But Indiana, yes, been there. Unfortunately there was only time to stay within the downtown sector of Indianapolis near the capitol. Nice area, if I say so my own self (and I guess I just did). However, one of the joys of business travel is squeezing in the opportunity to see what a place has to offer.
This year we got to stand on the South Lawn of the White House just below the Truman balcony, and I was able to see the scene at Chateau Marmot in Los Angeles; snow in Denver, the first World Series game in the new Yankee Stadium mixed with a late-night drink at Elaine’s; the gravesite shrine for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta; the Fonzie statue in Milwaukee; the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and had my order messed up by the counter help at the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago.
That last one made me feel like I was in an old SNL sketch, which could have happened because former cast members Jim Belushi and the heroic Bill Murray were in the press box for Phillies games this year, too.
I got to talk to Reggie Jackson, Fernando Valenzuela and Pedro Martinez. Twice I was at a baseball-related event where the President of the United States also attended.
I don’t mean to brag, but…
In other words it was an interesting year that we closed out in Indiana today.
So what did we learn at this year’s version of the Winter Meetings? Well, let’s take a look:
• It gets cold and blustery in Indiana and the wind will go right through you because there aren’t a lot of really tall buildings and the entire state is as flat as a pancake. Furthermore, Larry Bird does not greet visitors at the airport, French Lick is the name of a city, and no one has seen Scott Rolen in these parts in a long time.
More notably, I got to see where the Baltimore Colts snuck off to, and frankly, the nickname and the colors still belong in Baltimore. Sure, they have Peyton Manning and all, and they haven’t lost a game this year, but I don’t know what the hell the Indianapolis Colts are.
• General managers of Major League Baseball teams practice the craft of misdirection and doublespeak better than any of those spies James Bond tried to capture. After going through the linguistic exercises with the Phillies GM this week, maybe it’s time for him to serve the country as a snoop with the CIA. Sign him up.
• The Phillies are very much in the mix for Roy Halladay. In fact, they never dropped out nor has their interest in the Blue Jays’ big ace waned since they tried to deal for him last July. Moreover, it seems to be very realistic that potential Hall of Famer John Smoltz could be pitching in the late innings for the Phillies in 2010.
Oh yes… John Smoltz.
• And speaking of pitchers like John Smoltz, expect the Phillies/Pedro flirtation to pick up as the off-season winds down. Pedro is perfect for the Phillies’ needs and no, I’m not just saying that because he is the greatest quote in sports since Muhammad Ali. Pedro for 25-to-30 starts a season at the back of the rotation might not be all that bad.
• Hanging out in the lobby of a hotel with baseball people is a good place to catch a cold. If it’s contagious and can get airborne, those people probably have it or are passing it on. Mix that with the 50-mph winds and sub-freezing temperatures and expect to spend the week coughing up and blowing out all sorts of fun stuff.
• Finally, are the Winter Meetings really all that necessary? Sure, it’s nice to have everyone under one roof, but are the winter meetings one of those anachronisms baseball and baseball folks like to hang onto until it has overstayed its welcome by a decade or two? Hey, I like hobnobbing and hanging out as much as the next guy. Truth be told, I’m pretty damn good at hanging out—in the top 10, at least.
But in a digitalized world where news is reported instantly and old-fashioned things like newspaper deadlines are beyond silly, does all that “face time” matter? Oh sure, I’m pleased as hell I got to see Indianapolis. Better yet, I was lucky enough to learn about the state’s fascination with the concept of “eugenics” at the turn of the last century, but couldn’t I have just looked all that up on Wiki?
And do I really need to see Rosenthal and Heyman punch in their linkless tweets from stage right?
No, not really.Please disregard the motion to retire the Winter Meetings when they are moved to a warm-climate city with palm trees and night life that sometimes serves as the setting for those “Girls Gone Wild” videos. In that case we’ll see you next December in Orlando…
Yep, Tiger Woods’ hometown.