Cubs Convention 2013... my mixed review
After a whirlwind weekend and trying to get back to “real life”, I finally have a chance to sit down and give my take on the Convention this past weekend. Now, keep in mind, I went to the Convention with my 13 year old son who lives and breathes baseball, so this weekend was to be more about him than seminars and Q&A sessions. I would have loved to get to more of the seminars, but I wasn’t going to drag my kid to a sit down to listen to the big wigs talk about things they would like to do to the field or Theo and Jed’s thoughts on botched trades and hear the elderly fans tell them they are running out of time. Especially when there was a ballfield and batting cage set up in the kids zone.
As far as the Convention goes, I think I can compare it to Kerry Wood‘s career. After his first big game, the 20 strikeout game, which was amazing, it was hard to go up from there. Same thing with my convention experience. This was my second one. Last year was incredible! Amazing! This year, it was okay, but it just couldn’t compare to last year. There were positives, but there were a lot more things that frustrated me.
A little rundown of our weekend: (okay, so maybe not so little, but here it goes! )
We got to the Sheraton about 1pm on Friday afternoon. There were already Cub fans swarming the place. We walked into the lobby and right away there were Cub employees there with signs that said “I can help”. Nice touch. They directed us to either the hotel check-in or the convention check-in. We definitely got in the first of many lines this weekend to check into the hotel. We got up to the desk, I look to my right and there is Fergie Jenkins checking in right next to us!
I’m proud of Cub fans, as the Lobby seemed to be the “danger zone” for any player the whole weekend. If one was spotted, and immediate rush to create a mob around them took place, but for Fergie, they left him alone to check in! (Well, minus a few pictures being snapped ). We got our rooms and went over to the convention check in, which was very painless and quick. (Positive) No lines, we were in and out within just a few minutes and on our way to the 19th floor.
The room, compared to the Hilton was nice. It was a lot bigger than our room last year, but nothing fancy. However, I did like, at the Hilton, they had a computer in there that had a directory of local food places, hotel directory, etc. This would have been helpful in a later event that happened.
We decided to head down to the Bistro and get some lunch. We were greeted warmly at the door, sat at a table and given a menu with just a couple of dozen choices on it. Now, when you have a 13 year old kid who just wants a burger, and he sees things such as “avacado” and “goat cheese”, he kinda gives me the look like “Really?”. We ordered the classic burger and figured we found what we would be living on this weekend! There was not a lot of ”Kid Friendly” food choices to eat in the hotel all weekend, unless you wanted to pay $5 for a hot dog that sat over a warming plate for who-knows-how-long at the table set up in the hallway by the ballrooms. (Big Negative) While we were waiting for our food, my dad looks at me and says “Is that Lee Smith?”. I turned my head to the table just to my right, and as soon as he said something, I knew it was him! Someone else noticed him, ran up for an autograph, and he politely said “Not while I’m eating dinner”. Can’t blame him there! He was more than accessible all weekend, so I’m thinking those kids probably ended up with his autograph anyway. Shortly after they sat down, Bobby Dernier showed up to say “hi” to Lee Smith! Pretty cool!
After our meal, we kind of wandered around the hotel with our maps on hand trying to figure out what was where. We headed down to where the shops were set up. In our packet was a scratch off card for one of the booths set up. We had each one a free sample of popcorn and a Ron Santo baseball card, so we went down to redeem them. Good ole’ Gary Pressy had his organ set up in the corner of the room and provided some festive ballpark organ music to set the mood. We weaved through the crowds who were signing up for a chance to win free rooftop tickets, people searching for their favorite Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Bears players’ autographs on various things, the minor league clubs’ booths, people selling their own Cubs-related items, trivia challenges, and clothing stores. (On a side note, if you ever get a chance to look at the artwork of John Hanley, please do! It’s amazing! He does prints Chicago sports stars and they are breathtaking! I ended up with 2 prints and a book of his.) This is one of the Ron Santo ones I got this weekend:
After filling the Cubs cash registers with lots of sweatshirts, t-shirts, books, etc, I had to drop my goodies off or my arm was going to fall off, so back up to the room we went. By this time, I knew it was getting time to head down to get in line for Opening Ceremonies (if there was one, but from last year, I knew we sat in line for a long time before they let us in). We got to the ballroom on the 4th floor where the Opening Ceremonies were being held and found we got right in. We actually were right toward the front, but I could tell this was going to be a problem all around, as even though we were only about 3 rows back, we couldn’t see the “red carpet” where the players were going to be, we couldn’t really see the stage, and definitely couldn’t really see the 2 large video boards set up on either side of the stage. I didn’t help that there were quite a few super tall people standing right toward the front that blocked the view of all of those behind them, but that’s going to happen. I already missed the balcony at the Hilton. (Negative).
The Ceremonies began, and just what I suspected, we couldn’t see anything. It was frustrating. I had’ to hold my camera up in the air, focus on the video screen and watch it through my camera. It didn’t help the mood that I was standing next to a grandmother who had already taken advantage of the MANY alcohol bars that were set up around the hotel and you could tell she had been helping herself for quite awhile, as EVERY time Tom Ricketts said something, or a player was announced, she gave a “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” and laugh uncontrollably. (Even if it wasn’t an appropriate time for a cheer!)…. frustration growing quickly. The alumni, announcers, and coaches were all announced. No big surprise that Kerry Wood got about as big of a cheer as Mr. Cub, who, really REALLY looks super frail lately! Some notables that weren’t here this year that were last year: Mike Bielecki, Bill Buckner, Andre Dawson, Shawon Dunston, Todd Hollandsworth, Vance Law, Bill Madlock, Gary Matthews, Rick Monday, Dwight Smith, Eric Young and I don’t remember seeing Rick Sutcliffe there, but I may have just missed it.) Then came the minor league players announced, all in one group. Must have been pretty awesome for them! The players got announced one by one, with the new ones being first. Typical polite applause, with maybe a little more enthusiasm for new pitcher Edwin Jackson. One thing I thought was quite odd was Tony Campana got just as loud of an applause and cheer as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo! For someone who is going to have quite a hard time making the team in a few weeks, he sure is a fan favorite! This is when we realized we were going to see nothing. This is a picture of what we saw, even with the camera above my head (if you look closely, you can see the top of Carlos Marmol‘s head). We would have been able to see more if we had stayed in our hotel room and watched it on ComcastSportsNet! They showed more one more video after the players were announced and then that was it. Whoa…. WHOA….. No Wayne Messmer? No National Anthem? HUGE FAIL! That was one of the things last year that gave me goosebumps. It got me pumped for the whole weekend and baseball to be here. (Negative).
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