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Covering a World Series game is … different

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We covered the baseball action of last night’s game pretty thoroughly already, so now some of the less important stuff.

It was my first ever World Series game and I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like it. Not that it was better than any other baseball game of course — on the merits it wasn’t — but it was definitely a far more intense experience than other games I’ve attended and/or covered.

I’ve talked about the crowd already — amped from beginning until end — but the whole scene is like that, really. The media stuff affected me most directly. So many people cover the World Series. Almost as many as go to the Winter Meetings each year. Except at the Winter Meetings all of those reporters and broadcasters spread out around a gigantic hotel whereas here they are split into a couple of rooms and spaces that are a fraction of the size of the smallest Winter Meetings work space.

There’s a media workroom off a hallway running behind the luxury boxes. It’s not big, but it’s where the reporters who don’t get a spot in the regular press box (which is most of the reporters) set up to write and prepare and whatnot. By the middle of the afternoon there were no chairs left and people spread out onto the floor or stood up and typed at tables. As the game got going many of us moved to the auxiliary press box up in sections 335 and 336 out in left field where there are temporary desktops, WiFi and TV monitors, but many — maybe most — of the press stayed in the workroom.

And I can see why, actually. For one thing it’s warmer. For another, more important thing it may be easier to follow the game action via TV than it is from out there in East Jesus Upper Deck Land.  I perched up there because I wanted to hear the crowd and feel like I was watching a game more than I was covering it, but I bet my colleagues down in the workroom were more on top of what was happening as it happened than I was up in the clouds.  I had some advantages — you can tell more about defensive positioning and the like better from up top — but those are pretty minor things.

Another crowded place: the field during the couple of hours before game time. Camera crews, VIPs, ex-ballpalyers, P.R. people and just about anyone else you can think of, crammed on the track behind home plate and between the dugouts. I did a brief on-field segment for NBC Sports Talk last night — look for me again tonight between 6pm and 7pm Eastern — and it was a battle just to get over to the tiny bit of real estate where my camera crew was set up. I squeezed myself in there and did my little chitchat. A few minutes later my brother called me. He was watching it at home and said that as I was talking Willie Mays was behind me talking to someone else. I had no idea. It’s so crowded and crazy down there that you can miss WILLIE FREAKIN’ MAYS.

I know most of you don’t care about these media things, but the whole experience does have me thinking about game coverage and what it means in the age of 100 TV cameras and the super slo-mo replay. The ballpark is great, but as I walked back to my hotel last night I had this rather unsatisfying feeling that, despite the fact I was there, I missed a whole lot. That I really do see more things — and more things better — at home while watching on TV and following on the Internet than I do in person.

Maybe it’s so big a spectacle that it’s hard to get your bearings after just one game. Maybe it’s just a matter of someone like me having a different kind of focus than other people who are covering the thing. I’m not sure. But just like the Tigers, I’m glad I have more games this series to figure it all out.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.