Baseball’s annual winter meetings start today in Las Vegas. Three days of wheeling, dealing, laying groundwork and, it seems, Greco-Roman-style wrestling. At least, that’s according to a great story Evan Grant relayed in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News.
Apparently, at the winter meetings in Nashville in 2012, Jon Daniels was set to make a splash. He was going to rule the meetings.
After three days of what ifs and maybes, he went down to the hotel bar for a drink or two. There, he ran into Kevin Towers, then the GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, then-Diamondback’s manager Kirk Gibson, and then-GM of Tampa Bay Andrew Friedman.
Daniels, Grant reports, was trying to move Michael Young, sign Zack Geinke, re-sign Josh Hamilton, and trade for Justin Upton, who just happened to be a Diamondback. The Diamondbacks, coincidentally, coveted James Shields, who happened to be a Ray. All the kingmakers that could make that happen were in that bar.
So, the four men retreated back to Daniels’s room, along with Rangers assistants A.J. Preller and Josh Boyd, to work out a three-team deal. In the course of events, Gibson felt that Daniels and Friedman were trying to take advantage of his boss, so he started telling Daniels that he was going to “f*** him up.”
Eventually, in spite of Gibson’s continuing threats, the teams had worked out a deal including Mike Olt and Cody Buckel. But there was one more player Daniels was insisting on in return.
So, Gibson hatched a plan. Since he had now worked himself into an ire, he would wrestle the Rangers GM for it. If Daniel could last twenty seconds with Gibson, he would get that extra player he wanted. If not, no deal at all.
Daniels agreed. He was, literally, willing to die to make a deal.
Gibson was a six-foot, three-inch, 214-pound former All-American wide receiver from Michigan State. Daniels was the physical opposite, an Ivy League nerd whose body type more closely resembled Don Knotts. It was a mismatch more akin to Khris Davis versus Martin Perez.
According to Grant, Gibson stood up and proclaimed, “I’m going to head butt you, body slam you and then put you in a choke hold.” Which he happily proceeded to do.
Head butt, body slam, choke hold. Daniels crumpled to the ground with Gibson on top of him.
A horrified Kevin Towers was in one corner of the room desperately pleading for Daniels to tap out, to save himself. Preller was in another corner urging on his boss to fight through it, after all it meant getting that extra player they wanted. And Andrew Friedman was lying on his back laughing so hard about the whole thing he couldn’t contain himself.
Apparently, the fight lasted all of five seconds. Gibson pinned Daniels. Match over. Trade over.
Towers was so relieved that Daniels didn’t die that he agreed to the deal anyway. But with one stipulation. He had already made an offer to pitcher Brandon McCarthy. If McCarthy accepted the offer, Towers would have to back out of the deal. If McCarthy turned it down, he’d make the deal with the Rangers.
McCarthy accepted. The Diamonbacks left Nashville with a pitcher who, in a season and a half, would go 8-21 with an ERA near 5.00.
Daniels left Nashville with nothing.
Nothing except a nice rug burn. And a near death experience.