The Cubs Convention is now a time-honored tradition almost as sacred in the world of Cubs fans as day baseball, the manual scoreboard, the ivy, the urinal troughs, and the years and years of constant losing.
It is a time when Cubs fans can join together in the middle of winter to re-connect with Cubs baseball. It allows opportunities to get to know the players and the coaches of this years’ team on a more personal level. It gives kids the chance to get autographs, it gives old ladies a chance to see who can attach the most pins to their hats without falling over, and it gives adults the chance to be accosted by drunken beat writers at Kitty O’Sheas.
Amongst all of wondrous magic and pageantry, it also allows everyone there to get absolutely bludgeoned with hype being being tossed about by the Cubs’ marketing machine.
This years’ incarnation has a few new corporately sponsored features, as well as the return of various sessions that we have all grown to know and love. Let’s take a look at some of the offerings this year from the Cubs’ press release, shall we? SHALL WE?!!!!
The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is a LEGO building area that will feature Master Model Builder Jayson Mueller as he constructs impressive creations, shows different building techniques and answers questions from fellow builders of all ages.
So the new Cubs’ tradition is going to be built…. with LEGOs? Maybe the Triangle Building will be built with LEGOs as a cost-cutting measure? I’m guessing they just needed somewhere to stick Todd for the weekend.
The Best Buy Experience will allow fans to try their hand at a number of gaming consoles with the latest sports titles; discover their musical talents at an interactive DJ station; and connect at a computer cyber bar and charge their mobile devices.
Just bring an extra battery for you phone and/or some earplugs folks, because I am betting you won’t be able to pry Ronnie Woo away from the DJ station.
The Baseball Interactive Zone, hosted by Illinois Baseball Academy, provides an opportunity for fans to learn a few tricks of the game in a live setting. Professional instructors and special Cubs guests will give lessons to fans of all ages in designated areas for baseball skills, batting and pitching.
Theo is serious with this Cubs Way shit. He’s even training the fans.
Saturday’s slate kicks off with “Behind the Scenes with Theo Epstein” at 9 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom, followed by “Meet Cubs Baseball Management” featuring Executive Vice President/General Manager Jed Hoyer, Assistant General Manager Randy Bush and Manager Dale Sveum at 10 a.m. in the Continental Ballroom.
I really don’t know why they keep dragging Randy Bush into these things. He could probably sit there bare-assed naked with his hair on fire and people would rather ask Theo if it was really him at Starbucks than ask Randy if he’d like some water to put the fire out or if he’d at least cover up with a Cubs Way pamphlet.
“Player Development: From the Dominican Republic to Mesa,” featuring Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo and Jeff Samardzija discussing their experiences in the Dominican Republic and Mesa, Arizona, as well as front office leadership providing an update to the progress of each site.
From the Dominican Republic to Mesa? This smells of needing something for Samardzija to do, so they tacked on that Mesa thing.
“From the Field to the Booth,” featuring host Dave Otto talking with Bob Brenly, Todd Hollandsworth, Gary Matthews, Keith Moreland and Rick Sutcliffe about the benefits and challenges of taking the player perspective to the broadcast booth.
There are lots of good secrets in this session from Bob Brenly’s method of pre-criticizing the Latino players to Sutcliffe’s ability to convert any microphone into a whiskey flask. This is assuming Todd Hollandsworth shuts the hell up long enough for anyone else to speak.
“For Kids Only Press Conference,” presented by Advocate Health Care, with Darwin Barney, Tony Campana, Reed Johnson, Todd Walker and newcomer David DeJesus facing questions from a room of pint-sized reporters.
Paul Sullivan is allowed in too?
“Ron Santo: Beyond the Game,” featuring host Pat Hughes talking with widow Vicki Santo, son Ron Santo Jr., and friends and teammates Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley and Billy Williams about the personal side of Ron Santo and his recent Hall of Fame election.
This will probably be the last one of these having teammates from the 1969 team focused solely on reminiscing on Santo. Next year, I expect they’ll be back to reminiscing about how they were a big bunch of chokers.
“Coaches’ Den,” featuring new manager Dale Sveum, new bench coach Jamie Quirk, new pitching coach Chris Bosio, new first base coach Dave McKay, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and bullpen coach Lester Strode discussing their coaching philosophies, moderated by Bob Brenly.
This is the session where everyone will ask if Sveum will leave his starting pitchers in too long like Baldy McGrindy did, leading to next year’s session when they will bitch that he took the starters out too soon in favor of a bullpen that clearly sucks.
“Outside the Foul Lines,” featuring Tony Campana, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells sharing their personalities and experiences beyond the game.
I’m setting the over/under for separate Harry Caray impersonations at 4.5.
“The Ricketts’ Family Forum,” featuring Ricketts family members Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd discussing their journey as team owners and what they hope to accomplish in the coming years.
It’s the annual Pete Ricketts sighting! Assuming Todd doesn’t get out of his harness and pull the curtains down, this will be the part where Tom reminds us all that his goal is to win a World Series in Wrigley Field and that we need to be patient as he takes our money. The session will end when the old man with a baloney sandwich grabs a microphone and demands to know who owns the Cubs.
“When Super Fans Unite,” a session dedicated to the fans and their questions targeted to members of the legendary 1984 team, including Bob Dernier, Gary Matthews, Keith Moreland and Lee Smith.
Dis here session iss going to discuss why da Cubs did not have Ditka playing first base instead of Daaaaaaa Bull.
“The Scouting Formula,” featuring Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod, Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita, Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Wilken and Director of Professional Scouting Joe Bohringer discussing their secrets behind scouting and player development.
The talking points are tricky in this one since McLeod and Bohringer will want to emphatically highlight how they will improve the the pitifully barren farm system that has been built by the other two guys sitting next to them at the table. My guess is they will talk a lot about prospects like Baez, Vogelbach and Maples from the last draft as evidence the farm is stepping forward without bringing up Hayden Simpson.
“Meet Cubs Business Management,” offering a look toward the future of the Cubs and Wrigley Field with Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, Executive Vice President, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Wally Hayward, Executive Vice President of Community Affairs Mike Lufrano, Vice President of Ballpark Operations Carl Rice, Vice President of Ticket Sales Colin Faulkner, Vice President of Business Development Alex Sugarman and Director of Fan Experiences Jahaan Blake.
I would like Crane Kenney more if he dedicated the whole time to a thorough Powerpoint presentation explaining every detail about the Cubs’ organizational chart while staring at Yellon the whole time, but it will probably be a lot of crap about videoboards and urinal troughs.
Guests can then head over to the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Revue” for a night of dancing, singing and plenty of laughter during a live show from Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press.
Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press, aside from being a wet dream for anyone trying to write low-brow comedy and who are totally not made up by me, consists of members named (of course) Rod Tuffcurls, CC Ryder, Dick Celebritey (sic), and Uncle Sex.
According to their website:
We combine “competent” musicianship, “bone-crushing” 3-part-harmonies, and “interesting” song choices- to provide the audience with an experience away from which they can not willingly look.
They sure do sound like they are “fun”, “talented” and not at all “embarassing” to have them associated with a “major league” baseball team!
But now that I think about it, they are actually perfect for this mass of “humanity” where Ronnie Woo is a revered celebrity.