This article really should consist of two sentences: The main thing I learned from the Cubs Convention is that Ernie Banks owes me $11. That is all.
Actually I learned a little more than that, but that's probably the most important one, but we'll get to that story later. The 27th annual Cubs Convention may have lacked the star-power of years past but you'd have never noticed with all the excitment Theo and his team brought to the Hilton. So for those who may have sat this one out I'll give you a recap of what a convention veteran like myself learned as the new regime made their first convention appearance.
1. I now know how to pronounce new Cubs manager Dave Sveum's name. (It's like swim...only not).
2. Kerry Wood is going to be buried in a Cubs uniform. (He's never leaving....ever. So if you're stealing his internet connection you can look forward to a few more years of free usage).
3.The Cubs are trying to set a world record for player in the organization with mullets. Seriously, not everyone needs to look like Sawyer from LOST.
4. Brad Zibung of The Heckler: taller in person. Julie DiCaro of the Red Eye: cuter in person. Barry Rosner: cooler in person. Paul Sullivan: shorter in person. Kenny McReynolds: creepier in person.
5. Shawon Dunston has a son in the Cubs organization that could be in the bigs sooner rather than later. Get your Shawn -o-meter's ready.
6. The food at the media social was much better in year's past.
7. Alfonzo Soriano is still a Cub. Carlos pena is not here, yet LaHarr and Rizzo are. Guess we know who's on first.
8. David DeJesus will make all those that miss Todd Walker and Mark DeRosa feel all warm and fuzzy again.
9. There's a new band for the Cubs Saturday Night dance party. Yeah, I'll miss Gypsee Lee too! (fyi she was a dancer at past dance parties)
10. If you don't have a baseball signed by Brett Jackson or Anthony Rizzo you just aren't cool. That Dave Otto autograph will get you no cool points in the lobby.
11. Concerts? What concerts? There's only one concert planned for the summer (oh yeah, and then there's Brad Paisley, and that whole Springsteen thing...)
12. You are insane if you are already in line at 4am waiting for a 11am autograph session for James Russell. Seriously people....seriously.
13. The Cubs trolley has video games on it! It also plays the same songs you hear Mike and Joe play at Cubby Bear. is that exciting?
14. The 2011 highlight video is amazingly missing one thing: higlights of the 2011 season. Ouch. There's a couple in there...but don't blink or you'll miss them.
15. Mike Hill, the Cubs former event operations chief is not around. Mike passed away a few eeeks before, but the notoriously all-business/jokester who would spend much of Saturday being the only guy besides the players wearing dark sunglasses was sorely missed. Many of the staff wore pins in his honor.
16. Rollie Fingers still owns a weird moustache. Why is Rollie Fingers here...good f'n question!!!
17. Ran into Dutchie Caray...literally ran into. Yes she's ok...Seconds later ran into Tom Ricketts. Yes, my job is still ok.
18.The silent auction offerred autographed items from many 7th inning stretch singers. After further review (and witnessing several items not bidded on) i have determined that we need an upgrade on 7th inning stretch singers.
19. The brunch/lunch for the players/staff in the mornings...sucks. Come one, eggs, bacon...something!!! Man cannot live off cinnamon rolls and Sierra Mist all day.
20.Ernie Banks owes me $11. Now let me explain, Mr. Cub isn like other players, he knows everyone. He knows everyone because he talks to EVERYONE! His 1 hour session turned into a 2 hour yap fest with every fan that walked by. Now thats fine....did you not say more personal attention? Did you not tell my wife more personal attention! (Jerry Maguire). Now i'm making sure the session goes smoothly, no biggie, talk that talk, Mr. Cub. I made the mistake of saying that I would get Ernie "whatever he needs". His eyes light up! "Really", he says...pulls me close and asks for a glass of Merlot. Ok fine, no biggie. I was thinking more of the free Sierra Mist but hey, he's Ernie Banks! So I send one of my guys to find a glass from one of the hotel bars, and even give him money to get it...not thinking this half of cup of grape juice would cost $11 dollars.
What else did I learn? Well Marlon Byrd looks in the best shape I've ever seen him in, we have an abundance of young pitchers, Brian LaHarr has weird hair, and Len Kasper just may be the nicest guy around.
So after another crazed weekend amongst Cubs fans my level of optimism is pretty high. How they'll do next season is anyone's guess, but at least we'll have a goal to shoot for: actual baseball highlights on the 2012 higlight video.