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MLB's Winter Meetings: Bobbleheads and Big-Time Deals

Tuesday, 4 Dec 2012 | 1:19 PM ET
MLB Winter meetings, Nashville, TN
Brian Shactman | CNBC
MLB Winter meetings, Nashville, TN

Major League Baseball's winter meetings are not what you think they are.

Movies have made it so that most people think that the super agents and team general managers huddle in hotel rooms, making deals, while journalists corral in lobbies, drinking coffee and wait for anyone of note to walk through or to make a blockbuster announcement.

That is NOT the case at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. First of all, it is a labyrinth of walkways, gardens and ecosphere-like glass ceilings.

There isn't one lobby. There might be five.

There are tourists mixed in with baseball people. Just fifteen yards from all the TV cameras, you can ride the Shrek Christmas ride.

It's bizarre.

On top of that, there are what feels like thousands of 20-something kids looking for jobs in baseball. They wander around the hallways with their folders and loose-fitting suits, looking more like religious proselytizers than baseball career seekers.

(Read More: MLB Players Fear the 'Fiscal Cliff', Too!)

There happens to be an actual job fair here, and while there are only hundreds of job seekers - it just FEELS like thousands.

MLB Winter meetings, Nashville, TN
Brian Shactman | CNBC
MLB Winter meetings, Nashville, TN

When it comes to witnessing the actual business of Major League Baseball and free-agent dealmaking, there's an expectation among many here that they'll be able to actually witness a big event.

Many think that baseball's top-tier management will stroll right through the lobbies and a swath of media and fans sit and wait by the array of television set-ups for this to happen.

But that only happens in the movies. No Jerry Maguire moments to witness here.

See here's the thing: General Managers only come through when they HAVE to, whether it's to make a scheduled TV interview or they've got to make good on another required activity.

Most can't stand running the media/fan gauntlet.

It's not that they don't like seeing the fans - it's just that do so can take up too much time. Teams like the Yankees told me that if General Manager Brian Cashman appears in a lobby, the crowd can keep him there for 90 minutes.

(Read More: No Crying Over Taxes in Baseball's Winter Meetings)

CNBC was only able to secure interviews with super agent Scott Boras and Cashman because we had a private room set up far away from the pack of people. No gauntlets - no crowds.

The crowds are also missing the actual news announcements.

Technology has taken over that.

On Tuesday morning when Dan Haren signed with the Washington Nationals for $13 million, the deal was announced on the internet.Twitter took care of everything.

EVERYTHING. News. Reaction. Everything.

What fans and tourists can see is the trade show.

Everything from foam fingers to fried food is on display. Baseball bats. Bobbleheads. Bounce houses! Anything a minor or major league park could want or need is for sale here.

And that's the MLB Winter Meetings. Bobbleheads, $13 million contracts and tourists... Together.

(Read More: Why Paying Up for YES Network Makes Sense for News Corp.)

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