USA Today Sports
Nashville, TN- Good morning from day two at the Winter Meetings, where the media room is starting to fill up even though people were in the hotel bars until very late. Most are armed with coffee and $10 breakfast sandwiches, and a few rows behind me a writer is getting alerts on his cellphone, but instead of beeping, it's audio of Homer Simpson saying "D'oh!" over and over again.
It's not the least bit annoying.
The afternoon and evening were pretty quiet in these parts yesterday. There was some hustle to get to the manager's press conferences, but beyond that, it was a calm afternoon with little trade activity or free agent excitement. Perhaps today will be the day that big things start happening. Dan Haren is off to the Nationals pending a physical to start our day, but guys like Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton still need new uniforms.
As far as I can tell, no one got permanently lost in the Opryland labyrinth yesterday, though there were several trails of breadcrumbs leading to and from the media room. Most people have employed the buddy system, just in case you make a wrong turn in the Delta atrium and end up in Shrek's house or at Kung Fu Panda's* pagoda you'll have a witness.
*Since this is the Winter Meetings and there are baseball players everywhere, I should clear up I'm not referring to Pablo Sandoval here, but there's an actual man who walks around in a Kung Fu Panda costume waving at the children and dancing to music in his little pagoda in the atrium. I assure you it's as creepy as it sounds.
The Winter Meetings are a lot of work, but in the evenings there's a certain element of play, as well. Last night I left the Christmas-bio dome in favor of dinner in a local eatery and went to a place called Etch, where the whiskey smash was fantastic, the grits were infused with ginger, and there was a butter tasting. I submit that you haven't lived until you've stared down at plate filled with different kinds of butter (duck, goat, truffle, and smoked Plugrá, I know you were wondering) picking which you should eat first.
One of the most interesting things about the Opryland Hotel is that there are a variety of different bars, all of which seem to cater to a different audience. The Fuse Sports Club is a lounge/sports bar (if that's a thing) akin to what you'd see in Vegas, but in Nevada they would allow gambling and there wouldn't be hundreds of job-seeker types who still haven't mastered the art of growing facial hair. We lasted roughly five minutes in there, before the sight of Ed Hardy T-shirts and spray tans got to be too much. Findley's Irish Pub is a popular hangout for media types, especially the sabermetrics crowd, and for two nights in a row, a Celtic band called Def Leprechaun* has played to a packed house. It turns out that the mandolin is most enjoyable in small doses, and no amount of BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout is enough to ignore the fact that they're covering "Sweet Caroline" again.
*They don't play any Def Leppard songs, and before you ask, they don't have a drummer at all. The closest we got to an actual Def Leppard cover was a brief tease of "Pour Some Guinness On Me." They have merchandise for sale on their website, including baseball tees with their logo available on their website for $20.
The main lobby bar, Falls Bar, was packed last night with executives, media, and managers -- Jim Leyland, Bruce Bochy, Terry Collins, and Ron Washington -- and even though I was very tired, the people-watching was just too good to tuck myself in at a reasonable hour. Perhaps the fact that everyone was out enjoying the evening means there had been heavy negotiating yesterday and that folks just needed to relax.
Day two is still quiet, but we'll keep you up to date on any breaking news from the Opryland Hotel, and we'll give you updates from some of the manager's press conferences lined up for this afternoon.