A Few of My Favorite Winter Meetings Traditions

The Winter Meetings are here again, that magical time of year when Twitter accounts spring to life with the hottest of hot stove rumors. Anyone who follows baseball closely is going to be familiar with the various quirks of this particular event. Here are a few of my favorite annual traditions.

Of course, no hot stove staple is more established than the mystery team. It’s like the baseball-centric edition of Unsolved Mysteries, with Jon Heyman as Robert Stack and it’s a win-win for agents and reporters alike. The thought of bidding against an unknown powerhouse will goose real suitors to up their offers. It allows every fan to think maybe, just maybe, their team will be the one to add that key piece. For a moment we all become Lloyd Christmas: “So you’re telling us there’s a chance???”

What’s better than being given false hope? Why, actual hope, of course. Thinking for a moment that your team has actually gotten what you always wanted. Which brings us to fake Twitter accounts. I must admit I’ve been burned repeatedly by these, some of which look super real, with blue check marks and correct spelling of names and everything. Then you go and do something rash like retweet or make a comment about the big move that just went down. Then comes the dreaded “Dude, fake account” response and requisite shaming.

Just be strong, people, it happens to the best of us. I mean, even ESPN fell for a fake Ben Zobrist trade in 2014. On second thought, that isn’t really reassuring and I now feel bad again.

Despite the action, one problem baseball writers have during the Winter Meetings is how to keep reader interest up. Once a rumor gets out there, how do you keep people constantly coming back to your content? Much like the host of a cheesy reality show, writers add inflated drama to keep fans interested when nothing is happening. Momentum is building to a deal with team X. Player Y will likely be moved by tonight. The Jon Lester sweepstakes even featured a Bachelor-like elimination of potential suitors. In the end, the Giants and Red Sox went home and the Cubs got the final rose.

But of all these, my favorite part of the Winter Meetings is what happens at the end: the declaration of offseason winners. Perhaps no takes are hotter than those on Friday after the Winter Meetings. To quote Bill Walton quoting John Wooden, activity is often mistaken for achievement during the offseason. The act of making a big splash is seen as winning the winter in baseball.

Just ask recent off-season title holders like the Padres, White Sox, and Diamondbacks. On the other hand, the Cubs were offseason winners last year and that panned out pretty well for them. If you think I put this part last just so I could end by saying the Cubs won the World Series, you’re right on the money.

Enjoy the rest of the Winter Meetings, everyone!

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