NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – The Baseball Winter Meetings at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, in Maryland overlooks the Patomic river with Washington D.C. close by. An enormous place, surrounded by a 2000 room hotel.
What gets done, in terms of trades and free agent signings at meetings, in the lobby, over drinks at the bar or dinner, or in the private suites up above, remains to be seen. There are three floors, filled with activity. TV annalists giving their opinions and predictions, over and over and over again. A mass of over two thousand credentialed people, weaving through the massive hallways, atrium and lobby, in what seemed like a choreographed performance at Lincoln Center.
I sat in a area with a few seats, watching this never ending flow of people. A young man would sit down next to me and I would ask him why he was here. We would have a nice conversation, he would leave and another would come by and sit next to me. Then I would have another interesting conversation. This happened all day with these young men who were looking to get into professional baseball.
It was sad to see the enthusiasm in the morning, turn into a bit of sadness by midday and then utter frustration by evening. The competition by hundreds of these smart, goal oriented young people, for a few low paying jobs, is cruel to say the least.
MLB claims to offer opportunities, to begin an amazing career in baseball. They charge a large fee, for the chance to be interviewed by many minor league teams. Most of these jobs seem to be in ticket sales. I wonder how many front office people in the major leagues, started out in ticket sales for the Oklahoma Okee Dokeeys?
Unfortunately the fact is, that most real career jobs in baseball, much like many other businesses, follow that age old formula of, who do you know? My observations from day one of this event, are mixed with the excitement of seeing everyone in baseball, all in the same place at the same time, to the uncomfortableness of seeing MLB take advantage of these, smart young men and women.
Any business that earns billions of dollars every season, and then takes money for the opportunity to maybe get a ten minute interview, for a next to nothing paying job, is indicative of the bottom line. Making money.
Editor’s Note: William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and advanced scout for numerous teams in Major League Baseball