Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE). In this installment, Eric Schmitz experiences the highs and lows of “professional speed dating.”
Eric’s first entry can be found HERE.
Tuesday was another early start, as a journal entry to write and a scheduled interview to prepare for left little time to recover from the grind of job seeker life. My first interview was at 10am. I arrived around 9:30, checked the job posting room to see that little had changed, saw the same in the interview posting room, and headed to the interview room for my meeting.
Let me tell you about interviewing at the PBEO Job Fair. Usually, when you have a job interview outside of this week at this event, you have days if not weeks to prepare, and it’s a very formal event. Here, there’s no time for that. This is professional speed dating. You get a table number to meet at, and you go introduce yourself to people you usually have never met before. You have 10-15 minutes (maybe even 30 if you’re lucky to meet with people you could spend the next summer to the next few years of your life with) and convince them why you’re the best candidate for the position. If you get really nervous for interviews, good luck finding the time to do that here. If you’re fortunate enough to get multiple interviews, you have plenty of chances to shake it off. Everyone’s gonna have a horrible interview, you can’t kill them all. If you happen to be the type that can kill in every interview, then odds are you’re not the type that’s attending this.
So I had my first interview (I’m going to keep teams and positions vague to protect the innocent and increase the allure of my skills, if you don’t mind) and it went quite well. It was for a full time position, a Triple-A franchise in a great situation but a little above my qualifications, and I felt I did a solid job convincing the interviewee I was up for the challenge. But you don’t really know, and in 15 minutes, most often you’re not gonna get a vibe that says “I have this locked up” so there’s no sense over-analyzing your performance.
That was it for the morning, and thanks to leaving my wallet at my off-site hotel, I left for a bit and had some time to think about my afternoon interviews. Over the course of the morning, my name appeared on another interview schedule, so I had three job interviews lined up within 1:45 and 3:00. The second two of the three I basically walked from one table to the other. The first went very well, in fact half the interview was just chatting about hockey, which is what I like to call my wheelhouse in terms of discussion points. It was one-on-one, and I can’t say I left thinking I had done a bad job showing why I’d be the best person for the position.
I had enough time between the first and second to go hang out in the workroom with my job seeking constituents. Over the course of this event, I’ve found a group of fellow unemployed who’ve found a way to stick together during the monotony and happen to be a lot of fun. So I chatted with them and headed back to the interview room for my final two spots.
That first one? Yeah… didn’t quite go so well. I sat down, and while I’m confident the position is something I could’ve succeeded at, it wasn’t a good sell job by myself. Of course, that worked out great, being a sales job and all. It was 3-on-1, and finding a way to make connections with three different people enough to give them a good feeling about you in about 15 minutes is pretty tough. I knew that right away, and as I got up to end that interview, I walked right to another table for my next one, sat down and got busy.
You know that feeling when you absolutely kill an interview? Awesome, right? I did very well and I was almost expecting to be offered on the spot. I wasn’t, which is expected since I was the first interview, but still, I finished up on a high note.
The postings were near non-existent for the day in general, and after sitting back down at the workroom table with my adopted peers for a bit, I went and wandered the trade show floor. I ran into my former colleague with the Sounds, Brandon Yerger, and walked around with him as he went around gathering information for the team. You can spend hours going booth to booth and learning about different products. I did stop and check out a few video board and presentation systems, just to get a better grasp of the technology for my own sake, and I’m continually impressed with how advanced things have become.
With no hope for more interviews or jobs to be posted, I just headed back to the hotel to relax and have dinner before another trip back to Opryland. Over the next few hours, I ended up getting call-backs on three of the five interviews I had. The first one I had this morning? Denied. The one this afternoon I killed? Got the offer. The one from Monday that I just showed up to and did well? They want to meet on Wednesday again, and it sounds promising. Needless to say, I feel like I’m in good shape and I still have chips left on the table with plenty of time for things to happen.
Back at Opryland, I met up with some of the Sounds staff (even AJ Rockwell came out!) at Fuse Sports Bar and I had a chance to tell them all about what happened. Then we wandered over to The Falls where it seemed like more people decided to hang out and we did sociable things. The place was mobbed, so we headed back to Fuse, which was bumping like it has been every night. I was able to make some additional connections with teams that I hadn’t applied with that seemed like they had potential, so it was naturally productive, but overall, the night was spent just chilling over a few drinks. That was fine with me, and around 1:30 I decided to call it a night. I said goodbyes to the people I was hanging out with, and got introduced to John Kruk. You know… just another night at the Baseball Winter Meetings.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE). In this installment, Chris Miller pounds the pavement, stocks up on freebies, and appreciates the unique humor of Appalachian League general managers.
Chris’ first journal installment can be found HERE.
Tuesday, 12/4/12 — A DAY ON THE MOVE
While Monday was more so a day of waiting, Tuesday was the complete opposite and by the end of the day, I logged a decent amount of mileage on my feet.
My day started like most others with a decent walking commute from a nearby parking lot outside of the hotel—the walk is worth saving the $20, even if it was raining on the way on. I proceeded to the interview postings room, slowly making my way past the MLB Network set to see if I noticed anybody noteworthy (Just like job seeker Clint Belau, who I met with as well as the famous Ben Hill, I also bumped into Mariners Manager Eric Wedge last night while networking at the bar).
After checking the interview schedule, I made my way to investigate the Trade Show a little more before an early afternoon interview I had. After loading up on free stuff galore, I met a couple front office folks for an interview. We searched lobby after lobby for a place to sit down, something that has been a common occurrence to me thus far. All of the interviews I have had up until this point have not actually been in the interviewing room. I have met members of front offices in coffee shops, a lobby next to a live radio broadcast and on a bench next to the river that runs through the Opryland where we were interrupted a couple of times by the person giving the tour.
After a good interview, I made my way back to the job fair area, only to stop and catch up with my former boss Jim Holland, the GM of the Princeton Rays. I’m always happy to see Jim for a handful of reasons: He gave me my first opportunity to work in baseball, he’s one of the most knowledgeable people I know about how to run an organization and he always has a funny story to tell. This time his humor focused on what the definition of what a “mezzanine” was. His take: “Something that’s between two different floors of a building. I always that those were called nails.”
After getting my fill in of laughs, I checked the boards again before I had to walk all the way across the hotel again for an afternoon interview. After searching for a bench for five minutes, I was able to talk to two front office employees for about 30 minutes. The job fair part of the day went very well, and the evening of networking was eventful as well, even though I didn’t bump into any MLB managers. With Wednesday being my last day in Nashville, I anxious to get the chance to talk to people I haven’t as of yet, while also hoping for a chance for more interviews. My time in the city has been great so far and I’m hoping Wednesday will bring a great end to the week.
Check back throughout the week for more from our intrepid Job Seekers. Sorry, I should have been more polite: PLEASE check back throughout the week for more from our intrepid Job Seekers. And, no, I’m not sure why Job Seekers is capitalized either.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE.) In this installment, Clint Belau finds himself becoming part of “one big semi-functional family.” Clint’s first entry can be found HERE.
Monday, 12/3/12: Hurry Up and Wait
The word of the day was patience. The interview scheduling room didn’t open until 9AM, which is late when you’re someone who woke up at 5 due to uncontrollable excitement. I took the opportunity to check out the MLBTV sets first thing in the morning. The madness has begun, and the overall action in the hotel’s various lobbies has increased tenfold since yesterday. Essentially, everyone who is anyone in baseball is here, and they’re all now roaming amongst the commoners. Trying to keep my head from spinning as I attempt to keep up with all of the baseball celebrities around me has become a concern.
As the bell struck 9, the interview scheduling room was flooded with eager baseball wannabes, all assuming the posting boards would be full of lists with their name on them. Well, they couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, there were three jobs that had interview lists posted. You could almost hear the collective inner thought of “um…what?” running through everyone’s mind. It became immediately apparent that today would be a day of waiting.
As the morning progressed, more lists were posted. At 10:39, I saw my name on a list for the first time. Was it the greatest feeling of elation ever? No, but it was quite a relief. The “team name that shall remain anonymous” wanted to speak with me. I penned my name in the 11:15 interview slot, and with that, had secured my first interview of the week. At 11:07, I nervously stood in the interview room, waiting for the previous interviewee to wrap it up, so I could meet with my prospective employer. At 11:15 sharp, I began what would be the best first round interview of my life. Within seconds, it was confirmed. I’ve finally chosen the right path for my life. I’m very rarely more comfortable than when I’m around baseball…and that has obviously carried over into my professional pursuit. A twenty minute interview felt like two seconds. And in seemingly an instant, it was over. The gentlemen who had interviewed me were now handing me their cards and offering to buy me a beer at the bar later. And, being from Wisconsin, it’s deeply embedded in my DNA to never, ever, turn down a free beer.
Back to the majority of the day, which was spent hanging out in the workroom area, then checking, then re-checking, then checking again, then borderline obsessing over the job posting and interview scheduling boards. That was typically followed by conversations with other job seekers about how there didn’t seem to be much movement. However, it was a great time to trade stories with fellow attendees. Calling it a friendly group is comparable to calling the the Opryland Hotel mid-sized. Everyone was bouncing around from table to table, getting to know each other. It was as unstuffy as unstuffy could possibly be. Occasionally, veterans of the business would pop in to offer their advice, encouragement and general well wishes. One thing that stood out for me is how much everyone in the business seems to look out for each other. It really does appear to be one big semi-functional family.
During the afternoon, the posting boards picked up. I had another interview during which I was so relaxed it was suspicious. Having two interviews seemed to be the overall average for the day. As the 5 o’clock posting room closure hour drew near, talk shifted from “how has your day gone” to “where are we drinking tonight?” After all, networking is key. And the opportunity to be rubbing elbows with such a ridiculous number of baseball greatest minds is not to be passed up.
And this brings us to the most completely awesome story of the day – After meeting the creator himself, Benjamin Hill, for a couple drinks at the bar, I bellied up to close out my tab. As I was doing so, I looked over my shoulder and saw none other than Eric Wedge. Between checking to see if I was having a heart attack, and assuring myself that my bladder remained under control, I mustered up enough courage to offer to buy him a drink. Not only did he pull a complete reversal and buy ME a drink, but we proceeded to have a lengthy chat about the Mariners, my current situation, and the Winter Meetings in general. As a devoted Mariners fan, I cannot imagine there will be a bigger highlight for me this week. If I can say that there was one specific experience that made this entire trip “worth it”, that was it. Yes, jobs are fantastic, and I certainly hope I leave here with one, but I believe life is about experiences, and that was an experience that will remain with me forever.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE.) In this installment Eric Schmitz recaps his first two days in the Music City.
It took a long journey to get to Nashville, but I can’t say there’s a city I’d rather have this year’s event in regards to my current situation. For me personally, being able to reconnect with my colleagues locally and throughout MiLB while trying to make my way into the industry makes things so much easier. I’m familiar with the area, and this being my third Winter Meetings, I know the ropes heading in. It’s almost like home-field advantage. While having an advantage is nice, the results are what matters.
The whole shindig got under way at Sunday’s Business of Baseball Workshop, which is probably the best reality check most job seekers are going to get prior to the PBEO Job Fair. This year’s was great — Rob Crain and the speakers did a fantastic job of being entertaining while getting the message across (which is basically the entire concept of Minor League Baseball). Being my third trip to the event but having a year away from the game, it was a good refresher to attend, albeit redundant to hear the same stories and speakers. Even though I know the situation well, the emcee Mr. Crain, Martie Cordaro, Elizabeth Martin, Giovanni Hernandez, the panel, “Parney” and Pat O’Conner were all great. I ran into Rob in the hallway between sessions and busted his chops about it being the third time I heard his Brian Cashman story, but honestly, he can keep telling it every year because it’s part of what this week is all about: meeting people and networking.
I made sure I attended the workshop because I knew I had to be able to get into the job posting room as it opened, since some teams will collect resumes Sunday night and post interview schedules first thing Monday morning. In past years, with less experience in my repertoire, I submitted a large number of resumes in the mindset of “throw enough crap at a wall and see what sticks,” and I’d end up with more interviews than I knew what to do with. This time around, I’ve been a bit more selective, because while I’m definitely motivated to do what it takes to get a career, not just a job, in the industry, I have a sense of what places and situations I can be successful in.
So after dropping in my resumes, I headed back to the hotel to change and grab food, then it was back to Opryland to do what is probably the most underappreciated yet crucial part of the job seeker role: hitting the hotel bars. I headed over with one of my former co-workers with the Sounds here in Nashville, Kevin Samborski, and another job seeker, Leon de Winter, to have a few drinks and start meeting people. Over a few beers, I made more connections than I would’ve even had a chance to do all day. It might seem a little misleading to some to act like drinking is what the Winter Meetings are all about, but really, the networking you do outside of the daily events is how you become part of the community. You’ll meet people this week that you’ll stay in contact with for the rest of your life, whether you work with the same team as them, or the same league as them, or the same organization as them, or not at all. And that connection is why this industry is the best.
After a late night (not too late, but late… I’d say “productive,” but irregardless…) I came back to Opryland Monday morning as the Job Fair and the Winter Meetings in general got into full swing. I checked the job posting room and battled the swarm around the two bulletin boards they decided to post everything at and tossed in a few resumes. Then I went and checked the interview posting room to look for my name but no dice.
I headed back into the posting room to see if the crowd died down, and as I’m looking at the board, my phone starts ringing. It was someone from one of the teams I submitted a resume for Sunday night, asking me to sit down for an interview, like… now. So I said “Sure,” and my first thought was, naturally, “What job did I apply for with these guys?” So as I’m walking to the lobby to meet these people I may be working with for the next few years or more of my life, I’m rifling through my notes to find the job title of what I applied for. I found them, sat down, had an interview which to me seemed to be a good one, and that was it. Such is life at the Job Fair. Always be ready.
The interview was early on in the morning, and the rest of the day crawled by. Nothing popped up before lunch time, and I met up with a bunch of guys from the Sounds and walked over to the Opry Mills mall to get some food. It was great catching up with them. One of the downfalls of breaking into the industry is that you’re likely going to be moving around, so you’ll spend summers being with people up to 18 hours a day (work plus after work drinks) and then you move on or they move on and you don’t get to see them as much. For veterans of the industry, that’s why the Winter Meetings is so much fun. This is the one time of year when you get to see the people you used to work with and have a good time.
Monday afternoon consisted of bunkering down in the Job Fair workroom and sitting and chatting with other job seekers while we all waited for more postings. Sitting down at a random table and shooting the breeze with people, waiting for my phone to charge, ended up being an alright way to pass the afternoon. I ended up having my name show up on a few more interview schedules, but everything was for Tuesday. So I headed back to the hotel, got out of my suit and shot right back over to Opryland for the night. The Baseball Trade Show opened Monday night, which is a can’t miss event. And, no, not just because of the free drinks. The trade show is a great place to make connections with the suppliers who you’ll eventually be working with once you’re an established professional. Meeting these people, seeing the products, which includes every item imaginable that a baseball team would need to operate, is eye-opening for many.
After that, I headed over to the sports bar here with a few people and ended up hanging out all night. Of course a bunch of guys from the Sounds were there as well (thanks to Assistant GM Doug Scopel for buying the first round) and as the night went on, I caught up with new faces and old. I was lucky to have a chance to get a drink with Clint, one of the other journaling job seekers and the very talented proprietor of this Ben’s Biz Blog as well. I called it a night relatively early thanks to having an early interview on the docket Tuesday. So we’ll see how that goes. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE.) In this installment Chris Miller recaps his first two days in the Music City.
When I registered for the Winter Meetings, knowing it was in Nashville, I was pretty eager for the chance to land a full-time gig. Secretly, however, I was also glad it gave me a chance to see the city and put on my on my non-existing cowboy boots and hat for a few days.
After getting a meal and seeing some sights of the city on Saturday evening, Sunday brought the first official day and a chance to see the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. There are few words that can really describe The Gaylord Opryland but if I had to pick one, it would be stunning. It’s just an unreal facility.
The personal highlight of the Baseball of Business Workshop on Sunday was listening to President of Minor League Baseball Pat O’ Conner, who touched on his career in MiLB (where he started as in intern out of college making less than desirable wages). He mentioned something that I have found to be prevalent in my three years in baseball: “Getting the job done.” At the end of the day, regardless of your position, skills, or anything else, you have to pitch in to get the job done to have the game go on.
Once the job postings went up, it was somewhat of organized chaos as everyone flocked to the postings similar to people seeing if they had made or been cut from their high school sports team. It was relieving to finally see the jobs go up.
Monday was a routine of checking my phone, the job postings, and the interview scheduling. I also had the chance to meet a few nice people looking for jobs and saw a few celebs (I was pretty disappointed when Ken Rosenthal walked by me and wasn’t wearing a bow tie).
The day’s events concluded with the Baseball Trade Show where everything and everything that has to do with the Minors—uniforms, inflatables, food options, European acrobats performing routines on a balance beam—were on display.
On Monday I had an interview and a few good leads on jobs, but the highlight of my day came at the very end, as I followed Craig Counsell up an escalator. I can’t wait to see what Tuesday has in store.
There will be much more to come from Chris and our other three job seekers throughout the week. In the meantime, my own recap of Day One of the Winter Meetings can be found HERE.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE.) In this installment, Linda Le recaps her first two days in the Music City.
12/2/12: Hello Music City!
The week started early for us job seekers (one day earlier, to be precise) and was filled with inspiring guest speakers and their stories about endeavoring into the world of long work days, low paying opportunities, yet rewarding moments – also known as the world of professional baseball.
The Business of Baseball Workshop was an all day event that provided information on the ins and outs of working in professional baseball. When I entered the designated room where the workshop was being held, I instantly felt the eagerness and the anxiety amongst all the other job seekers. One may think that it would feel intimidating too see 400 – 500 other job seekers all in one room knowing that we are all here for the same reason, but for myself it reiterated how beloved this industry is and how much people are willing to do to get their foot in the door.
The reality of working in professional baseball was repeatedly illustrated through the presentations of both Juliana Paoli, the CMO for the San Jose Giants and Giovanni Hernandez, the Scouting Assistant – International Operations for the Detroit Tigers. I was trying to count how many times the words “ramen noodles” came up in Giovanni’s presentation, which was concise and pretty much blunt on the topic of becoming an intern. Oh, how memories of my university days were flooding my mind.
After the workshop was completed and we got a chance to view the current job postings, I was exhausted. Needing to reflect and take everything in I decided to grab a quick meal. At the bar of one of the restaurants in the Gaylord Opryland Resort (which by the way is a city on its own), I was able to strike up a conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me, who happened to be a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Upon introduction I thought to myself the amount of people that attended the workshop earlier in the day who would have loved the opportunity to be sitting next to a scout, let alone a scout for a Major League team.
The moment in the bar illustrated the power of networking and how easily a connection can be made from just a simple conversation. This particular conversation happened to start off with the scout indicating he was from Chicago, then I proceeded to profess my love for Chicago food (Deep dish pizza, Harold’s Chicken Shack and Al’s: anyone from Chicago will know these references).
After exchanging contact information I walked away thinking that the conversation I had was just as informative as the all day workshop. It also made me realize how here at the Winter Meetings, there are endless opportunities to meet and connect with great individuals – it doesn’t just pertain to the confines of the job fair.
12/3/12: Let’s Play the Waiting Game
I was hopeful to walk into the interview schedule room to see if my name was listed on any of the postings I had applied to in the previous evening. Of course I was not the only one there and it was overwhelming to see the faces of disappointed individuals who either did not see their names listed or even the posting itself.
I circulated around the room which by 11am only had about 20 – 30 lists for scheduled interviews. None of the postings I had applied to were up yet for scheduling interviews – not a big deal I thought, it was early in the day. I didn’t want to be like most of the attendees there who were nervously checking every 30 minutes for any new information, so I decided to wander off and explore the rest of the Winter Meetings. If I learned anything from the previous day it was to build on my network and to foster new connections.
During lunch I had the opportunity to meet with the Director of Corporate Sales for one of the minor leagues. I looked at this whole waiting game situation in a different perspective. My down time waiting for new job postings or interview schedules encouraged more opportunity to meet baseball executives.
I went through another round of checking for new postings I was interested in as well as checking up on any new interview schedules. I left the day still not seeing any of the interview schedules for the postings I had applied to from the previous day. The waiting game continues.
At this point it was the opening night for the Baseball Trade Show, a nice distraction from the chaos of the job fair. As the day was winding down, I thought it well needed for myself and other job seekers to be surrounded by inflatable mascots and free beer!
There will be much more to come from Linda and our other three job seekers throughout the week. In the meantime, my own recap of Day One of the Winter Meetings can be found HERE. I’d really appreciate it if you check it out.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE.) These journal entries were scheduled to start running on Tuesday, but job-seeker Clint Belau just couldn’t wait to begin sharing his experiences. Hence, he has sent in this “bonus” entry, covering Sunday’s “Business of Baseball” orientation. Enjoy, and check back throughout the week for more from Clint as well as our other three job-seekers.
Sunday, 12/2/12: OPEN THE FLOODGATES
I departed the fabulous Days Inn on foot bright and early, making my way towards the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for the orientation-style Business Of Baseball workshop. Apparently I was a little on the excited side, since my walk – which had taken 21 minutes in my test version last night — took a mere 13. I’m sure the skinny bald guy in a black suit with briefcase in hand, walking at a furious pace down the streets of Nashville at 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning, looked completely normal to cars passing by. Alas, at 7:13, I had officially arrived at the Winter Meetings.
The day was emceed by the recently appointed President of the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, Rob Crain (sidenote: that dude really knows how to emcee a workshop). The morning session began at 8:15 sharp, and included an impressive roster of Minor League executives, all of whom had helpful hints about the interview process, tips for what to do/what not to do during the upcoming week, and most importantly, offered incredibly blunt insights as to what life in Minor League Baseball is all about. At points, it seemed as if they were trying to talk us all out of our respective pursuits. In reality, their candor was greatly appreciated. With a room made up of 95% bright-eyed, ready to conquer the world 20-somethings, the reality check-themed speeches were a bit predictable. If anyone in the room was surprised to hear that Minor League Baseball is made up of understaffed, overworked, minimally paid people who are in it for all the right reasons, they neglected to do their research.
As I mentioned, the crowd was mainly comprised of upcoming/recent college graduates, although I (age 35) was far from the only old timer there. Of the younger attendees that I spoke with, the fact that I’m basically a decade their elder didn’t seem to bother anyone. (Although, if I’m patting my own back here, I’m a pretty easy guy to get along with.) Whenever there were breaks, most of us wisely used our time polishing our networking skills. As was repeated countless times by each and every speaker, that will be the single most important skill during this week, and more so, going forward in our career.
We broke for lunch, at which point I made a very important phone call that I’ll get to in future entries. The afternoon session included a panel of esteemed industry professionals, a session on how to locate the job posting board, and where to submit your resumes. The workshop was capped off with a hilarious, incredibly thought-provoking, 45 minutes with the extremely entertaining Vice President and COO of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Todd “Parney” Parnell.
The day closed with the unveiling of the job posting room, where some 278 jobs were on display. Yeah, that room got real busy, real quick. However, there were no “Wal-Mart at midnight on Black Friday” incidents, so there was no need for a safety helmet. The job-seeking crowd was very cordial…for now. Most of us mingled a bit in the “Job Seeker Workroom” area, labeling our resumes to be placed in the appropriate box, according to job posting number. Me, I was on a mission for Mexican food…so after submitting my resumes, I was off to eat, and to begin my week at Networkfest 2012.
Quote of the Day – “If you are looking to begin a career in baseball, you are in exactly the right place.” Pat O’Conner, President – Minor League Baseball
There will be much more to come this week (and next) from Nashville. The Gaylord Opryland Hotel is where the magic happens!
If you thought that the previous post would be the extent of my Winter Meetings coverage, then I commend you for thinking about my writing.
But the fact of the matter is this: While solidly on the former end of the Empty/Full continuum, my Winter Meetings content tank is not yet barren. This post, therefore, marks my best effort to attain depletion (a spiritual imperative, in some cultures).
It was mentioned in my MiLB.com article, but one of Tuesday’s most intriguing events was the annual “Women in Baseball” speed networking event. Open only to female employees of affiliated MiLB teams (as well as the odd blogger), the event was emceed by Ripken Baseball executive director Amy Venuto and featured three topics over which to “speed network”: putting your ideas into action, how to manage emotions, and transitioning from co-worker to supervisor.
And, let it be known, this is that rare seminar in which alcoholic beverages are served.
Anyhow, I think I’d like to do a longer story on women working in baseball. Not some sort of “Minor Leagues, Major Groundbreakers” puff piece; I’d just talk to people around the sport in order to get some perspective on what it’s like. Let me know if you’ve got something to say.
[Minor Leagues, Major Complaint: can there please be a moratorium on the “Minor This, Major That” story headline? It’s been done to death.]
The “Women in Baseball Seminar” also included a brief speech by Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner, part of a whirlwind Winter Meetings for the always-on-the-go industry leader. Perhaps the most significant thing on O’Conner’s agenda occurred on Wednesday afternoon, when he was unanimously re-elected (by league presidents) to a second four-year term.
I missed the election (held in a ballroom of the Hilton Anatole hotel), but was told that it was short and sweet. Here are a couple of photos taken by jack-of-all-trades MiLB.com colleague Danny Wild:
I also wrote about the annual anxiety attack that is the PBEO Job Fair, in which hundreds of ambitious young job-seekers seek to break into the wonderful world of Minor League Baseball. Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs!
But anxiety inducing or not, and whether or not one obtains a position, the Job Fair represents a great networking opportunity. The Winter Meetings are absolutely unparalleled when it comes to the number of baseball people in one place at one time (save for Baseball Heaven, of course).
And, finally, there was Dipquest 2011, in which I and two other intrepid travelers went on a pilgrimage to find what was allegedly the best dip in Dallas.
It all started the week before the Meetings, when loyal reader (and world-renowned DJ) Rex Doane wrote in that I should visit “Matt’s Rancho Martinez for the legendary Bob Armstrong dip. It’s a proud, artery-clogging D-Town tradition.”
When I mentioned Rex’s recommendation on Twitter, Trade Show vendor Chad Walters (founder of Lean Blitz) wrote back that he’d be up for the Dipquest (and he had a car!). Another Twitter recruit was job-seeker Steven Gold (@StevenPGold), who signed on within a half hour of our Tuesday evening departure.
Matt’s Rancho Martinez, from the outside:
Within hung a well-rendered (and somewhat inscrutable, to these Northeastern eyes) mural:
The Dip! (cheese, guacamole, sour cream, ground beef, and seasoning):
A Dip takes a Dip in the Dip!
That was followed by a “Monster” chicken-fried steak, done “Cowboy Style” (smothered with chili, served with side of rice and beans).
Was this Tex-Mex heaven?
Or was it Tex-Mex hell?
After three days of diligent Winter Meetings coverage, I was ready for a party. A Gala, even.
And wouldn’t you know it? That’s just what I got. On Wednesday evening a vast legion of buses cued up outside the Jade Entrance of the Hilton Anatole hotel in order to transport all manner of Minor League personnel to the annual Winter Meetings Gala.
We arrived at the Gala under the cover of darkness, and it took me a while to figure out where we were. After entering through a narrow side entrance, I aimlessly wandered through this mysterious facility’s labyrinthian corridors until coming across a particularly well-lit area.
Overcoming considerable feelings of trepidation, I cautiously navigated the above pathway until it opened up into the following tableau.
Oh, so it was a baseball stadium we were at, was it? I guess I could have seen that one coming. But what stadium? The brobdingnagian dimensions seemed to indicate a Major League facility, but since I’d fallen asleep on the bus I had no idea how long we’d traveled to get here. The lack of a roof, retractable or otherwise, ruled out the likes of Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, Toronto, and Milwaukee, but all else was fair game.
Eager to get to the bottom of this conundrum, I went in search of context clues.
This outfield sign didn’t help matters. I’ve been to ballparks throughout this great land, and one of the few constants are billboards in which a desperate species targeted for mass slaughter tries to appease their carnivorous overlords by advocating for the mass slaughter of a different species.
But wait! This avian murder-promoting bovine is wearing a Texas Rangers cap! Could it be that I was at none other than Rangers ballpark? A search for more clues seemed to validate this assumption.
The solitary lasso-wielding young men on the concourse were certainly Lone Stars.
But what finally convinced me that I was in Arlington was coming across this cup, which commemorates the unforgettable ALCS match-up between the Rangers and their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox.
The next question to flicker through my mind was just as pressing: Where is everyone? Save for solitary lasso-ers, the place was deserted. If a mechanical bull is in the stadium, but no one is there to ride it, then does it make a buck?
After much hypothermia-inducing wandering, I came across a cluster of industry executives staring toward the ground with intent focus.
There’s one thing, and one thing only, that could command that sort of rapt attention: Armadillo Racing!
Unfortunately that’s the best picture of the armadillos that I could muster, as my camera is morally adverse to any photographic attempt involving movement. But, yes, to reiterate: the 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings Gala featured Armadillo Racing as entertainment.
But in life, as in the dictionary, alcohol comes before armadillos. There were even more folks gathered at the upstairs Jose Cuervo Club.
With the location of my whereabouts finally ascertained and my heart therefore unencumbered, I went on a wandering spree.
But soon enough it came time to re-board the buses and head back to the Hilton Anatole. The following signs were up in the lobby, signifying an end to yet another industry confab.
Exactly one week from today, I (and much of the baseball world) will be in Dallas, TX for the annual Baseball Winter Meetings.
And the most important thing I can think of regarding my attendance at this annual confab is this: if you’re going to be there, I would like to meet you. Truly, one of the best things about the Meetings is that names can be put to faces (and vice versa). After a year spent largely in self-imposed writerly isolation at MiLB.com HQ, this is very important (for both networking and ego purposes).
So if you see me self-consciously wandering the hallways of lobbies of the Hilton Anatole, make sure to say hello.
And, as always, I’ll be on the lookout for unique stories. Speaking broadly, my angle every year is to illuminate what is going on at the Meetings outside of the national sports media’s Hot Stove spotlight. This generally includes mainstays such as the President’s Opening Remarks, the Bob Freitas Business Seminar, the Trade Show and the Job Fair. Please get in touch if you have any ideas or suggestions related to unique Winter Meetings perspectives (umpire? groundskeepers? scout?), people, and products.
As for me, this will be my fifth time at the Winter Meetings. A brief rundown of that which has come before:
2007: My first industry event, which I attended after a co-worker graciously allowed me to stay in his hotel room. I had no idea what I was doing (not even a camera to my name), and spent most of my time lost and disoriented within the seemingly inescapable Opryland Hotel. Most, but not all.
2008: Freeloading yet again, this time in Vegas. While I enjoyed the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the Pinball Hall of Fame, the extremely spread out locations made for a logistically difficult couple of days. And what happened in Vegas did indeed stay in Vegas, which makes sense from a spatial-temporal perspective.
2009: This time I was totally legit, with my own hotel room and everything, in Indianapolis. In fact, I was even a speaker during the “roundtable” portion of the Bob Freitas Business Seminar. I thought it went well enough, but since I have not been asked to speak again in any capacity it appears that might not be the case. (Also: this year featured the best Winter Meetings “Gala” I have yet attended.)
2010: A Fairy Tale experience within the grounds of Orlando’s Magic Kingdom, so long as your definition of “Fairy Tale” includes taking dozens of extremely short cab rides over the span of several days simply because there are no sidewalks anywhere. My time was anything but pedestrian, at least.
And now here we are, just one week away from 2011’s action-packed incarnation of Winter Meetings madness. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and I’m saying it now: Get in touch anytime, for any reason.