Thoughts on the Winter Meetings

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Two or three years from now this will all be old hat for me. I’ll be of the Winter Meetings, not merely at them. For now, however, I wish to preserve some observations taken as an outsider to this mad process:

  • The central dynamic of the first day of the meetings was the extreme activity of nothing happening.  Whereas, I’m told, in years past slow news was met with a lot of reporters standing around talking about the lack of news, now it’s met with everyone tweeting about either (a) the lack of news; or (b) the smallest nothing of a rumor in an effort to bootstrap it into something approaching news, usually unsuccessfully.

  • I won’t complain about Twitter’s impact on the meetings itself — it is what it is — but it has the strangest impact on the writers using it.  Mostly I’m struck by how much content and, subsequently, pageviews writers are giving away to Twitter.  Sure, we here at CTB tweet, but not everything and not constantly.  A lot of writers who have primary online outlets, however, are racing to tweet things rather than racing to write even the most basic of blurbs about it on their own websites. Are they “extending their brand,” or are they “robbing their employer of web traffic”?  That’s for the web philosophers to decide, I suppose, but it strikes me that it’s better for me and NBC if you all are reading my b.s. here rather than on Twitter.  Dissenting views appreciated.

  • I’m struggling to think of anywhere I’ve ever been where the male-to-female ratio is so extreme. It’s like Amalie Benjamin and a thousand dudes. 

  • Peter Gammons doesn’t go anywhere without his iPod.

  • Tracy Ringolsby doesn’t go anywhere without his cowboy hat.

  • The Japanese reporters don’t go anywhere without each other. Ever watch the “Planet Earth” documentaries? You know the amazing scenes showing the schools of fish dashing around in perfect unison, darting left and right as if guided by a hive mind?  That’s the Japanese reporters.  They’re mostly interested in where Hideki Matsui is going and they really want to know why anyone would not want to sign Hideki Matsui.

  • I know I shouldn’t be, but I continue to be amazed that I can just leave my laptop in the big press room and no one will mess with it while I’m away.

  • They don’t have coffee in the press room. They have water and soda, but not coffee. I’m guessing the people that run the Starbucks in the hotel lobby have something to do with that.

That’s all I got right now.  We’ll be back at it all day today.  Yesterday we had 50+ posts, and that’s without much of anything happening. Imagine how much we’ll shoot your way in the event some actual news transpires.

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.

Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.

Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.

There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.