POSTCARDS FROM THE 2011 WINTER MEETINGS #1

As the 2011 Winter Meetings commence today at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Oakland A’s beat writers Susan Slusser, Joe Stiglich and Jane Lee will scour the hotel lobby and vigorously work their cell phones in search of any noteworthy development on the free agent or trade front. In fact, I just spotted a contingent of my old Japanese media friends in the lobby, who are still riding herd on the Hideki Matsui story and where he might land in 2012, so add them to the list.  In light of Billy Beane’s recent comments about the club sitting in wait-and-see mode until Major League Baseball’s Blue Ribbon Committee comes down with its ballpark recommendation – after nearly three years of study, we might add – expectations are rather low that we’ll see much action this week in the Lone Star State. However, if you’re part of the A’s Faithful, I can offer you a few things to look for during the meetings.

Beyond the reports filed by our Bay Area reporters covering the event, you’ll be treated to hours of live coverage by national TV networks and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.  Later today, Beane will appear on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show at 3 p.m. PST, followed by segments on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight at approximately 3:25 p.m. and on CSN Bay Area’s Chronicle Live program at 7 p.m. In addition, skipper Bob Melvin joins MLB Network Radio on Sirius/FM with Mike Ferrin and former Mets’ GM Steve Phillips at 3:30 p.m.  Melvin also is scheduled to appear Tuesday on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show at 2:45 p.m. PST and later on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Chronicle Live.

It should be interesting to see the reaction Billy gets this week, particularly in the hotel lobby where fans congregate. His already high profile has been elevated to near Rock Star status with the movie premiere of Moneyball.  Being protrayed by Brad Pitt will tend to do that.  While Billy has been very gracious with his media time, he tends to shy away from the bright lights in favor of spending time in the A’s baseball suite during the Winter Meetings.  He and Assistant GM David Forst, well aware of the team’s unsettled outfield situation and need for some middle-of-the-order hitters, will no doubt be laying the groundwork for possible future deals.  Beyond that, it’s difficult to predict if anything of substance will materialize this week.

One area of interest here will be a couple of Hall of Fame announcements.  By the time you read this blog, the Golden Era Committee might have revealed this year’s inductee.  Former A’s owner Charlie Finley is one of those being considered.  While he may not be the favorite this time around, there’s no doubt he is worthy of the honor.  Beyond assembling a team that won three straight World Series championships from 1972-74 and produced four Hall of Famers in Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson and Dick Williams, Finley also impacted the history of the game through his innovative ideas.  Among them were the designated hitter in the American League and night baseball in the World Series.  Also, this Wednesday at 8 a.m. PST, the Hall of Fame will announce the 2012 Ford C. Frick winner, the broadcaster elected to Cooperstown.  Of course, our beloved Bill King, who so eloquently described A’s baseball for 25 years before his untimely death, is among the favorites.  Let’s cross our fingers and hope this is finally the Year of the King.  If it’s good news Wednesday, I would expect thousands of Bay Area sports fans to shout, in unison, that old familiar refrain made famous by Bill: “Holy Toledo!”

This is the first of a series of daily blogs I plan to write this week. I hope it brings you closer to the Winter Meetings here in Dallas. We appreciate you thinking about us during the offseason.

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