WINTER MEETINGS 2011
I’ve safely arrived in Dallas and have already begun taking in the 2011 MLB Winter Meetings.
A large Reds contigent that included Dusty Baker, Bob Miller, Terry Reynolds, Dick Williams, Lois Hudson, Rob Butcher, Larry Herms and myself got off to a late start when Sunday’s 4:10 flight got delayed because an airport maintenance truck wrecked into the airplane (no joke). One person was actually injured seriously enough that an ambulance was called to the tarmac scene. Thankfully, passengers had not yet boarded the plane when this accident occurred. We were delayed by about an hour. Oh and while we were all waiting, the power in our section of the airport went out. So suffice it to say, we didn’t exactly burst out of the gates. But we are here now safe and sound!
A lot of folks have a preconception that the Winter Meetings is a baseball gathering for teams to get together to make trades. And though trades do occur here, the Winter Meetings is much, MUCH greater than that. The Meetings is actually a forum for all teams’ baseball operations (GMs/managers, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, minor league affiliates, traveling secretaries and media relations departments) to meet collectively with their colleagues within MLB. Each segment of “baseball operations” have their own meetings. For example, during these three days, I attend the “Public Relations Meetings” as a representative of the Cincinnati Reds. The Winter Meetings is also the site of the Rule 5 Draft. So as you can see, there’s a lot more to it than ”meets” the eye.
Today our PR meetings kicked off with an introduction and an update on the basic collective bargaining agreement. MLB’s Pat Courtney and Dan Halem briefed us media relations folks on what was going on with the basic agreement and how it would affect our area of expertise (clubhouse access, social media, all-star game, official scoring, draft, et al.).
Next, Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal spoke to us about National Baseball Writers and their usage of Twitter. After that, former White House Communications Director Kevin Sullivan addressed the group on how we can better build a message and be a trusted advisor within our field. Peter Woodfork and Joe Torre updated us on MLB umpiring. ESPN’s Mike McQuade talked to us about their baseball media plans for 2012. Finally, a few minutes were dedicated to talking about dynamic ticket pricing.
After those topics were discussed, we went to another room for more informal ”round table” discussions. The “round tables” give us media relations folks a chance to chat face-to-face with people in our industry on topics that directly affect us, or that we have interest in. For example, it’s our chance to talk informally with people from FOX, TBS, ESPN, MLB Productions, Elias, Rawlings, etc.
Following lunch, media schedules a 4 hour block to meet with each teams’ managers. So in our case, Dusty is scheduled to attend each of the national TV studio sets, the MLB Production area and then the writers sessions. The Reds beat writers – Mark Sheldon and John Fay - then get an opportunity to visit our general manager’s hotel suite (where Reds baseball operations is headquartered) to have a daily Q&A session with Walt Jocketty.
Tonight, the media relations folks will reconvene for the Robert O. Fishel Award ceremony. The Fishel Award is given every year to someone within baseball media/public relations for excellence in the field. It’s a pretty prestigious award. I’m proud to say I work for a Fishel Award winner – Rob Butcher (he won the award a few years ago).
Here are a few pics from Dallas. Enjoy. I’ll have more stuff in a bit, so stop back…