Results tagged ‘ Winter Meetings ’
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE). In this installment, Meredith Perri (@meredithperri) lands her first interviews amid a barrage of hotel lobby networking.
I honestly did not know what to expect when I got to the Swan on Tuesday, but by the end of the day, it seemed like one phrase accurately depicted my experience from start to finish: organized chaos.
Now, that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just what happens when a few hundred job seekers sit in one room anxiously waiting for someone to post a new position or an interview schedule on one of the boards.
I made my way over to the job posting room at 8:30, forgetting that the area didn’t open until 9:00. I wasn’t the only one. Fellow job seekers were scattered throughout the hallways as they waited to see the results from the previous night’s bombardment of the job posting room. When the it opened up, I didn’t see anything, but that was fine. I had worked out my schedule so I would have something to do other than play the wait-and-see game.
Before coming out to the Winter Meetings, I got in touch with a few people that I knew from Twitter, Boston University or SportsNet New York. I’m lucky that my supervisor from when I interned at SNY not only encouraged me to come to the meetings, but also got me involved with the outlet’s online coverage. So, once I didn’t see any new teams to apply to, I made my way back to the Dolphin and picked up my media credential.
I was just about to head back to the Swan to scan the postings again when one of my friends told me that I had an interview. I hustled to the other hotel, signed up for a time in the early evening and did another walk through before going back to the Dolphin to meet up with a beat reporter that I reached out to on Twitter.
During one of my trips to check the latest postings, I ran into [fellow journal writer] Kasey [Decker] in the hallway. We could not have had better timing. As we went from basic introductions to how our experiences were so far, I received a text from a general manger asking if I was near the PBEO area and if I had time to meet with him. Within the next hour I had completed my first interview and felt a lot better about the entire process. A few hours later, I had my second interview, and was even more encouraged.
I found Kasey and a few people she had introduced me to after my interview, and I learned quickly that having a group of people to battle through the now-swamped lobby was a good thing. I stayed with them until a BU alum and beat reporter who has been incredibly helpful during my job hunt was free to chat. Over the course of the next two-plus hours he introduced me to a dozen or so people from different media outlets and beyond.
The evening could not have turned out better.
Now it’s time to pack my bags and head to my final day at the meetings. I have one more interview this morning and hopefully a few more people to speak with before I leave. Maybe it was the organized chaos, but I cannot believe how short my time in Florida was. Regardless, I have one more day, and I’m ready to go.
Note: Meredith is returning to school on Wednesday in order to take her final exams. The other three journal writers will remain in Orlando until Thursday. Check back tomorrow for Meredith’s final entry of the week.
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE). In this installment, Kasey Decker arrives in Orlando older, wiser, and ready to launch the next phase of her career.
I’m not going to lie to you: I had really high expectations for the first day of Winter Meetings. The last time I was in Orlando, I was that bright-eyed job seeker, weeks from my college graduation, and eager to please. I arrived a day early to Orlando so I could get my bearings and be my best self for the “first day of the rest of my life.” I hung on every word each individual speaker gave us and took notes like I was preparing for a final exam. My experience this year has, so far, been the polar opposite.
Being that I’ve now been “financially independent” for the past three years, I had to budget a little more carefully for my trip down here. Knowing that you do more networking in after-hours situations, I decided to save money by flying in early Sunday morning instead of Saturday. I would come to regret the decision to fly out at 6:30 am — you live, you learn.
Coming into the Business of Baseball seminar having sat through one already was also a new experience. First, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders president Rob Crain was also the host for my last seminar, so I had a hint of what I was in for. I also noticed more this time that every speaker harps on having been “right where you are” which is encouraging but frustrating for someone in my position. I have also been sitting in these seats before; I’ve heard all of the things you have to say; yet here I am in this very same seat again.
It’s not all negative; I realize this all sounds a little jaded. I have had the chance to network at the bar, catch up with colleagues I haven’t seen in a while, and take in the incredible event that is the Baseball Winter Meetings. I’ve even had job seekers ask me for advice once they realize I have been here before.
The advice and information given by Atlanta Braves director of human resources Lara Juras and Pawtucket Red Sox general sales manager Cookie Rojas during the Business of Baseball Seminar stood out the most to me. I realize that I may have a little bias, since Lara has helped me in my career, but she spoke to being self confident but not cocky. It is important to know yourself but also be aware of how others perceive you. Cookie focused on why his job was great and how “businesses that do good, do well.” Minor League Baseball as a whole focuses a lot of resources and energy on giving back to the community, and it reminded me that I’m here for all of the right reasons.
All in all, I would call day one of the Winter Meetings a success. I’ve even added “attending the Business of Baseball Workshop in a speaking capacity” to my 10-year plan. I’m looking forward to what tomorrow has to bring with interviews and more networking!
Kasey will be providing her “veteran” perspective throughout the week, as will her three fellow job-seeking journalers. This serialized saga has just begun!
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE). In this installment, Ian Fontenot maintains some semblance of self-awareness amid a most over-stimulating environment.
Sunday marks the opening day of the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings, or as emcee Rob Crain put it, “the first day of the rest of our lives”. Crain, the president of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, was nothing short of an outstanding host, seamlessly transitioning from speaker to speaker while keeping the 300-plus member crowd alert. I don’t think I’ve ever kept my attention on something as long as I did for the Business of Baseball Workshop. I fully anticipated being too eager to really grasp everything our speakers were saying, but it was quite the contrary. From the very beginning, Crain grabbed our attention with a story of his first Winter Meetings experience which involved a late night with his future wife, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and David Wells’ phone number. Immediately, you could tell Crain was a relatable person as this was a story you’d expect to hear from a friend rather than a Triple-A club president. He also touched on something I hope to find here in Orlando: finding a mentor.
Our first speaker Baseball America’s Minor League Executive of the Year and Louisiana native (represent!), Martie Cordaro of the Omaha Storm Chasers. Cordaro brought up many subjects, such as things to ask potential employers and something I’ve studied for the past four years — building mutually beneficial relationships. The rest of the day was filled with speakers reminding us of the importance of networking, hard work, passion and taking risks. Aside from the afternoon panel discussion, which required interaction from the audience, MLB international baseball operations manager Giovanni Hernandez easily drew the most interest from attendees. I assume that was because lots of people, like myself, are chasing the dream of one day working in baseball operations and player development. The one speaker who touched home for me was Minor League Baseball president & CEO Pat O’Conner. The story of his dad’s reaction to his phone call about taking a low-paying internship in Vero Beach, Florida after graduation is basically how I see people reacting when I tell them how much money I expect to make after coming out of college with two degrees. I think it’s safe to say that O’Conner’s decision was ultimately a great choice. That being said, the most wildly entertaining speaker came last in Richmond Flying Squirrels vice president & COO Todd “Parney” Parnell. I think anyone in attendance can attest for how raw, yet passionate, Parney was. I could only hope to work for someone as fun as Parney. However, as informational as the day was, I was all too ready to see what possibilities this week had in store. I may have appeared calm on the outside, but inside, I felt like I was running in place, and as we were bombarded with information, my anxiety raced even faster.
Immediately following the speakers was the main attraction for most, the opening of the Job Postings Room. The picture I painted in my head was one of chaos and savage fighting to get to each posting, but it was actually quite calm aside from two guys getting very testy with each other over the fact that one of them was taking pictures of the postings, which was supposed to be forbidden. As much research as I’ve done, I honestly didn’t know what to expect as far as job availability. In all, I submitted my resume for 14 communications-related positions. And the waiting begins.
As the first night approached, I did the networking-responsible thing and hit the bars (which are not job seeker-friendly on the wallet). I was lucky enough to have a friend who interned with me in Vermont, Dave Van Gorder, attend the Meetings as well. This made my situation a tad bit more comfortable as we connected with several fellow job seekers, including one who was over 50 and had little to his name in the baseball world aside from passion. Apart from the networking, I have to admit that the highlight of my night was being only two feet away from Jim Leyland, who was visiting with new Detroit manager Brad Ausmus and members of the MLB Network staff. I had to fight the urge to introduce myself and/or ask for a picture, but I knew it wasn’t the right moment; I guess we’ll call that “self-awareness.” Hopefully Monday will bring more intriguing job postings and a few interviews, but I am looking most forward to reconnecting with my family from the Vermont Lake Monsters!
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE). In this installment, Meredith Perri re-connects with former co-workers and learns what it means to “work” in baseball.
About 12 hours after I first stepped into the Dolphin Resort, I stood in the lobby and looked on as Ron Darling finished taping a show for MLB Network. He had walked by me a few minutes earlier, and it became my goal to talk to him before I left for the night. I had met him once while interning for SportsNet New York, and while I figured he didn’t remember me, it seemed like a decent way to start up a conversation.
After the show wrapped, I walked over to where Darling stood signing autographs and practiced my introduction in my head. A few moments later, he walked over to me, smiled and shook my hand as I told him my name and about my time at SNY. He wished me luck with my job search and both of us went on our merry ways.
Now, why would I start off my first journal entry with this anecdote? It actually has little to do with talking to Darling, although that was one of the highlights of my first day at the Winter Meetings. As I waited to speak with Darling, a fan made the comment to him that the next few days would probably be very busy. Darling smiled a bit and agreed, but responded that when it’s baseball it isn’t really work.
I’ve heard writers and other industry professionals make similar statements before, but Darling’s comment perfectly articulated the main thing that I took out of the Business of Baseball Workshop – if you’re passionate about something, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a job.
So, now back to 12 hours earlier when I made my way into the ballroom for the seminar.
After reading last year’s journal entries, I knew what to expect when I got to the workshop. That doesn’t mean, though, that I wasn’t thrilled to see a familiar face as one of the broadcasters from the Cape Cod Baseball League, Justin Rocke, also made the trip down to Florida.
The two of us sat together as speaker after speaker made sure that every person in attendance understood that working in the baseball industry is not easy. Of course, each one of them had their own entertaining way of explaining this.
No matter what the speaker talked about, though, they all eventually told a story about their experience either at the Winter Meetings or working for a team. Some of them were inspiring, like Pawtucket Red Sox general sales manager Cookie Rojas’ photo story of why he has the coolest job. Others sounded more like war stories as speakers detailed their attempts to get ice off of tarps and mishaps during on-field promotions.
Even the more harrowing – although thoroughly entertaining – stories, though, made me think about the passion it takes to work a job where, to quote Todd “Parney” Parnell, the Vice President and COO of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, you work “25 hours a day, 8 days a week, 13 months a year.”
Baseball is a business, and that, clearly, was the main focus of today’s seminar. At the same time, though, it takes a certain kind of person to find joy in this type of non-stop lifestyle.
Like many of the other job seekers, I’ve put in a lot of hours at internships and miscellaneous jobs to get here. Those stories only encouraged me even more to get into the business. Now it’s time to see where my passion and those previous experiences will take me.
Check back tomorrow — and throughout the week — for much more from Meredith and her three fellow job-seeking journalers.
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE). In this installment, Alex Reiner arrives in Orlando and begins to weigh his options.
And so it begins…
My situation is a little different than most other job seekers here. I’m a college baseball player at a small NCAA Division II school called Lynn University. As a 20-year-old junior in college, the number one goal on my agenda right now is to get good grades in school, and to play baseball. I really think it’s a blessing that I get to wake up every day and spend hours on the field. It’s a luxury not many people have. The only thing I do know is that one day, that luxury will end. It could be tomorrow, it could be after I graduate, or it could be in fifteen years.
I’d be lying if I didn’t reveal that I have been to the Winter Meetings once before. I was a freshman in college, and I imagined the Winter Meetings as a place where all of baseball’s top executives came together and literately broke it down in the lobby of the hotel, throwing trade offers at each other and signing free agents on the spot. Just imagine if you were a chocolate lover, and you walked in to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Now switch all the chocolate with baseballs, and you are looking inside my brain circa freshman year. When I arrived to the Winter Meetings in Dallas two years ago, I was in for a rude awakening. Although teams did make trades, and free agents were signed, I didn’t have the box seat behind home plate that I expected. I wasn’t necessarily disappointed in my experience, but after finding out my university wouldn’t accept any internships I did as college credit until I was at least a sophomore, I felt discouraged to say the least. I left Dallas hungry, ready to come back when the time was right.
So here I am, two years later. After a three-hour drive up from Boca Raton, I headed in to the Dolphin Resort and I found a quiet room and did three hours of homework. Not exactly the most exciting start to what I like to think is a promising week, but I’m here and my exams are taking place back at Lynn, and it’s hard to be in two places at once. I have four exams and three essays to finish before Wednesday night. So if you ever want to find me, I’ll probably sitting at a table alone behind the Lynn University booth in the Trade Show doing one of those seven assignments. I figure since I can’t drink anyway, it would keep me out of any awkward situations where I’m at a bar trying to network, and some baseball executive starts talking to me and offers me a drink and I say “Uhhh, iced tea please?”
The excitement was killing me. After taking about three hours to write two-and-a-half pages of a seven-page paper, I headed over to the Swan Resort for the Job Fair about forty-five minutes early, and I sat outside and simply waited. I started thinking about how I feel that all aspects of running a baseball team are important, but I wasn’t going to just throw around my resume like free lollipops at a doctor’s office. I planned my attack: look for internships (obviously), specifically involving baseball operations or talent evaluation. I understand the importance of getting your foot in the door, but I don’t want to end up with an internship that I won’t enjoy. My dream internship would probably be to shadow a GM of a Major League club over the summer, but as far as I’m concerned that type of position isn’t offered here. I can’t do a year round or six-month position, because I need to be back at school and honor my commitment to the baseball team. This limited my selections. Usually I spend the summer playing summer ball, trying to sharpen my baseball skills. But this summer, I plan to try and balance both and internship while also playing summer ball. After reviewing the postings for about thirty minutes, I found one internship that interested me. I dropped my resume in the box, and left the job fair ecstatic that I just applied for my first ever position in the “baseball world.” I started walking down the hall from the Swan Resort over to the lobby of the Dolphin Resort. As sat down in the lobby to just take in the atmosphere, I remembered I was in the middle of an essay and I had five more pages to write.
There will be much more to come from Alex — and all of our job-seekers — throughout the week! Check back early, and check back often.
Throughout the 2012 Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair kept a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE). This endeavor will be repeated at this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando; 2013′s four Job Seekers will be introduced in an MiLB.com feature on Friday and then chronicle their experience throughout the next week (and, perhaps, beyond).
But first, an update from one of 2012′s quartet. Clint Belau recently got in touch with this guest post, in which he writes about his first season season working in professional baseball (as a stadium operations intern for the Albuquerque Isotopes). Last year I described Clint as “irrepressibly optimistic” — as you’ll soon see, those words continue to be a good descriptor of his life outlook.
When last we left off, I was a 35-year-old former musician, set to begin an eight month internship in a place I’ve never been, for an organization I was completely unfamiliar with, on a journey to pursue a career path I was hoping would be the one I could honestly attest to loving. Wow, when I put it that way, it sounds ultra-promising!
However, if you know anything about me (which most of you don’t, but for the sake of this sentence, I’d ask that you pretend to), you know that I’m not deterred by less than favorable odds. But realistically, what did I think would happen? That I would come to Albuquerque, immediately get along with every person in the organization, truly love every minute of the season (yes, even the 7:00 a.m. hot dog rolling sessions…I’m a sucker for assembly line situations), and develop such fantastic relationships with game day staff, fans and vendors that, after a 16 hour “work” day, I’d voluntarily stay longer simply because I enjoy the environment so much? That I would work hard enough that the organization would feel comfortable offering me a full time job that I’m mildly qualified for, and perhaps most importantly, I would spend a small portion of every single day smiling uncontrollably like a lunatic as I ponder my good fortune? Yeah, let me know how that works out pal.
Well, that’s exactly how it turned out. I spent the season as a stadium operations intern. Did I treat it like an internship? Absolutely not. From the second I set foot in that stadium, I made it my mission to weave myself into the fabric of the organization, to show them how much I wanted to be a part of it, to do everything and anything I could to represent the organization in a positive manner, to contribute to creating a valuable environment in which fans could experience everything this incredible game has to offer, and to do it all while exuding a contagious amount of joy. Alright, now I’m just starting to sound weird, but you get where I’m going with this. As a general statement, things are going well.
So now I’ll attempt to bring this all back to the point of Mr. Hill’s experiment: to take four people who are trying to kickstart their respective careers in baseball by attending the PBEO Job Fair, follow them through their week, and see where it takes them. If I have some sort of semi-educated advice for job seekers, it would be to, above all else, stay positive. You’re about to enter(or have already entered) a world of extreme competition. If you’re not passionate about it, I suggest you do something else. This world will require much more than you probably think it will. This isn’t a career that you leave at your desk after eight hours. If you do not truly love it, you will most likely grow to resent it. All of those statements are examples of what you’re about to hear when you attend the Winter Meetings, and more specifically, the Business of Baseball workshop. I know because I heard them less than a year ago. As I listened to them, I thought “it seems like they’re trying to scare us out of the industry.” In fact, it’s not a scare tactic, it’s a proper warning. However, if you’re really as passionate about baseball as you think you are, it will be an incredibly rewarding experience. For me, to be able to spend every day at the ballpark, to be surrounded by the game, to see families sharing the experience of it all, to witness the smile on a child’s face when they catch a foul ball, to know that on any given game day, you have the opportunity to help someone appreciate the game you love so much in a whole new way…that cannot be beat. I’m happy to say that a year later, I truly love being in baseball even more than my “irrepressibly optimistic” personality believed I could.
The value of attending the PBEO Job Fair is based on opening your eyes to what you’re dealing with. The advice from seasoned veterans comes at you fast and furious. The employment opportunities are high in volume, yet seemingly low in comparison to the amount of potential applicants. I can be extremely wordy at times, but if I’m boiling it down to a three word bit of advice that I’ve received numerous times from a good friend of mine, it would be this…do your best.
And there you have it, straight from the operations intern-turned-assistant director of field operations’ mouth. 2013′s series of Job Seeking Journal posts will begin on Monday, as will myriad other dispatches, Tweets, and Vine videos from Orlando’s Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. In short, it’ll be another year of unparalleled Winter Meetings coverage. (And, yes, it truly is unparalleled — no one else provides such in-depth accounts of the non-Hot Stove perspective!)
The Winter Meetings are next week — Monday, December 9 through Thursday, December 12 to be exact — and, as such, I’ve got the Winter Meetings on my brain.
Also, as of yesterday, I’ve got the Winter Meetings on my phone. This year, for the first time ever, baseball’s premier industry confab is coming equipped with its own app. It is free to download, and available via Apple and Google Play (search “Winter Meetings”).
The Winter Meetings app is courtesy of the Professional Baseball Promotions Corp, a subsidiary of Minor League Baseball. (Minor League Baseball is headquartered in St. Petersburg, as you may recall.) Anyone who has attended the Winter Meetings knows that they are a sprawling, multi-faceted, and altogether overwhelming affair, and the purpose of the app is simply to help attendees make sense of it all (to the extent that that is possible).
Steve Densa, executive director of communications for Minor League Baseball, writes that the app has many features that should come in handy. Highlights include a list of Trade Show exhibitors that functions as a “walking Buyer’s Guide,” detailed maps of each hotel so that attendees can locate meeting rooms, a “full schedule which shows every main event/meeting by day,” and, finally, the ability to share schedules, comments, and contact info with fellow attendees.
Perhaps these screenshots will help to elucidate the information contained in the above paragraph.
If you desire, you can enter your personal info so that it is accessible to other attendees. Consider me accessible (as well as overly precious and perhaps not as protective of my privacy as I should be).
As with last year, much of my Winter Meetings content will be centered around the “Job Seeker Journals.” Four individuals have been selected, and they will be introduced in an MiLB.com feature on Friday. But, I cannot stress this enough, I am always looking to meet new people, because new people lead to new story ideas and what is this job if not a vehicle for story creation? Individuals that I am looking to meet include (but are not limited to) job seekers, trade show exhibitors, front office denizens, high-ranking execs, media moguls looking to capitalize on the most underrated niche in all of sports journalism, and, of course, veteran scribes waiting for the perfect moment to acknowledge the existence (and awesomeness) of my long-running Crooked Numbers column.
Oh, and even if you won’t be at the Meetings: what kind of coverage would you most like to see? And does anybody know of any good gluten-free places in the Orlando area? Man cannot live on Kind bars and popcorn alone.
I will return to “Return to the Road” content momentarily, but today I want to deal with a more pressing concern: The Winter Meetings are almost upon us! This year’s event hearkens all the way back to those long-ago days of 2010, as it will be held in the (usually but not always) sunny environs of Orlando, FL:
I’ve always enjoyed covering the Winter Meetings, as I’m just about the only journalist who doesn’t care about free agent and trade proposal rumor mongering and reportage. I focus on what is in actuality the main business at hand: the entirety of the baseball industry coming together in order to share successful operating practices (the Bob Freitas Business Seminar), shop for promotional items and stadium improvements (the Trade Show), and hire new staff members (the PBEO Job Fair).
It is that last item that I wish to focus on at the moment — the Job Fair. As you may recall, last year I recruited four job seekers to chronicle their Winter Meeting experiences as they hustled their way toward potential baseball industry employment. You may remember them:
Are you planning on attending the 2013 Winter Meetings in a job seeking capacity? Would you like to chronicle your efforts for this blog and MiLB.com, therefore giving you invaluable publicity while demonstrating your verve, talent, drive, moxie, chutzpah and, of course, writing skills? Then simply send me an email – email@example.com – and within the contents of said email please provide your age, alma mater (if applicable), birthplace, and current place of residence. Then, please provide brief answers to the following questions (and please do so by Sunday, December 1).
– Do you have prior sports industry experience? If so, what?
– Why do you want to work in the world of baseball?
– Why should you be selected as one of the job-seeking journalers?
– What is one completely and totally random fact about you?
Among those who apply, four job seekers will be selected to write about their experiences (three posts during the Meetings, approximately 400 words each, and a follow-up post the next week). This fortunate quartet will be chosen by me and my trusted inner circle of MiLB.com advisers and announced on Monday, December 2. An MiLB.com piece profiling this year’s journalers will run on Friday, December 6, and the following week it’s off to the job seeking races!
I believe that this will make for some interesting and engaging content, which, of course, is the name of the game. And, don’t forget: if you’re going to be at the Winter Meetings in any capacity whatsoever then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Pitch me a story idea, offer to buy me a drink, whatever. I’m always open to meeting anyone and everyone. (Except that one guy. You know who you are).
While it seemed that this serialized blogging saga had concluded, this turned out to emphatically NOT be the case. Clint Belau, the self-described “favorite” of the four job seekers, is no longer Birmingham-bound and in this post he explains why his 2013 plans now involve a certain PCL juggernaut.
Read Clint’s other entries HERE.
A Change of Plans
Remember me? It’s your favorite (ok, that seems a bit vain, but let’s just proceed as if it were true) PBEO Job Fair attendee Clint Belau! After a Christmas vacation back to Wisconsin — where I witnessed over two feet of snow falling and ate enough food to last me through spring — I’m back with an update.
When I last checked in, I hadn’t heard back from either of the teams that interviewed me in Nashville. That surprised me, considering I felt both interviews had gone extremely well. However, it turned out that my Nashville trip was all gravy on the proverbial mashed potatoes as I had already received an offer from the Birmingham Barons the day before I left for the Winter Meetings. Well, during my vacation, the gravy got whole lot thicker (I’m 93.8% sure that reference doesn’t make sense, but at the moment, I’ve managed to confuse myself, and don’t remember where I was going with the whole mashed potatoes thing).
Nearly two weeks after the Winter Meetings, I received an email from one team that had interviewed me and a phone call from the other…on the same day! The purpose of both was to say that they really liked me, and wanted to offer me a position! So it turns out I’m not crazy, and those interviews in Nashville actually did go as well as I had thought! Here I was, on what was going to be simply a celebratory trip home, mentally preparing for the drive to Alabama, and I now had two more job offers to ponder! After a couple drinks to settle the nerves and some weighing of pros/cons, I had a decision to make.
Was I suspicious that each of these teams had run through their list of first picks, been turned down, and were now perusing their list of backup candidates? Absolutely. If they liked me so much, how come I didn’t get a call back for two weeks? Surprisingly, I gathered up enough courage to pose that question when I spoke with both teams. In each case, the answer I received left me feeling quite sure that I was indeed atop both of their respective lists.
After considering my options (and a phone call to a world famous blogger who shall remain nameless), I have decided that the best fit for me would be in stadium operations with the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The Isotopes are the Triple-A affiliate of the Dodgers. Being that I’m currently living in Phoenix, proximity, as well as level of baseball, comfortability with the team’s representatives, and a personal reason or two, all played a part in my decision. (And for those of you who are wondering, no, the fact that their team name is an homage to The Simpsons was not one of those personal reasons.) So in a few weeks, it’s off to Albuquerque I go, to continue this journey toward a career in baseball. Feel free to follow my escapades on Twitter (@clintbelau), where I’ll be rambling about the most attractive features Albuquerque has to offer, as well as offering my 140 character opinion on the latest Taco Bell commercial, which angers me by insinuating that somehow, bringing a 10 pack of crunchy tacos to a party (and consequently spilling lettuce and cheese all over your friend’s apartment) is somehow cooler than bringing a cheese and cracker platter.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks documenting the Winter Meetings perspectives and experiences of others, but today I thought I’d close out the 2012 blogging campaign by documenting my own time in Nashville. Or, more specifically, the time I spent wandering the labyrinthian corridors, archways and staircases of the absurdly large (and, I must point out, impeccably maintained) Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
2012 marked a Winter Meetings return to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which last hosted the event in 2007 and will, yet again, in 2015. 2007 was my first Winter Meetings, and my memories of that experience are tinged with angst (as most of my memories are, but to a greater degree). At that point I was still finding my way with this job, and was not asked to go in any official capacity. But I went anyway, paying for my transportation and crashing in the hotel room of a benevolent co-worker. I had no idea what I was doing — Minor League Baseball was kind enough to give me a badge that provided entry to the daily events (such as the Trade Show and Gala), but I had no official media credentials, very few contacts, and virtually no money. I didn’t even have a camera. The blog posts from that trip, written less than two months after the blog itself was founded, reflect the ramshackle nature of that journey. (One post is simply a document of a conversation I had with a guy at a nearby Waffle House.) In looking back at the coverage of that trip, I am struck by how much I don’t like my writing and its snarky and dismissive yet trying-too-hard tone. (I am sure that, in five years, I will be disgusted by what I am writing right now. It is the way of things.)
All of this is to say that when I arrived back in Nashville for the 2012 Meetings, once of my first realizations was just how much my situation had changed in the last five years. Day to day it’s easy to feel like I’ve made no progress whatsoever, but here I was back at the Opryland and this time I was there in a far more legitimate capacity. Throughout the next three+ days I had many things to do, people to see, and stories to write. People would know who I am and I, in turn, would know them. I felt strangely at peace, and to the extent that I did anything on Sunday night it was this: some casual Opryland wandering, in order to re-acquaint myself with its gargantuan layout. (I also got some sushi, which was comically overpriced but competently prepared.)
Monday, the first official day of the Winter Meetings, kicked off with the Bob Freitas Business Seminar. If you’re a fan of large crowds of people – mostly men, mostly white — in bland business casual attire then this is the event for you! (Feel free to use that as a pull quote when advertising next year’s seminar). The morning portion of the seminar is comprised of a series of lectures, and I attended those within the “Licensing and Merchandising” track (just because). Here’s a riveting photo:
Despite my snarky and dismissive tone thus far (I guess some things never change), I do find value in the Freitas Seminar and wrote about my experiences HERE in as freewheeling and irreverent (yet hopefully still informative) a style as I could muster at the time. Between lectures, attendees mill about in the hallways outside and as one would expect the scene is heavy on back-slapping and flesh-pressing — for many in the industry, the Winter Meetings is the only opportunity of the year to renew acquaintances with distant league peers and former co-workers. Much has been made of the myriad networking opportunities to be found at an event such as this, but it really is invaluable.
At 11 a.m. there was a break in the Bob Freitas Seminar action as attendees made their way over to the Brobdingnagian Presidential Ballroom for the “Opening Session.” Get ready for another riveting picture, because here it comes!
The Opening Session has followed the same format in each year that I’ve attended — Randy Wehofer (of Iowa Cubs fame and fortune), serving as emcee, announces the full slate of league executive of the year awards and this then transitions to the main event: Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner’s speech. This always serves as a Minor League “state of the union” of sorts, during which O’Conner touches upon the past year’s triumphs and trials before looking toward the future.
This year I was VERY intrigued by what O’Conner had to say, as he introduced an ambitious new industry-wide initiative entitled “Project Brand.”
I ended up writing a feature about Project Brand the following week, so please check that out if you’re desirous of more info. But, in a nutshell, this initiative is an attempt to market Minor League Baseball in a top-down, all-inclusive way. Essentially, it involves telling the story of Minor League Baseball in a manner that will be attractive to national sponsors and fans alike.
This resonated with me because, on a micro level, this is the story that I’ve been trying to tell through my work on MiLB.com and this blog. My content adheres to this emerging industry-wide vision and should complement it nicely. (To paraphrase a set of Coolio lyrics that have always been very important to me: There ain’t no interest like self-interest, because self interest don’t stop!)
After skipping the Awards Luncheon (for, among other reasons, my lack of anyone to sit with. I’m a lone wolf at these events, and somewhat envious of the the fact that many of the other people there roll deep with their team and league colleagues) I reconvened with all of the industry heads for the “roundtable” portion of the Freitas Seminar. There are 15 round tables and they all take place concurrently, with each presenter doing three half hour presentations.
Meanwhile, most of the media hordes were camped out in their private ballroom. Oversaturation!
But you can’t blame the media for showing up in droves. Who wouldn’t want to spend their time amidst such an idyllic environment? And I’ve got to give a quick tip of the hat to the Opryland here — the customer service within that place is impeccable. It’s easy to get lost, but employees (no matter what their specific job) always went out of there way to provide any assistance that they could. I imagine that Minor League Baseball employees, themselves in an industry so focused on customer service, were particularly cognizant of this as well.
Of course, a big part of the Winter Meetings experience is the nighttime socializing. On Monday I fell prey to a problem that has been exacerbated by my new(ish) gluten-free reality — I can’t drink beer (and seemingly EVERYONE is drinking beer) so instead I went with whisky. But, of course, one beer does not equal one whisky and I lended up paying the price for my cavalier attitude in this regard.
But what can you do? Tuesday morning was a bit rough, but I had my first round of Job Seeker Journals to post. (Doing that sort of thing is a bit more work than people may assume. Adding titles, tags, links, photos and doing some basic editing takes time!) Next on the agenda was that a stop at the mecca of baseball-themed consumer goods and services that is the Trade Show.
On display: one of the many new looks of the Reading Fightin’ Phils.
And speaking of new uniforms, here’s a peak at what the Eugene Emeralds will be sporting.
This sign, it was inaccurate!
And — hey! It’s my old friends at Lynn University. Each year, students in professor Ted Curtis’ sports management program set up a booth at the Trade Show. In addition to spreading the word about the learning experiences on offer within their idyllic Sunshine State environs, they listen to impromptu lectures from various individuals within the baseball biz whom Curtis had asked to stop by.
One such individual was me. Contrary to the picture, my audience was slightly larger than one.
Toward the end of my spiel, I thanked Professor Curtis for continually asking me to take part in this. His invite back in 2007 was one of the reasons I first decided to attend the Winter Meetings. My thinking at the time was “If someone I’ve never met before wants me to speak, then I’ve got to go!” It served as a validation of sorts, a reminder that what I was doing was slowly starting to build an audience. (Put the emphasis on “slowly” in that previous sentence.)
But anyway — I ended up doing a story for MiLB.com on Trade Show first-timer Ben “The Utility Man” Youngerman, who’s gotten several mentions on this blog in the past. What can I say? I like his scrappy spirit and willingness to do whatever it takes to become a touring ballpark performer. This is not an easy industry to break into.
All in all it was an enjoyable time at the Trade Show, even if I didn’t walk out of there $500 richer like Wisconsin Timber Rattlers graphic designer Ann Mollica.
Mollica, who disavowed the legacy of fellow Wisconsinite Joe McCarthy by dividing this bounty equally amongst her co-workers, had won a raffle sponsored by the Skillville Group (home of the Zooperstars!, Myron Noodleman and Breakin’ B-Boy McCoy amongst others). Skillville are definitely the cool kids of the Trade Show — their advertising was featured on the back of the Winter Meetings badges, and their jumbo-sized booth manned by a squadron of employees in bright orange shirts had a prominent location close to the Trade Show entrance. They are very good at what they do, and well-known for it. The New York Yankees of Minor League Baseball touring performers?
On Tuesday evening I interviewed Winter Meetings logo designer Dan Simon (of Studio Simon) on the top floor of the Opryland, the two of us sitting just outside of a party held by the Chicago Cubs for their Minor League affiliates (every Major League club stages such an event during the Winter Meetings). That interview ran on the blog earlier this week, as did one I conducted the following morning with Sean Kane of Painted Glove Collectibles. Another interview that took place on Wednesday was with Ryan Kiel, a 25-year-old former Minor League pitcher now trying to break into the game on the business side. I later wrote an MiLB.com feature on Kiel, who, as it turns out, was hired as the general manager of the Appy League Pulaski Mariners (the same team for whom he began his pitching career, in 2010). This is a very interesting career arc!
Early in the afternoon I went back to the Trade Show to tie up a couple of loose ends — including a visit to the Australian Airbrushed Tattoos booth in order to get a temporary tattoo of a Minor League team (this is something that, two days before, I had promised I would do). The guys manning the booth had dozens of logos to choose from, and after some vacillating I went with the Timber Rattlers. I’ve always liked their logo, and figured I’d represent Wisconsin since I keep meaning to visit there in a professional context and thus far have been unable to do so. Also, I thought one their staff members might slip me a bit of the raffle winnings in exchange for the free promo I was giving them. (It was not to be, but please remember that I am always open to bribery.)
So there you go — I got a temporary tattoo. It lasted for the better part of a week, and I grew to like it because it made me feel tough.
With things winding down, I strolled through the PBEO Job Fair area. These photos, like most that I took, aren’t very exciting. But perhaps they will help contextualize the series of Job Seeker Journals that have run on this blog.
The final order of business for me was simply to attend the Gala, a three hour party (food and drinks included) attended by virtually every Minor League Baseball employee at the Winter Meetings. As such, it marks my last chance to network, and by “network” I mean slowly walk around the premises in a circle and see who talks to me.
I have no pictures from the Gala, which this year was held at a nearby Dave and Busters, but I do have an anecdote: I’ve been following a gluten-free diet since June, and the Gala marked the first time I had ever been in a situation with literally NO options. Every single item on offer was breaded and fried, and I felt like a real chump standing there with an empty plate and not knowing what to do. Eventually an MLBAM colleague of mine who is also gluten-free asked to talk to a manager about the situation, and the manager, well meaning but totally clueless, offered to go to a nearby Subway to get us dinner. That’s kinda like inviting someone with a seafood allergy to Red Lobster but we let it slide, and eventually they brought us soup and salad for the kitchen. Good enough! I was more interested in the open bar anyway.
Also good enough was my Winter Meetings experience in general. I flew back to NYC the following day, and soon managed to get a severe case of food poisoning courtesy of a local taco truck that I often frequent (I still love you, taco truck.) But before all of that happened, I got in a little QT with perhaps the most reliable individual in my life. She could stand to lose a few pounds, perhaps, but I suppose that’s true for most of us.
If I didn’t see you this year in Nashville — well, here’s to Orlando in 2013!
To all who read this particularly self-indulgent entry: Happy Holidays, and thanks so much for sticking with me.