Pseudo-Celebrity Sightings and More: Winter Meetings 2009

Just got back this morning from the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. I think I can speak for everybody in our office when I say it was informative and it was fun. But I speak solely for me when I say it was the best run of quasi-celebrity sightings I’ve ever had.

A lot of people want to be able to say they saw Tim Kurkjian or Tony LaRussa (who, rumor has it, was wearing a name tag for someone named “Buddy Smith” as if to throw people off the trail of one of the most recognizable people in baseball) or Lou Piniella (who, rumor has it, is so tan that it looks like this was the first time since the season ended he’s left the beach). Well, not me. I’ve seen all those people at Winter Meetings in the past, I’ve stood 15 feet away from the President of the United States, and I’ve seen Clay Buchholtz order a Mountain Dew from a concession stand at a Double-A ballpark and be mobbed by autograph hounds within 5.1 seconds. They’re just people. But when you see a person who is just famous enough to recognize, yet obscure enough to not warrant news coverage or a reality TV show, that is my kind of celebrity sighting. People who qualify for this include Huey Lewis (sans the News), Super Dave Osborne, LeVar Burton and Carlos Baerga, my favorite baseball player growing up. You know, people who you see and ask, “Wait, isn’t that [pseudo-celebrity]?” To which someone asks, “Who the heck is [pseudo-celebrity]?” THAT, my friends, is my kind of celebrity sighting.

The pseudo-celebrity seen most often at the meetings wasn’t a baseball person at all. While walking toward our hotel, Tony DesPlaines and I saw a guy walking around with freakishly long legs. As in, if he stood straight up with his feet apart, a normal-sized person could walk  between his legs without leaning over. Well, if it wasn’t Will Perdue, best known for his work with the Chicago Bulls’ early-90s dynasty,
staying at the same hotel we were (because he’s coaching for the
Portland Trail Blazers, who were in town to play the Pacers). None of us said anything, but I think Will knew we knew who he was. Some people would have said hello or asked him what it was like to play with Michael Jordan. I decided my one question for Will Perdue would be how it felt to be a part of the greatest pre-game intros in sports history. And if our paths were to ever cross again, I probably would ask.

In second place in the non-baseball category is Hersey Hawkins. That’s right, the 1998-99 NBA Sportsmanship Award winner. I thought this was especially weird since Hawkins’ Seattle team lost to Perdue’s Bulls in the NBA Finals in 1995-96. Small world.

In the baseball category, our staff met a pretty heavy hitter at the Padres’ reception Tuesday night. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who recognized him right away because I’m arguably the biggest baseball nerd in the office. Anyway, the guy came over, said hello, introduced himself to everyone (by name, not title), shook hands, and walked away. People asked, “Who the heck was that guy?” Ladies and gentlemen, the owner of your San Diego Padres, Jeff Moorad! He seemed like a very nice guy. The new GM, Jed Hoyer also talked to the group for a few minutes about how important it is to grow the Padres’ organization from within, which bodes well for, you know, minor-league affiliates like us. We also met Chris Long, who is the Padres’ Senior Quantitative Analyst. In other words, he crunches stats like a madman. In conversation, he referenced Jaff Decker’s OPS in high school. I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that Chris has won every fantasy baseball league he’s ever been in.

There’s also a Trade Show at the Winter Meetings, where companies try to sell their stuff to baseball teams. Just about every entertainment act the TinCaps bring to Parkview Field was there. Myron Noodleman was running around, Breakin’ BBoy McCoy busted some moves (in a TinCaps jersey, no less) and Jake the Diamond Dog was hanging out looking bored. I also ran into Ben Hill who writes Ben’s Biz Blog and other things for MLB.com. He’s kind of a celebrity to normal people because he’s all over MiLB.com, but when you put him into a situation where he’s surrounded by people who work in baseball, he’s like William Shatner at a Star Trek convention.

So there you have it… Who did I see at the Winter Meetings? Will Perdue, Hersey Hawkins, Jeff Moorad, the key to winning every fantasy baseball league that ever existed, Myron Noodleman and Ben Hill.

I should probably also tell you that I did more than just walk around looking to be starstruck. I went to a few seminars, mostly dealing with team websites (despite the fact that the Internet is a fad and was not available in downtown Indianapolis). If you like the new TinCaps.com, there will be another facelift coming, hopefully before Opening Day. It should be more exciting than this.

That’s all for today… I’ll have another post tomorrow about this off-season’s Battle of Parkview Field and a list you won’t want to miss.

Take care!

DW

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