While there are plenty of news junkies this week in Nashville at the baseball winter meetings, the absolute best part is running into people you’ve known for a long time or have wanted to meet for a long time. On Tuesday, I spoke briefly with former Orix manager Terry Collins, who is now riding high and aiming higher with the NL champion New York Mets.
Later that day, burdened by the jet lag albatross, I ran into former Triple Crown-winner Boomer Wells and former Seibu Lion Terry Whitfield. Boomer’s the greatest and as usual had several stories to make my day. Terry is someone I’d wanted to talk to ever since fate steered me toward Japan. I had been a fan of his with the San Francisco Giants, and I remember him coming back to the Dodgers after he left Seibu.
I also ran into Charlie Manuel, who told me that what he got out of Japan was the lesson that the world doesn’t revolve around Charlie Manuel — which we now know is true, because science has proved it revolves around Boomer Wells.
Nippon Ham Fighters scout Matt Winters, whose quest for beer nirvana is awe-inspiring, said he’s “trying to catch up with Boomer,” which seemed an impossible chase, given Boomer’s inspired start. But Boomer, the former New York Jets lineman and Japanese baseball legend, is being a sport and has slimmed down considerably, looking much fitter than he has in a long time. Man that was good to see.
The good thing about Opryland is that you don’t have to ride the boats to get from one end of the facility to the other, but the sight of the Baseball Winter Meetings a HUGE facility. One element of the meetings is the continual stream of front-office people mingling in lobbies and corridors. At Opryland, the miracle mile, is a bridge near the lobby.
After a slow start on Sunday, in which the main piece of news was a “reported” signing of Hisashi Iwakuma by the Los Angeles Dodgers, things picked up a little bit on Monday as the managers press conferences began and more and more team officials and agents arrived. Monday, however, brought no clarity to Iwakuma’s status, as agent Adam Katz, who also represents Carp ace Kenta Maeda, refusing to comment on a deal that has not been completed.
Maeda is currently in posting limbo as his paperwork is cleared by MLB, so Katz said he was as free with his words as he’ll ever get regarding the two-time Sawamura Award winner.
“I expect that once the process starts, I’m not going to be providing updates, unfortunately. It’s not something I’ve done in all my years of representing ballplayers. So this will probably be it,” Katz said.