Baseball's winter meetings get started tomorrow in Indianapolis. Most fans, based on the media coverage, probably assume it's a bunch of general managers and agents getting together in hotel suites to talk about trades and free agents.
In truth, that's only a small percentage of what goes on.
There are, in fact, meetings at the winter meetings. The GMs meet to discuss rules changes and other issues within the game. There are also meetings that involve the amateur scouting directors, athletic trainers, strength coaches, traveling secretaries, media relations directors and the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Some teams bring 15-20 people with them. Suites are outfitted with laptops, whiteboards, printers and catered food. The beat writers usually meet with the GMs once a day in the suite. A few years ago, Brian Cashman left some fake notes on the table and watched with glee as the writers tried to read them while not being conspicuous about it.
The winter meetings also encompass the annual convention for minor league baseball. The executives of those teams get together to talk about stadium operations, marketing and other issues. There also is a giant baseball trade show where you can see just about anything connected to baseball: bats, gloves, hats, uniforms, spikes, sunglasses, ballpark giveaways, stadium garbage cans (seriously), bases, scoreboards, etc.
Young job-seekers flood the area, shoving their resume or card in the hands of anybody who might be able to give them a job. After the publication of Moneyball, it seems like half the baseball-loving students at the top universities decided they wanted to be the next Billy Beane or Theo Epstein.
Every beat writer and baseball columnist in the country shows up, stalking the hallways and lobbies looking for a scoop or something to throw on their blog or Twitter page. MLB sets up a large work room complete with wireless internet and a stage for any announcements.
It all gets started tomorrow morning and ends Thursday morning with the Rule 5 Draft. I'll be there along with Amalie Benjamin and Nick Cafardo and we'll have dozens of updates on this blog.
Check back later on for a preview on what the Red Sox will be up to.