Fear and Loathing at Winter Meetings: Part 8

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Max in a black and red suit ahead of calling a early December 2018 women’s ice hockey game at Conte Forum

By: Max Wolpoff

REFLECTIONS IN NOLA

NEW ORLEANS – Instead of waiting another 20 minutes for the “free” Internet to work at Louis Armstrong International Airport, I started writing this epilogue on a Microsoft Word document until I can reach my final destination.

In the last week, my family and I have trekked around Miami, Florida and New Orleans, Louisiana looking at law schools for next fall. All the while, the seven parts I wrote for this series got published online. It was strange to look back at something that happened a month ago, read what I thought at the time, and still believe that publishing something so extensive was the right decision.

Writers take risks whenever they publish. There is always the chance that a source could be lying, some analysis point may be overlooking an important fact, or that an opinion is so controversial that it prompts unwarranted personal attacks on the writer’s character. Thankfully, in a piece that was entirely my opinion and mine alone, the only feedback I have received has been positive.

Which sadly brings me where I am now: sitting in an airport over an hour early for a flight back to the D.C. region with no reliable Internet to save this draft onto our site. It is Thursday, Jan. 17. I have spent the last five days south of home with my family trying to make a better determination of what law school is right for me. Of the ten schools I completed applications for around New Year’s Day, four are now off the “visit” list.

Of the law schools I looked at, most operate as rolling admissions schools. I send the application in, I wait forever for my paper transcript to arrive from a transcript service to the Law School Admissions Council’s offices in Pennsylvania, I gently encourage (read: harass) the people writing letters of recommendation to actually write them, and then I wait. Tom Petty was right: the waiting is the hardest part. Each school has a different timeline – with the shortest at two weeks and the longest at eight to twelve weeks for the ten I applied to – and that means decisions are to be made later.

As detailed on an episode of Scarlet and White, I traveled to Milwaukee to visit Marquette Law School midway through the semester. And to watch Mike McCarthy’s last win as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Having visited BU a few weeks later, the next two to knock out were Miami and Tulane.

Why law school? That is a story better reserved for another time and a different article, but I will spare a thought to why I am pursuing this course of action over finding a job straight out of BU. It directly relates to that extended weekend I spent in Las Vegas last month, hence the reason it is the backdrop of the epilogue to this adventure.

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Photo by Max Wolpoff

The Vegas Winter Meetings yielded a grand total of zero job offers, 30 business cards, at least 10 new Facebook friends, and a few “tell me how things go” emails sitting in my inbox. Truth be told, I expected less.

Once I saw day one of the convention unfold, I knew there was a limited chance I ended up with anything resembling a serious job offer. That reality slowly set in the longer I sat around in the waiting area with my fellow job seekers. I did not do nearly enough to put myself in a better position to change that, instead opting for the comfort of trying to finish essays for two classes.

Weeks after the convention ended, the organization that ran the whole racket sent an email asking me to complete a survey for them and future job fairs. I did not hold back, at times slipping into the anger that I had pounding away at my computer while my phone continued to sit next to me as I devolved into a hopeless mess. I told the job fair organizers exactly how I felt. All responses are “anonymous” according to the survey, so I will not write the same things here so as to avoid detection.

All the while, I tried to maintain my conviction that the sport is different from the game. I love the game of baseball. There is a certain beauty to the way the game is played: the strategy, the field dimensions not needing to be uniform in every ballpark, the connection to American history, and how much it means to play for the home team. The sport, however, is all the business stuff: contract and salary negotiations, the messy arbitration process, hiring and firing of front office staff, trades, security, and the convoluted process of stadium building. The sport of baseball is in trouble. The game of baseball remains great.

EPILOGUE

Thank you to my editors at WTBU Sports for the chance to write in a style I loved from the moment I read it. Everything you read over the last eight posts is an attempt to emmulate the style of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, author of the series-turned-books Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, both books I highly reccomend. I hope I did Dr. Thompson’s legacy some justice.

I want to take a few paragraphs to explain why I agreed to write this series and why I opted to greenlight its publication after nearly two weeks of review.

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings were a convention shrouded in mystique when I arrived at Mandalay Bay. For most of my time as a baseball fan, this was the place where the hundreds of trusted baseball men gathered to determine the fate of many an expiring contract and set up future trades. As a fan, going to these meetings held no value for me. What am I going to do? Ask the general manager for an autograph?

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Photo by Tomas Del Coro via Wikimedia Commons

Once I started on the track to a journalism degree at BU, I learned there was a major job fair at Winter Meetings in addition to all the stuff I already knew. I went this year figuring it was my best chance to break into the baseball jobs I wanted. There were a few advice columns about the job fair, but I wanted to write my own story and do it in a way never before done.

I am not one to believe what I am told. I like to experience things for myself and draw my own conclusions. This job fair would be no different.

In addition to being a good thing to publish during the site’s slow period in the school year’s intermission, I wanted to explore writing in a new style at an event where I was unsure of what to expect.

As a conclusion to the series, I am dissapointed in what happened. I imagined the series ending with a triumphant moment of finally getting that one call to change my course of history. That would not be the case. Instead, I will return to Boston University for the spring semester and finish out a full four-year degree. Scarlet and White will continue on a sporadic schedule to allow me travel time to visit more law schools on my list, but it will continue.

I have limited advice to give to future attendees of this job fair. The best I could tell you is to take more business classes, apply to jobs online before the convention starts if you can, learn how to sell, and spend as little time in the waiting room as possible. Also, separate what you think about baseball as played on the field from baseball as a business.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The views expressed in every part of this series are mine and mine alone. With the option of softening my writing in the aftermath or staying close to the truth of the moment, I chose the latter every time.

I cannot thank enough my editors and friends, Andrew Mason and Matt Doherty, for allowing me the license to write this series as I saw fit. Thank you to Chad Jones for suggesting the style on Scarlet and White. Thank you to Brandon Alter of the University of South Carolina for being there for me to yell into the phone receiver when I needed it during this frustrating trip.

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Max (left) and Matt Doherty (right). Photo by Andrew Mason

Thank you to my family, both of my parents and my brother, for their constant support, even if they thought I was being too harsh at times.

Thank you to the people I met at the job fair, especially to my fellow job seekers who went through this struggle as well. I know our exact experiences differed, but I am happy that you read my story. Congratulations to the ones I met who found employment at this crazy convention. You earned what you got.

Lastly, thank you to the people who read the entire series from start to finish. I hope you read more from our site in the future.

Author: Max Wolpoff

Max is in his final undergraduate year, and prefers not to be remembered for his now-infamous viral goal call (https://russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2016/12/12/boston-university-hockey-announcer-channels-john-walton-to-deliver-viral-goal-call/). Between classes, applying for law school, and working for the Worcester Blades, he co-hosts “Scarlet and White” and writes the “This Morning in Sports” column. Max is from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. Follow Max on Twitter @Max_Wolpoff and on Instagram @maxwolpoff for the latest #MaxWolpoffSuitOfTheGame.

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