matters. A cab driver named Kofi gave me a ride to the Opryland, regaling me all the while with his tales of being a DJ in New York City in the early ’90s. Kofi brought me to the Opryland swiftly and safely and — Bam! — I was suddenly in another world.

To talk about the Opryland is to talk about being lost at the Opryland. There are nine acres in which to roam.

My first order of Winter Meetings’ “Business” was to attend the annual Banquet. Last year I made the mistake of not packing formal clothes for this event (I was the doofus in jeans), but this year I was dressed to moderately impress in slacks and a suit jacket. The Banquet marked the first instance of a strange social dynamic I encounter at the Meetings each year. While I know hundreds of people at the event, and enjoy basking in my quasi-celebrity for a few days, I am generally traveling alone at social events while everyone else is with their “team.” I walked into the Banquet with the strategy that I’d sit with the first person to extend me an invitation. That invite came courtesy of Scott Sailor and his Iowa Cubs cohorts, and to them, I am grateful. I ended up sitting next to I-Cubs broadcaster (and one-time movie star) Randy Wehofer, a consummate pro who I’d love to hear on a Major League broadcast someday soon.

The Banquet was emceed by Cincinnati Reds broadcaster George Grande, host of the first-ever episode of SportsCenter. During his opening remarks Grande had to speak over a large amount of crowd chatter — C’mon, industry, you should have better manners than that — and then brought Commissioner Manfred on stage for an interview.

Soon thereafter, Tri-City ValleyCats owner Bill Gladstone was named 2015’s “King of Baseball.” The King of Baseball wears a crown and a robe, as any king should. These accoutrements are bestowed by Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner.


There has never been a “Queen” of baseball. Someday?

The highlight of the Banquet, however, was when recently retired Minor League home run king Mike Hessman received a “Career Achievement Award.” Hessman was visibly emotional as he took the podium, and paused for a good 15 or 20 seconds before launching into his speech.

I’m not sure if a full video of Hessman’s speech exists, but at least I was able to capture a little bit of it.

As the Banquet was winding down, I departed the premises and hightailed it over to Presidential Ballroom D to meet with this year’s group of Job Seeker Journal writers (their collected experiences can be found HERE). That’s Will Privette in front. Behind him, left to right, is an increasingly fat Ben’s Biz, David Lauterbach, Tori Payne and Jim Angell. Job Seekers - Group with Ben HillThe purpose of my Sunday evening meeting with this fearsome foursome was to record the “before” portion of a “before and after” video chronicling their experience. I’ll link to that at the relevant time.  From there, it was back out and into the Opryland wilderness.

The Opryland has several drinking establishments on the premises, and I got to know these establishments very well during my four nights in Nashville. The late-night Winter Meeetings bar scene is not just fueled by hedonistic impulse; it is an invaluable resource as a place to network and procure information in an informal setting. And, on an egotistical level, it is great to walk into a bar and have so many people know who I am and want to buy me a drink. This has never happened to me in New York City, and probably never will.

The work day never ends, even when the “work” in question is resurrecting my “groundbreaking and subversive joke” franchise. There’s plenty more where this came from.

There’s also plenty more where this came from.

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: David Lauterbach, December 9


Lauterbach_headshotBy David Lauterbach, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his fourth and final installment, David Lauterbach proves me wrong, heads back to college and continues to pursue the metaphorical Nomo. 

I got lost three times yesterday, which put my final total at seven. Since I left Nashville to go back to Syracuse last night, this means that Ben’s “Bet the Over” when I guessed 7 was just short. Big win for me.

Losing wager

Losing wager

Anyway, I didn’t get to Hideo Nomo before the National Anthem, but that’s okay. I didn’t expect to get a job offer at the Winter Meetings, because the nature of broadcasting jobs is that our tapes need to be listened to multiple times and there just isn’t enough time at the Meetings for employers to do that.

Despite not landing a job offer down in Nashville, I did have five interviews and I’m really excited about that. I would be thrilled to be offered any of the jobs I interviewed for. Once again, to respect their privacy, I won’t name the teams I interviewed with. But I will say this: all five are tremendous organizations that I had been keeping my eye on all offseason.

Now, to go back through the day piece-by-piece. It started bright and early at 10:30 a.m. when I moved out of my hotel room and went down to the Job Fair. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t many new jobs and none were broadcast related. Additionally, there weren’t any new interview lists for the jobs that I had applied for. As a result, I walked around the hotel a couple more times just to see who else I would run into.

Near the MLB Network set, Clint Hurdle walked by me while I watched Terry Francona being interviewed by ESPN. I don’t count Francona because he was on air, but I do count Hurdle. So I guess that means my final count was three managers and three executives? I’ve said this multiple times, but the funny thing about the Winter Meetings is that because there are so many big league executives, managers, and baseball people in general walking around, it’s hard to keep track of who you did and didn’t see. For all I know I could’ve been in line behind a manager for pizza yesterday, although I highly doubt it.

After walking around and grabbing some slices, I went over to the Job Fair for one final look. Once again, nothing new. At this point it was 2:15 and time for my “exit video interview” with Ben and the rest of the writers. We answered some questions about our time at the Winter Meetings, which allowed me to reflect on my time in Nashville and how great it was.

I can’t say this enough: If you want to work in baseball and, a year from now, you aren’t at the 2016 Winter Meetings in Washington D.C., then you are making a huge mistake. There is nothing like it in any industry that I know of. If you can think of another industry where everyone comes together for four days in one place, there’s a Job Fair with hundreds of jobs posted, and interviews take place right there, PLEASE let me know. I’d love to break into that industry.

I met a ton of great people, most of whom I don’t remember their names. It was a tremendous trip and one I will never forget. As a result, I’m already looking forward to the 2016 Meetings and finally landing Hideo Nomo’s signature, although next year it may be Eric Gagne instead.

Also, I just felt the need to mention this again because it’s a cause that’s very close to my heart. A hot dog is not a sandwich.

Thanks, David, for establishing a baseball metaphor akin to Ahab and his White Whale. May your travels bring you ever closer to Hideo Nomo.

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: Jim Angell, December 9

Angell_headshotBy Jim Angell, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his fourth and final installment, Jim Angell dishes out the advice, expresses gratitude and waits for what’s next. 

That’s the Ball Game, Here’s the Recap

Over the past three days, I have taken (at times) a whimsical look at the Winter Meetings and my participation in the PBEO Job Fair. Today, I’ll focus on recapping the event for future job seekers and sharing some of the lessons I learned I during my time in Nashville.

There’s a saying around baseball that no matter how much you have been involved in and around the game, it will always teach you something new. First-time attendees need to keep that in mind. You should come ready to learn, willing to interact with a wide range of people, and honest about yourself, your talents and about what you want to do.

The primary thing that first-timers need to understand is that baseball is an industry made up of variously-sized companies (organizations) and suppliers that are in the “business” to win. Whether on the field of play, as is the case for Major League teams, or on the profit side of a balance sheet, the stark reality is that baseball is a business. To be profitable, organizations will do anything to control costs and maximize their ability to put more butts in the seats. Empty seats don’t buy tickets, eat hot dogs, buy t-shirts, or drink beer.

Here are the lessons I learned from my Winter Meeting/Job Fair experience:

  • If you are a prospective job seeker, do go to the Winter Meetings and the Job Fair. As frustrating as the job posting and interview process can be you learn a lot and can meet a ton of people with knowledge about the “business” that you can’t pick up from a website, blog or book.
  • Just because you have a lot of talent or experience, you still may not be what Minor League teams are looking for. Depending on the size of the team, their operation and their market (very important), the pay and talent they are looking for varies greatly. Some teams only offer college credit, while others pay upwards of $1500 a month for an intern. There are very few full-time positions posted.
  • Most of the jobs are seasonal and targeting interns. So, if you’re not willing to relocate on an interim basis (three to nine months, depending on the job role) without the assurance of full-time employment, you best look elsewhere.
  • Just because you’ve been an intern before doesn’t mean that you’ll get another internship or another job in baseball. Just like with on-field talent (the players), you will be competing against a new crop of “kids” each season who are entering the mix and willing to work for the wages being offered. That’s the stark reality of the business.
  • Work the event. That means getting away from the workroom, the interview posting room and the job posting room. Yes, check back from time to time, but don’t set up roots. There’s a whole world of baseball happening at these events and it’s ripe with opportunities. Talk to people. Give them your business card. Listen, listen and do more listening. Baseball people are a gold mine of information.
  • Come with business cards and resumes. (Enough said.)
  • Go to the Winter Meetings Trade Show. You will meet people who are pretty much chained to their booths. They like talking about their companies and, if you are a mid-career free agent like myself, are interested in proven experience. Therefore, they may be looking for the talents you have that can impact their business. I got four job leads from “hitting the bricks” and talking to people at the Trade Show. Don’t skip it.
  • Have fun. Get to know your fellow job seekers. Eat lunch or dinner with them. Hang out at the “watering holes” around the venue. There are a lot of good stories about why they are at the Job Fair, and hearing about their dreams for baseball is wonderful. For instance, I met one former Minor League pitcher who was looking to get into ticket sales for a Minor League team. His playing days were cut short due to two arm surgeries, but he still loved the game and now wanted to be part of the business. I’d hire him.
  • Keep trying. If you didn’t land the position you wanted during the Job Fair, don’t stop trying. Keep “knocking on doors” and sending letters to teams. You never know when you’ll be in the right place at the right time. (Yes, even if you get lost in the Opryland Resort.)

I hope you enjoyed my daily reports as much as I enjoyed writing them. I want to thank Benjamin Hill and for allowing me to share my insights and experiences this year’s Winter Meetings and PBEO Job Fair.

Good luck to all the job seekers out there, and to all the organizations who are working hard every day to improve the game day experience.

Thanks, Jim, for sharing the lessons you learned.

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: Tori Payne, December 9


By Tori Payne, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, her fourth and final installment, Tori Payne solidifies friendships, gains confidence and gets an unexpected free lunch. 


Wow. I cannot believe that this week has come to an end. My new friend Connor described today as akin to “the last few rounds of the MLB draft, when the choices are slim and viewers lose interest.” I’m not saying that the job seekers remaining (including myself) were any less qualified, but everyone seemed to be tired and losing interest in the process. The interview posting room had been stripped and new jobs were not being posted. It was evident that the Meetings were coming to a close, and the job seekers still on the premises knew that last minute impressions were their only opportunity.

On Wednesday, I came in to the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center stoked for my scheduled interview. I had been looking forward to speaking with this team for the past two days, and my nervous energy was turning into eagerness. I received some last-minute interview tips from my new friend Brooke before she headed out to see her new home in North Carolina (she got a job with the Greensboro Grasshoppers), and then waited for my first and only time in the interview room.

While biding my time, a woman stopped by and asked the waiting interviewees if we were “getting a job today?” I noticed her tag had the name of the team I was about to interview with. Too many times during this process I had been too afraid to speak up to people of interest, so I smiled and said, “Hopefully! I am about to interview with your team, actually.” Her game face came on, and she began questioning me on the spot about my goals and experience. I liked it. I love being challenged, and this impromptu conversation readied me for my interview with her other two employees. It went great.  Both men seemed interested in my experience and answered my questions with humor and honesty.

After my interview, the group of people that I have been hanging around with – a group of people that I now call friends – went to one last lunch together. While at a sports bar in the Center, we were watching ESPN and MLB Network detail the Winter Meetings that we were attending. After ordering the food, a man I recognized from the television approached our table. He smiled and said, “You guys don’t eat much but I paid for your food. It is all free! Enjoy!” It was Harold Reynolds. The retired MLB second baseman and current TV analyst had noticed our group of young job seekers and casually decided to make our day by paying for our lunch. That was special.

After lunch, I met up with Ben and the other Job Seeker Journal writers one more time, bringing our excursion to an end. As I was about to do my exit video interview (again, it is probably embarrassing so no judgment), I got a call from the team I interviewed with and they wanted to run some things by me in the interview room. When I went back, they introduced me to another employee and expressed interest in me. While I did not receive the official offer, they did want me to begin thinking about the money and moving situations and if that were something I would consider. They also mentioned a possible stadium visit. I cannot adequately express to you how amazing I felt in that moment.

So much came out of the Winter Meetings that I am incredibly thankful for. Not only did I receive interest from one team, but I was also called later in the day to schedule an interview with another team tomorrow (even though the Winter Meetings have concluded). I had the awesome opportunity to receive guidance from Ben Hill, and got to express myself along with the other Job Seeker Journal writers (all of whom will do great things in baseball, I’m sure of it). I was able to network with old and new connections. And, most importantly, I made some great friends who share my passion for baseball. Thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to work in the music and sports industry. While they are both entertaining, I gravitate to the sports and baseball industry more. This week I realized why: Even though it is competitive, it is not a cutthroat industry. People of success also want you to succeed. Professionals are willing to give you tips and your colleagues are willing to celebrate with you when you triumph. If the 2015 Winter Meetings were in any way a glimpse into the future of baseball, I can tell you personally that the industry is in good hands.

Thanks, Tori, for providing such a heartfelt and observant take on your Winter Meetings experience.


Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: Will Privette, December 9


Privette_headshotBy Will Privette, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his fourth and final installment, Will Privette says good bye to Nashville and looks forward to what the future may bring. 

Today Is Not the End. It’s Just the Beginning

It’s been a fun ride, Nashville. On Wednesday morning I met with one last team about an internship and then — Boom! — all of the interviews were over and it was time to “relax,” (a.k.a. “go network and people-watch”). Today seemed a little bit less crowded than Tuesday. Some people even had flights leaving in the evening so I assume that was a contributing factor as to why it seemed calmer. One cool thing that happened was running into some of the first-year job seekers that I wrote about the other day. Some of them had secured a job, which was great, and one of them thanked me for the advice I gave him. He took the advice and was able to get in touch with a team and send his information over. It goes to show that you cannot be afraid to approach or email someone because that email might be the first step toward your new job.

After hanging around and talking to more people I headed back up to the room to eat dinner. (It may or may not have been the kids menu chicken tenders again.) Then I went back downstairs to meet up with some family friends and caught up with them. The area I was in was way less crowded than the night before. I can only assume that everyone is exhausted, asleep and ready to fly out early Thursday.

What’s next for me? Going into the Winter Meetings I knew that I wouldn’t come home with a job in hand, and that’s perfectly fine. That’s just the nature of the positions I interviewed for. I will know where my baseball future leads me by early 2016. (I didn’t get my previous internships until the second week of January.) That is probably the worst part of the whole ordeal, the waiting. I am used to it by now, but it would be nice to have something locked in sooner so you don’t spend countless hours wondering what might happen. I am talking to four teams and possibly have one or two more irons in the fire, so I will be very excited to announce via Twitter where the Thrill will end up for the 2016 baseball season. I want to thank you all for reading this blog. I hope I could give you a little insight as to how massive of an event the Winter Meetings really is. I appreciate you taking the time to read our journals and keep up and cheering for us as we tried to conquer the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Enjoy the rest of your off-season and I hope to see everyone next year at the 2016 Winter Meetings in Washington, D.C.!  Until then… ~Thrill Out

And with that, the Thrill is gone. Thank you, Will, and good luck.

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: David Lauterbach, December 8


Lauterbach_headshotBy David Lauterbach, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his third installment, David Lauterbach finds his way, continues his metaphor and keeps searching for the light.  

I didn’t get lost yesterday, so that’s nice. I think my count now stands at four, which means that Ben’s “Bet the Over” may be a little too high.

So, Hideo Nomo. Great pitcher. I’ve been using him as my metaphor for trying to get a job this week. The metaphor is that me wiggling my way through the crowd to try and land a job is similar to how I tried to get Nomo’s autograph when I was eight at Dodger Stadium. It’s all about navigating the chaos.

The job search itself has gone well, but I still haven’t reached the light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to secure three job interviews yesterday and, so far, two more today. They have all gone well thus far. With respect to the teams, I’m not going to disclose who I’ve interviewed with, but I will say they have been great. Now I need to “knock on wood,” because baseball has made me extremely superstitious.

In between all of the interviews, I spent some time talking more to other job seekers that want to do broadcasting and baseball operations. It’s been really fun getting to know men and women both older and younger than me who, just like me, want to work in the big leagues. I said this in my first post and I’ll say it again: Attending the Winter Meetings is the best thing you can do if you want to work in baseball. Everyone is here in one building and you never get an opportunity like that in any sport and, really, any industry.

Also when I say everyone, I mean everyone. In yesterday’s post I said I had seen a GM and a manager, but might not see another for the rest of my time here. Well, yesterday I saw two more managers and two more GMs (and, once again, me standing by the MLB Network set while Buck Showalter was on doesn’t count).

The ability to walk through the hotel and strike up a conversation with an executive from this MLB team or a GM from that minor league team is second to none. The Winter Meetings are incredible, and the place to be if you want to work in baseball.

I also spent some time hanging out around the TV sets, where I accidentally made it on TV. (Okay, it wasn’t an accident. I tried to, because why not?) Another highlight was walking through the Trade Show. I got lost in there once, so Ben, if that counts, my number is now at five. (Ed note: It doesn’t.) At the Trade Show they had everything from a machine that cleans baseballs to specialty jerseys to even a Dip N Dots station that was handing out free samples. The Trade Show is neat because anyone who is attending the event, whether you are a job seeker or buyer, can attend. It’s a great place to see where different companies sell their products to both major and minor league teams.

Due to this being my last full day in Nashville, I’ll finish this one now and have it be shorter than the rest. I think I see Nomo, but the organ pipes are warming up and the anthem starts soon. In the words of Jay Bilas, I gotta go to work.

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: Tori Payne, December 8


By Tori Payne, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, her third installment, Tori Payne jumps the gun, gets a confidence boost and celebrates success.  

Remember when I was so excited to see my name on the interview sheet? Well, I obviously was so excited that I misread the date of my interview. It was for Wednesday, not Tuesday. When I arrived at the PBEO Job Fair this morning, I was ready to go for my interview at 11 a.m. I even ran into Lara Juras and Vincent Pierson, two of the professionals I have been connecting with since the Diversity Symposium, and expressed my excitement. Then, I walked into the interview sheet room to check who I was interviewing with, and BAM! Right place, wrong day.

Although I was understandably bummed, I still wanted to make the most of the day. Because the rate of jobs and interviews being posted was very slow, I decided to take a walk around and see if I recognized anyone. The Opryland Convention Center is extremely large – I honestly have gotten lost at least five times – but somehow I still saw Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin talking with someone from a distance. It was nice to see a familiar face among the eager crowd. Afterwards, Brooke, whom I had met the day before, asked me to go to the Trade Show with her again. She introduced me to the coolest company, Baseball Lacelets. The wife of a baseball player in the Red Sox organization and her cousin take the old laces out of gloves and recreate them into a branded or personalized bracelet. As a souvenir, I bought one with the quote, “You’re killin’ me Smalls.” It’s a baseball classic.

Around 2:00, I began to get discouraged. I understand that everyone has worked hard and has the passion for baseball, but it is still tough to see your hard work and passion be overlooked while others are receiving multiple interviews a day. Right when I was about to leave for the day, a professional from a team in the California League approached me. I had bumped into him yesterday, and he had asked for my resume. I didn’t think I was qualified for the job because of my graduation date, but I handed it over anyway. He asked me to meet him at 4:00, and I gladly obliged. Our meeting was incredible. I was able to explain my skills and experience and he described the learning environment and job opportunities that I desire. After our conversation, my confidence surfaced. No matter what ends up happening, I know that my skill set can be – and one day soon hopefully will be – appreciated by a baseball club.

After the day, some new friends and I planned to go to dinner in Nashville and I was designated as tour guide. However, as Brooke and I were driving into the city, she got THE call: the Greensboro Grasshoppers were hiring her. I’ve never been a part of a moment like that, but it was an indelible experience to watch someone reach their dreams. Time got away from us and we accidentally missed dinner with friends, but we still celebrated with jalapeno margaritas, queso and tacos.

What was the highlight of my day, you wonder? Other than the surprise interview, it was seeing Joe Girardi. Twice. He looked a little lost, and I don’t know my way around the building so I couldn’t help, but I still gawked just a little. I pulled myself together in time for his entourage to pass the second time, but it was a pretty neat experience. It’s not every day you see baseball legends in the flesh.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of Tori’s Nashville adventures. Will she get a job? See another baseball legend in the flesh? Enjoy another jalapeno margarita? All will be revealed.

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: Jim Angell, December 8

Angell_headshotBy Jim Angell, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his third installment, Jim Angell investigates trends, plays the waiting game and meets Opryland angels.

Comfortable Shoes and Unexpected Angels


It’s true, people seldom look at your feet. If they do, they don’t remember what you were wearing. So, what do you do when you hang out in the interview posting room at the PBEO job fair? You watch feet. More precisely, the flow of job seekers as they scan the tack boards for their targeted jobs.

See, the tack boards are big enough to cut most people off at just about the knees. Thus, all you are left to notice are legs and feet. Simply fascinating if you’re interested in the fluid dynamics of crowds. I am not (well, sort of), but I do spot trends and today I noticed the trend to more comfortable shoes.

You really can’t blame the job seekers for seeking refuge for their tired toes and heels heading into the third day of the Job Fair. One, it’s a hike to get to the posting, work, and interviewing rooms. Two, there’s just a ton of walking to get anywhere in the Opryland Resort.

Pardon me for one digression: I met a lady today wearing workout clothes and commented to her that she was wearing the right stuff for getting around the resort. She agreed but asked if I knew the way to the gym. She was lost. (What a shocker!) After telling her that I was no help there, she scurried off in search of better fitness.

Okay, back to feet.

The trend in footwear today has begun to slide to the comfy side. Fewer high heels, more flats. (I raised two girls, so I know the lingo, boys). More casual men’s shoes and even a tennis shoe sighting was noted. There were suits and interview garb, but the look was definitely in decline.

As comfortable became vogue, the interviews ramped up as groups of job seekers waited nervously outside the interview rooms for their call to an appointed table. As for me and a handful of prospective hires, we hunkered down in the interview posting room wondering why the jobs we supplied resumes for were not interviewing yet.

According to one returning job hunter, some of the teams may not get around to interviews during the Winter Meetings. It depends on how busy they are. Makes sense…business first. So we shouldn’t be surprised that there may not be a face-to-face meeting in Nashville. Patience is key here but it does make for some long days not knowing when the interviews will be.

Today finished up a little early as interview posting quickly tapered off, sending all of us out of the convention center happy to know that we could finally kick off our shoes and put up our feet.

Here’s a tip to all of the future job seekers out there who are thinking about coming to the next Winter Meetings: You never know when you’ll meet angels who will be willing to help you in your job search.

It happened on my way out of the resort today, when I offered to help two women who were lost (it’s a trend). As we talked about the trials of traveling the Opryland trails, they asked why I was here. I told them that I was looking for a job after being cut just over a month ago.

They sympathized and began offering up suggestions about jobs in Major League baseball that I hadn’t thought about. They said you just have to get in. Then, as you get to know people and they know you, you can move around.

I asked what they did. One was married to a vice president of communications for a MLB team and the other was married to a gentleman in MLB. When they asked if I had a business card, I was floored. Me. They wanted to help me. Wow.

So, never say never folks. Angels do exist and they are everywhere at the MLB Winter Meetings.

I love how my days here are ending.

Will Jim feel the thrill of victory tomorrow? Or the agony of da feet? Stay tuned tomorrow.

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: Will Privette, December 8


Privette_headshotBy Will Privette, special to

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his third installment, Will Privette hangs out in the lobby, gets mistaken for hotel staff and extols his networking skills.

Do You Work Here? 

Today I woke up with a mission. Through the first two days of the Winter Meetings I hadn’t really seen the people that I try to catch up with every year, so with no interviews in place I decided that I would spend the afternoon people watching. The hope was that I would see everyone I wanted and needed to see. Mission successful. Throughout the day I was able to run into almost every person that I wanted to see and got to meet some new people as well. Many people would ask what I was doing there and I told them I was searching for a job, etc.

One funny thing of note is that today I was wearing a dark suit with a vest that had a red/burgundy back. Apparently, that’s what people who work at the Gaylord Opryland hotel wear because two different people came up to me asking if I worked at the hotel. They both wanted directions. One lost person asked “Do you work here?” I was quite confused, and replied “As in do I work in baseball?” I guess they were that desperate or I looked that official. (I’m banking on the latter.) After hanging around for way too many hours I headed back to my room for a bit, to regroup and make a wardrobe change into more casual evening attire (button down and dress pants, no tie or vest).

Close to 9 p.m., I headed back downstairs and went to the hotel’s Cascade area to see if people were there and it was PACKED! That was the place to be at night. I ran into all my bosses and front office personnel from my time with the Braves and Indians and caught up with them. Hanging out and watching the hoards of people come through was entertainment in and of itself. Before I went back to my room I ran into two people in particular that capped off a great night. One, I was expecting to be at the Winter Meetings, while the other was a very nice surprise.

In the lobby I saw people posing for pictures with former manager and general manager Jack Mckeon. I met Mr. McKeon back in 2004 and have stayed in touch with him ever since. He saw me while he was taking pictures, walked over and said hello. For 85, he has never looked better. He is one of my favorite baseball people I’ve encountered. The second person I ran into was my former pitching coach when I worked for NC State’s baseball team, Tom Holliday. I hadn’t seen him since I graduated in 2013 (the year NC State when to the College World Series) so it was very fun to talk to him and catch up on what I’ve done since I worked for NC State.

In yesterday’s post I gave a little bit of advice for readers, so I want to try and give a little more. Yes, you may come all the way to the Winter Meetings and leave empty-handed, but you can always network. Whenever I’m not interviewing, I am networking with people. Do not be shy about going up to people and talking to them. You don’t want to be invasive, but there is a certain way to go about it where you can come off as nice and impressionable. I always talk to people, and even if I don’t know them I try and make a connection. Maybe we have a mutual friend or former coworker. People enjoy stories and like to hear when you know someone that they know. So Will’s Words of Wisdom for today is do not be scared to approach people and network and market yourself. You’re there at the Winter Meetings to get a job and they aren’t going to come to you, so you have to make yourself available and show what you can bring to the table. And a little luck never hurts. ~Thrill

Stay tuned tomorrow for Will’s final update from Nashville.


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