January, 2012 was my first experience at the Chicago Cubs Convention came. It was great to see what it was all about and so I thought I would share some of the things I learned about what to do, what not to do and how I plan to do the next convention that I go to.
Cubs Convention Autographs I am not much of an autograph seeker, but the Cubs convention is a great place to get a lot of autographs. We got there early to see the long line for both registration and the autographs on Saturday morning just before 9 AM. It looks like it's best to bring your own items for the player's to autograph to avoid the expense of paying for the items (photos, baseballs) that they have for sale.
The autograph rooms are not the only place to get autographs. We took a look at the various booths and memorabilia downstairs and they had a nice set up for kids to try their hand at hitting and pitching for both younger and older kids. The players on hand giving instruction will sign autographs and take pictures with kids. I was able to take a quick photo of Brett Jackson while he was cheering on one of many kids in the batting cage. The schedule said that Anthony Rizzo, the new Cubs first base prospect, was suppossed to be there also, but we did not see him. New Cub, Christ Volstadt was there along with the last Cubs pitcher to win 20 games in a season, Jon Lieber.
Cubs Convention Tips
Opening night sounds like it is more of a pep rally from high school than anything else. We did not go to the first night, but from what I have heard from others and various videos I have seen, it is more announcing all of the players that were in attendance, both current players and former players coaches and announcers. The big news at this year's convention was of course, the announcement of the Cubs new President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, his new General Manager, Jed Hoyer and the announcement of re-signing Kerry Wood (video below).
On Saturday, we were able to get seats in the Grand Ballroom to see the forum with Theo Epstein and Cubs announcer, Len Kasper. For any of the forums in the GRand ballroom, be sure to get there early if you want to get seats. My friend and I did not sit together for the Ron Santo forum because we got there too late (lesson learned!!). If you have more than 2 people in your party, get to any of the forums very early if you want to sit together. As the day go on, the less popular forums do have plenty of seats available, but keep in mind that if you want to take photos and get good seats, you do need to try to get to each room at minimum 15 minutes early to get decent seats. My plan next time will be to plan out which forums I want to go to and even decide on what time to leave each forum. If you want to get very strategic about it, you can plan it with whoever you attend with to save seats, but you'd be well advised to keep your cell phones on to try to locate each other.
Theo Epstein made a great point about the advantage of the players the Cubs received back for Sean Marshall. Marshall has progressed to become one of the best young relievers in all of baseball. And Epstein said he was a great teammate and that he would love to have 25 Sean Marshall's on his team, but with Marshall being just one year away from free agency, he wil get expensive to keep and by trading him for 3 players with decent potentional who combined have just one full season in the major leagues, he is trading one year of keeping Marshall at a reasonable salary for 17 years worth of future production from 3 players with upside potential.
I really liked Jed Hoyer's comments about building a team for 2 parks, since the wind tends to blow in as often as it blows out. The Cubs for years have seemed to try to win with sluggers and hard throwing pitchers. New management seems to focus more on team speed, defense and flexibility and pitchers that pitch to contact rather than hard throwing pitchers that strike out a lot of batters.
New Cubs manager, Dale Sveum commenting how an error means additional pitches, more innings for bullpen. Sveum consistently brings up team effort and hard work a lot. I already like his style and feel confidant that even if the 2012 Cubs aren't that good (in victories, at least), I'll be very surprised if this version of the team doesn't play hard. This fan will appreciate that.
Bob Brenly-loved the comment about his honesty while announcing: "Repeat infractions make me mad"
Rick Monday-One of the more memorable moments in Cubs history is when Rick Monday ran out to save an American flag from being burned at Wrigly Field. Monday asked for that flag from that day on April 25, 1976 and it was returned and given to him. His wife has used it to make speeches over the years that has helped them raise over $500K for various veteran charities. Monday and the Cubs have agreed to bring the flag to the 2013 Cubs Convention.
Keith Moreland, former Cubs player and current Cubs announcer (known as Zonk) told a great story about how his dad didn't appreciate some of Harry Caray's comments about Moreland. Moreland said his dad would punch Harry if he saw him and Moreland tells a story about asking Jody Davis to help him keep his dad and Harry seperated.
Dave Otto has found a way to prevent sneezing. He puts a pencil up his nose.
The Ron Santo Forum
His son, Jeff Santo, just kept saying "Finally" about Santo being elected to the Hall of Fame.
His wife, Vicki, living with Santo was like a 28 year episode of Seinfeld. She also told a great story of Santo playing waste basket basketball with his 5 year old grandson and getting so excited when he would make a basket.
Billy Williams commenting about the hotel in cooperstown they stay at for the Hall of Fame ceremonies. "Those baseball cards seem to come to life"
Randy Hundley and Glenn Beckert should take their act on the road. They are hilarious telling stories about their days with Santo. Beckert was so proud to be Santo's roommate his first year with the Cubs, until he realized that it was only because nobody else wanted to room with him.
A few very inspirational stories from attendees, one about a diabetes patient who had his leg amputated that Santo took the time to talk to him about what he needed to do. Another person who said Santo attended their diabetes support group and gave instructions how the lady could get Leo Durocher's autograph by calling the surly Cubs manager "An Old Fart".
Jason McLeod and Theo Epstein first became acquainted when Theo was an intern with San Diego in 1995
New scout, Joe Boehringer is an MIT grad that was located in Dekalb, IL as a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. To give an idea of how how much research is done on players, he mentioned that the Cubs used 21 differnt sources to make the decision to trade for new Cub, Travis Wood.
Oneiri Fleita when asked about a player he "missed" on as a scout mentioned that he wanted to see Francisco Liriano throw a few pitches, but he refused since he was an outfielder at the time. that same year, he was converted to a starting pitcher.
If you want to experience a little of what the Cubs Convention is all about, here are a few audio and video clips of various forums at the 2012 Cubs Convention.
Julie Dicaro, a reporter for the Red Eye, commenting that Jed Hoyer looked like Bieber!!
I've just started to become interested in Twitter and if you follow the right people, you can find out things real time at the Cubs Convention. Al Yellon with Bleed Cubbie Blue and Julie Dicarlo with the Tribune, Red Eye were "tweeting" throughout the weekend with great pics and information.
2012 Cubs Convention Videos
More Cubs 2012 Convention Coverage-Enjoy!!