The 2014 MLB Winter Meetings were anything but relaxing
By EVAN BUDROVICH
College Contributor Network
The 2014 edition of the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, hosted right in the heart of sunny San Diego, were filled with late-night transactions and plenty of festive drinks toasted over major concern, shear chaos and utter euphoria.
It felt like more deals were taking place in the lobby, or even the local bars for that matter, which made the party a rollercoaster of non-stop emotions that lasted deep into the night. After doing some math, the Baseball Winter Meetings resulted in 37 players being traded, $347 million dollars spent on free agents and countless amount of sleepless moments at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.
Luckily I was bestowed the honor of being at the Baseball Winter Meetings and witnessed the media madness, the general manager chatter and all the back-and-forth twitter battles. My purpose was to kick start my play-by-play career at the Baseball Job Fair, but like any avid fan of the sport, I was captivated by the amount of trading and signing that was taking place right beneath my nose.
That massive Jon Lester signing, we were all walking through the Hotel Lobby on the way out for some late-night drinks. The Matt Kemp rumors, you bet I was on my phone all afternoon checking twitter. Max Scherzer talk, you bet Scott Boras was making his "grinch-like" presence felt throughout the week. The funniest part though, national reporters like Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney were dishing out live reports and making connections right within a few feet of where I was standing.
It was surreal to watch it unfold, and literally see (with my own two eyes) as reporters were scurrying around a Hotel Lobby pestering sources for the latest information. Especially when the hometown team gets involved, the vibe in San Diego was certainly amped up as the Padres acquired a marquee centerfield in Matt Kemp, who will be owed $15 million per year. Say what you want about his character and his effort on defense, but Padres' fans will enjoy the offensive numbers (especially from the second half of last season) Kemp will bring to the table for a power-starved offense. But see that's the thing about the Baseball Winter Meetings, the whole event is designed to reignite the motor for the game of baseball and give people in the industry a sense of what to expect moving forward.
Connections mean everything, and those friendly conversations led to so much more. At times it felt like a huge Fraternity party of baseball minds, but the inner-workings of trades, free agent signings and general baseball operating meetings in San Diego brought life to a relatively calm community. Did I mention that these people know how to celebrate as well, win, lose or draw in the overall ratings?
You could say the Chicago Cubs won, the Boston Red Sox lost, and the Dodgers/White Sox made some of the biggest deals of the week, but it will really pan out once teams report to Spring Training. I'd say the pulse around the Hotel was nervous, not in terms of what was happening but what could be breaking at any moment. For the avid baseball fan, the Baseball Winter Meetings are a brief glimpse into what your respective General Manager is thinking about the upcoming season.
It also helps that the whole circus show is being filmed and documented by almost every major sports media outlet in the business.
Imagine like "Survivor" in real-time with actual players being discussed and everyone up for elimination. Players are being thrown around like hot potatoes and the rumors are flying in and out of the building. These walls also have huge ears, so nothing goes unnoticed in the Bayfront Hotel.
During this crazy week, a sense of what teams are buyers, sellers, and what teams are coming to play this spring. And in the midst of great drinks, tons of social media rumors and great conversations, plenty of work was getting done. Funny thing was, the two teams we saw finish out the season, the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals, were among the quietest teams making moves.
Joe Maddon stole the show, once again, giving the starving media plenty to talk about. Not only about the improvement of the Chicago Cubs but the hype around the upcoming season. That's what people want to see and strive to hear about, learning about all the sophisticated chaos that goes into the inner workings of a baseball organization at a crucial time for the development of a winning brand.
Evan Budrovich is a senior at the University of Southern California. He has a passion for the 49ers, Dodgers baseball and all things USC athletics. Follow him on Twitter: @evanbud