Whiskey is flowing at baseball winter meetings

December 10, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Question: Where can you get a free corn dog, cup of dippin’ dots, a swill of beer and a shot of whiskey?

Answer: The same place you can bounce like a kangaroo in an inflatable house, find guys hitting fungos across a massive convention room and see a man use a saw and belt sander to turn a tree trunk into a 32-ounce baseball bat.
 
The annual baseball Winter Meetings of course, which are being held through today at the Indiana Convention Center.

Attendance is down this year about 10 percent, with 5,000 attendees coming to town. But that’s enough, reported the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, to book the four host hotels solid this week. Direct visitor spending is projected to hit $4 million, and the event brings in lots of Major League Baseball executives who have either rarely or never been to Indianapolis.
 
Not to mention an army of media including ESPN, Fox Sports and about every baseball beat writer nationwide. The activities in the media room alone are good entertainment. It’s great exposure for the city.

But when I got my personal tour of the happenings from Indianapolis Indians Chairman Max Schumacher yesterday, I was more interested in the side show at the trade show than MLB trade deals brewing behind closed doors.

Of course, I was expecting to see makers of baseball gloves, rosin, bats, etc. But I wasn’t expecting to see more than a dozen bat manufacturers. Before yesterday, I couldn’t name two batmakers without Louisville in their names. Yesterday I saw batmakers from Canada to Japan. Oh, and one from Indiana, Valpo-based Hoosier Bat Co.

The competition among batmakers was a little surprising, but who knew the bobblehead and foam finger industry was so hotly contested. There was a dealer for everything you can find at a major or minor league ballpark. And I mean everything.

Need a seat, no problem. The show was replete with bleacher and box seat sales booths. Scoreboards too. And not the manual ones. The electronic jobs that ring up a six-figure price tag.

Need a few marketing ideas. How about ads that can be pasted on turnstiles or in the bottoms of cups. Want a back yard that looks like the outfield at Yankee Stadium. I’m sure the booth operators at John Deere or some of the other lawn equipment makers would be glad to give you a tutorial.

Mascot uniforms? There were several manufacturers to chose from. And displays and modeling too.

You want entertainers? The baseball meetings have those on display too. I mean the professional kind. There were San Diego Chicken look-a-likes, a guy who did a nice soft show wearing a pair of nerd glasses and floods, and another who played multiple instruments simultaneously. Now that’s talent.

And the names some of these companies come up with. There’s Sink or Swim Enterprises and my personal favorite, Pointless Products Inc. Now those are names that engender confidence of potential customers and scream “Gotta have it!”

Alas, before you come to the conclusion that it's all fun and games at the winter baseball meetings, one vendor told me his company books more than 55 percent of its business for the year during these four days. And that's a seven-figure sum, he whispered to me, right after asking me not to publish his name. It is indeed a rare time when everyone in minor and major league baseball is in one place at one time.

But my mind kept wondering back to the whiskey. It looked like some of the harried 20-somethings down at the job fair could use a shot. But I’ve never seen whiskey sold or served at any professional sports event I’ve attended. Not even in the media room. And since Ron Artest wasn’t there, I wasn’t sure who the target market was.

But this was no rot gut. Even I could tell that looking at the fancy bottle. I was informed that the good stuff (and apparently the hard stuff) is reserved for the high rollers in exclusive stadium restaurants and luxury boxes—possibly even the owners suites.

Ahhh, I get it. I imagine that offering looks pretty good to some team owners. I’m guessing a shot or two has been tossed back at the conclusion of many a Chicago Cubs season.
 

ADVERTISEMENT
  • could use a shot
    It's so cold outside today in Indy, I feel like I could use a shot of something myself. Just to keep warm.
  • Cub fan
    I'm a Cub fan, and I feel like I could use a shot of whiskey most days. I still have nightmares of Billy Buck.
  • replant?
    "The show was replant with bleacher and box seat sales booths."

    I don't understand this sentence. What does "replant" mean?
  • plant again?
    I think it means to plant again, as in, "I really need to replant these marijuana plants." Not sure how that involves bleachers and box seats, however. But what do I know? The world is replete with things I can't quite get a grasp on.

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.

ADVERTISEMENT