The annual winter warm-up known as the Arkansas Travelers hot stove meeting was canceled on a chilly Tuesday night because the star attraction -- Los Angeles Angels right fielder and Central Arkansas homeboy Torii Hunter -- was presumably stuck in Dallas thanks to the winter storm all the media people in town for the Super Bowl are constantly whining about.
Wait, what's that? You had no idea the anticipated hot stove meeting was scheduled for Tuesday? And you didn't know we were finally getting an appearance by an Angels player after all these years of nothing at the annual event???
Unless you were one of the special people included on a list of about 180 VIPs invited to this year's hot stove meeting, you are not alone in having no idea this was taking place.
That's right, the Travs finally land an actual MLB star and in-state favorite, and what do they do? Exclude the fans!
Call me crazy, but ever since I started hearing Jim Elder talk up the annual hot stove meetings during his morning and afternoon sportscasts on KARN Newsradio 920, I got the impression that the idea was to generate interest among the fans as baseball nears its return to spring training and maybe sell a few season tickets as a result.
Why have they been giving away free hot dogs and beer to entice people to come otherwise?!?!
This blog began in January 2006 because this franchise was mostly in a state of neglect by the community, and I wanted Central Arkansas to wake the hell up to this overlooked gem in the city as if it has the Boston Red Sox in the backyard.
Several times since it has been suggested that the Angels, also neglecting this gem in its own way, give us some respect and bring a player once in a while like so many other Minor League teams across the country seem to get when the parent club hauls some kind of caravan into town, and when the Angels signed Hunter it was said here that this was the perfect marriage for a hot stove appearance.
So an Angel finally shows up, and on top of that it's Torii Hunter rather than some jobber Bill Valentine complained about on his way to the bigs, and what do the Travs do? They close the hot stove meeting to the public.
Other than their selected VIPs, none of the Travs' long-time fans were deemed worthy enough. Heck, I bet Arkansas Al Janssen didn't even get an invite!
Even the media seemed to be in the dark from the people I talked to. This was a golden moment to put the Travs in the media spotlight like no other time this year.
A tremendously missed opportunity -- unless they right this wrong when the hot stove meeting is rescheduled. If not, they will be hearing about this for years to come from resentful fans. If you thought the complaints about cold popcorn were virulent, you ain't heard nothing.
So if you aren't one of the exclusive people invited this year, in addition to missing Torii Hunter, I guess you will just have to miss Angels farm director Abe Flores's BS about winning being the first priority and Bill Valentine standing in the back making snide remarks while other people are talking -- which were the highlights last year.
Once again it's on.
-- Travelerocity reporter