7) That night the official signing of Bonds was announced. A nine-man entourage made up of Bonds, his father, Bobby, Gilbert and six others in thousand-dollar suits entered the press room. Bonds looked like a heavyweight champion parading to the ring before a title fight. All nine stood at the podium.
"I can't help but thinking," said one American League general manager afterward, "that Bobby Bonds is going to be the hitting coach for the Giants, and Dusty Baker is going to be the manager—all because that's how Barry wants it."
8) The DO NOT DISTURB sign seldom left the door handle of Oriole manager John Oates's room when he was in Louisville. There's no harder-working baseball man than Oates, but he spent most of the meetings out of sight. "I like to talk about baseball, but no one is talking about baseball," he said dejectedly.
It was a waste of time for Oates to attend the meetings. Baltimore had no meaningful conversations with any team because they are in the process of being sold, thereby paralyzing any major player movement. This is the fault of club owner Eli Jacobs, who made his fortune buying and selling businesses. That has been his plan for the Orioles: Jacobs bought them for $70 million in December 1988 and put them on the market in June '91 for a reported $200 million. In the last six months financial woes in his other businesses caused a number of banks to file suit against him, so Jacobs is holding out on the Orioles: He won't sell them, except for a maximum price, but he won't improve them by spending a lot of money on players. "Hey, good news," one former Baltimore employee said as the meetings convened. "Eli didn't get sued today."
9) Free-agent third baseman Mike Pagliarulo, one of the heroes of the Minnesota Twins' 1991 World Series victory, was wandering through the lobby of the Gait House looking for a job. Despite the heavy spending on free agents in Louisville, many of the remaining free agents—there were 89 as of Monday—will be jobless come the end of January.
For every $4 million-a-year player, there are two decent players who can't find a job and many more young players making the minimum salary of $109,000.
10) On the afternoon of Dec. 9, Bud Selig looked tired and dazed: He's the owner of the Brewers and has been the acting commissioner since Fay Vincent was forced to resign on Sept. 7. Selig also serves on seemingly every major committee in baseball. He's a man who can bring people together, who leads by consensus, but that's very difficult to do with the 28 major league owners, some of whom dislike each other as much as they dislike the Major League Players Association.
Standing at the podium in the press room, Selig spoke softly and deliberately, without passion, as he gave updates on the Schott situation, the reopener, divisional realignment and the search for a new commissioner. "This business cannot operate without a strong commissioner," he said. "My seven-year-old granddaughter Emily understands that."
Only moments after Selig addressed the press, there was another shocking bit of news: Carl Barger, president of the Florida Marlins, had suffered a heart attack in a hallway just outside a conference room and died. It was a tragic ending to a miserable winter meeting.
In the last few years baseball talk has rarely been about the game itself. "We all grew up reading box scores and figuring batting averages," said Stan Kasten, president of the Braves. "We have to get back to that." That prospect has never looked less likely than it did last week.