Friday, December 12, 2008

Vegas, WInter Meetings and the 7th Level of Hell

24 hours earlier I had been two-stepping with an attractive IU co-ed on the floor of Las Vegas' Bellagio while sipping on a double Jack & Coke speaking Spanglish with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

But at the moment, I found myself in a familiar predicament- stuck in Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. The deep South gets snow about once every 30 years and one of those times had to be while I was scheduled to fly through it. I tried to remember how in God's name I was in the 7th level of Hell again and it struck me:

"Hey John, I'm planning on going to the Baseball Winter Meetings with my sport management class for the job fair," my friend Josh said, "You should come since you're looking for a sports job too."

Hmmmm, wasn't sure what to say about that one. I did have a credit for a plane ticket and splitting a hotel four ways in Vegas is pretty darn cheap. Hesitantly, I made my reservations for the 2008 Baseball Winter Meetings.

Despite having a lot of fun, everything that could go wrong did. My original early Monday morning flight was cancelled and my late morning flight was delayed. By the time I finally arrived in Vegas, I missed the whole first day of the job fair. That night, I lost $50 going 0 for 5 on five straight hands of $10 a hand Blackjack. However, I did meet a lot of cute girls.

Ah yes ... young, attractive women ... let's just say hiring managers have a weakness for them. I witnessed an official from the Texas Rangers walked straight up to one of the girls in our group and offer her a job. She told him she was just a sophomore and he bashfully said: "Oh really ..."


By mid-morning Tuesday, I realized that most clubs with full-time jobs already had their interview schedules full and minds made up on those candidates. I interviewed for "marketing/promotions" internship with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox but when I discovered they were really looking for a video production and evening sales intern, I had to decline. I'm almost 24, I can't live on just $200 a month- even if housing is free!

However, I did have a positive conversations with the Sky Sox guys and they put this whole event into perspective. First, my resume was probably never even looked at because I preceded it with a cover letter. Every job I've even applied for required a cover letter. How was I suppose to know not to include one unless I was told? Second, the Winter Meetings are mostly a networking event.

For what its worth, I did enjoy some of the Vegas nightlife and about that ... well ... what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lessons from Poker

This year's Thanksgiving seemed to be just the same as it always had the previous 20 or so times I remember participating in the festivities. Thursday early afternoon was the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the maternal side of the family. Large bird, tons of mashed and sweet potatoes, trimmings and, of course, pies.

The meal always feels short-lived compared to the amount of time that went in to prepare it, but I guess that's just the way it is. Just as always, we retired to the basement afterwards to witness another pathetically hopeless Detroit Lions vs "X-Team" game only to slip into food comas. This year we jazzed things up a little by going to see the new Australia movie. A good flick for a date, but not something for a guys night out.

Friday morning the paternal side spiced it up and went paint-balling. Good times. We laughed, had fun, played games, told the same stories for bajillionth time. That evening we ate leftovers, played poker and watched football. For the most part every thing felt the same, but as I sat at the poker table with a King and 9 of Spades watching the flop come down, what had been bothering me all day finally came to fruition.

I missed my grandfather's last Thanksgiving. I was with a friend in Alabama because I couldn't afford the plane ticket.

I felt sick. I became nauseated and light headed. My uncle said: "Action to John" bringing back my focus. I looked at the board. Two spades hit the board on the flop. I now had four Spades- only one more for a flush.

A diamond came down on the turn. Nothing. My heart was pounding. I call the next bet. The river card comes down ... it's a Spade. I now have my flush. My cousin goes all-in and I call her bet. She has two pair- not quite good enough.

In the end, I was lucky. This was only a play money game. No real hard cash, but it shows the concentration and focus needed to be successful at the poker table. One stray thought can be the difference between a profitable night and a disastrous one.

I didn't sleep much that night feeling guilty about not being there for what turned out to be my grandpa's last Thanksgiving. You start playing the whole "if I had only done this instead of that game" game again. If I had stayed in that one night instead of going out to the bars with my friends. If I had not spent that $40 on a new dress shirt, maybe I could have afforded that plane ticket.