Meetings, meetings, meetings. I've always worked in small companies, and avoided big ones, and a big reason for this is because I despise meetings so much. How do I hate thee, meetings? Let me count the ways.
The meeting as ritual. These are the meetings where everybody knows what the decisions are going to be, everybody knows what the objections are going to be and who are going to make them, and everybody just shows up at the table and plays their predestined roles.
Take, for example, the current stage of the Fremont ballpark, 12-18 months of utterly predictable meetings. Know this: the A's are moving to Fremont. It's going to happen. Oh, sure, somebody's going to say "there aren't enough parking spaces" or "the school playground is too small" or "the traffic--oh, the traffic!" but clearly, unless somebody who has to spend money on this actually says, "this is too expensive", this move is going to happen. Wake me up when it's over.
The meeting as email. How many meetings have you been in where someone just stands up and reads something? I'll bet you anything I can read faster than you can. Thanks for bringing me into this room and slowing me down. Next time, just send me an email.
Is there really, truly a good reason for the winter meetings anymore? I know the A's hate these meetings (they're usually the last to arrive and the first to leave), and I don't blame them. With email and mobile phones these days, what information is more efficiently transferred face-to-face? Do you need to spend two days travelling from Oakland to Nashville and back, for example, to find out if the Arizona Diamondbacks will give up Justin Upton in a package for Dan Haren?
The meeting for meeting's sake. Some people actually like meetings. I have a hard time comprehending how this could be, but I understand that this is the case. And that's why such people build careers in management, because spending their day in meetings is actually enjoyable for them. Whether anything actually gets accomplished or not isn't really the point; the point is the joy of discussion itself. Well, good for you, career-meetings-person and your fellow birds of a feather, but do you have to drag the rest of us into your inane chatter?
"Hi, my name is Brian. Thanks for coming to this meeting. I called you all here to see if you would be willing to send me some power hitters in exchange for any of my players not named Cain or Lincecum. Let's go around the table. Billy, let's start with you."
"I don't have any power hitters, either. Well, except for Dan Johnson. I'll could probably give you Johnson for Lincecum, if you really twist my arm."
And if the rumors are true that Billy Beane is going to ask more in return for Dan Haren than the Twins are asking for Johan Santana, well, they're just adding to the inanity of the whole thing, aren't they? No GM who has those kinds of prospects is dumb enough to give Beane that much. So then, we come back full circle to #1: we can figure out these conversations in advance. Beane says "I want two A+ prospects and then some", Team B says, "I'll give you an A, a B, and a C", and Beane says thanks, but no thanks, and then everyone goes home and nothing gets done.
Let's cut through the crap. Here's what I think Beane really wants: for each player he's selling, he wants at least one player who he's confident will end up just as valuable as the player he's giving up. And then on top of that, he wants one or two or three other players who are somewhat less talented, but could pan out, just in case he's wrong about the first guy. So basically, he needs to waste the time of 28 GMs who won't do that to find the one who overvalues the A's player and undervalues his own. And he needs to repeat this process five or six times with Haren, Blanton, Street, etc.
Goodness gracious, how torturous. Am I ever glad I do not work in a major league front office.