Woke up bright and early on Saturday. Got ready and headed down for breakfast. Knowing that we wanted to try to get the most out of the day, we just opted for a muffin and some Starbucks coffee (BIG POSITIVE)! We were going to attempt to get an Anthony Rizzo and Darwin Barney autograph, but when we got to the ballroom floor and saw the lines, we forgot that idea quickly. The lines were sooooo long, you couldn’t even tell where the line ended! My dad and brother were going to the seminars, so between them and the Twitter updates I was getting from my phone, I figured I would find out about the Wrigley Renovations and the Rickett’s family forum updates through that, so, to the Kid Zone we went. There was a little more activity going on in there than there was Friday night. MLB Network had a giant inflatable pitching thing set up that the kids could try to throw a strike (a little circle cut out in the back of it).
That got old quickly. The batting cages were finally opened, so my kid chose that over getting some coaching from the coaches Dave McKay and Jamie Quirk on the Walgreens Baseball Field. However, after they were done, he did want to take part in the Strength and Conditioning workshop with Tim Buss and Mike Borzello… so, at 11:45 we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally about 12:15, a half an hour after it was supposed to have started, the guys showed up! (There were some angry parents who had finally given up waiting and headed over to the Kids Only Seminar. One lady told me she was flat out embarrassed that she had talked her friends and their kids into joining them at the convention this year. She said she felt bad that they had wasted their money on this! That was a bit brutal, but I could see she was frustrated as well!). It was well worth the wait, as they put on a very informative workshop for the kids, putting them through the drills they put the players through to warm them up, explaining why they were doing things, and the importance of doing these drills everytime they play.
Afterwards, they pulled the parents in and asked us if we had any questions. I did! For the next 45 minutes, I talked to Tim Buss about various things! He was very very nice and told me if I had any more questions to email him and he would be more than happy to help! What a nice guy! POSITIVE
Funny story here, he was talking about making sure that the “butt muscles” are conditioned. Those are extremely important to pitchers. He pointed out Kerry Wood. He said “Now, Kerry has a little butt, not anything against him, but if you compare him to Zambrano, he has a BIG BUTT and has more power coming from his lower half…” right then, James Russell walks up to us. He say, “No worries, Russy, I wasn’t talking about your butt.” James Russell comes back, “But I have a nice butt”. Buss: “Yes you do, Russy”. Russell turns around and shakes it at us then walked over to the Playstation area. He picked up one of the controllers and he competed against the kids there for a good hour!
The entire time I was chatting with Tim Buss, my son had joined in Travis Wood‘s session on how to pick guys off first base! He is a pitcher on his little league team, so I could see him just soaking everything this major leaguer was showing him! He came running over to me and said, “Mom! He said my pitches have some real zip to them! He likes my pitching!” For all of the stuff that was frustrating on Friday, THIS is what the weekend was about. THIS is why we were here. He was having the time of his life. He could care less about the autographs and who it was in front of him, he was there for the baseball! I just sat back and enjoyed watching him play ball with Travis Wood!
Finally, it was time for him to have some batting cage time with a player. Tony Campana was one of the first ones in there, but the kids were in for something different. Tony works with a wheelchair baseball league in Chicago, and one of them was there with his specialized wheelchair that allows them to play ball. Tony had the kids sit in the chair and he pitched to them (Tony really CAN do it all, including pitching LOL). As much as the kids seemed to be annoyed that they couldn’t just get in there to hit, it really did teach them a few things, such as how hard it is to have to use your entire upper body to just swing a bat when you can’t use your legs, but more importantly, that even under adversity, you can still do things that others can do if you put your mind to it!
He also took some batting lessons with Todd Walker, an outfielding lesson from Dave Sappelt, a pitching lesson with Scott Sanderson, and a catching lesson with Wellington Castillo. I could only sit on that floor for so long, so while he was doing all of this, I went to check out the Not For Women Only session with Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, and James Russell. I used to listen to this session on the radio with Kathy and Judy and it was one of my favorite segments to listen to. I loved Kathy and Judy when they were on the air. I was very disappointed that it wasn’t offered last year, but after sitting in this year’s, they can do without it. It wasn’t NEARLY as funny as it was with Kathy and Judy. Perhaps the guys were unaware of how that segment used to be, as they were somewhat dumbfounded at some of the silly questions asked and really didn’t provide any entertainment in their answers. It was almost like a re-play of the WGN sports Central show we had sat in the night before. Kudos for the lady for trying, but it just wasn’t the same and was quite boring.
After that, it was time to break for a late lunch/early dinner. Honestly, that was pretty much the end of our excitement for the weekend. After we ate, we headed back to the Kid Zone and most of the instructional things were done with for the day. There were some kids with energy to burn just running around in there. One of them eyed one of the big, puffy softballs in there. Okay, so they had a ball. They had a field. They had about 20 of them standing around, and it was as if they all read each other’s minds. They organized two teams and decided in just a game of good ole’ “arm ball”. (They used their arms as bats)! They quickly learned each other’s names. But those didn’t matter, they called each other by the name of the players that they had on their shirts/jerseys. There was a 3 foot tall Darwin Barney out there. There was a blond haired Anthony Rizzo. It was like watching a live rendition of Sandlot! When one kid would have to leave to go follow Dad or Mom to another autograph signing, another little Cub would join in. The ages ranged from 4 or 5 to 14. It was fun to watch, but not so fun to sit on that cold hard floor. Very cold. The air was cranked up so high in there, that I had to run back up to the room for a sweatshirt! On my way back down, I made a stop in the Sports Central Saturday broadcast and watched it for a bit. My son had really wanted both Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo’s autograph, so I went and pulled him away from his game (much to his dismay) and explained to him that it was going to be easier to get an autograph in here during the commercial breaks than it was going to be to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to get in line and HOPE to get one), so he tried it, until the intoxicated adults had no sympathy for the kids wanting to get an autograph and pushed and shoved them out of the way to get their bats, jerseys, cards signed. (Did I mention that alcohol was much more readily available in this hotel than the Hilton? Many adults took advantage of it) My son gave up and refused to even try to get one. He sat next to me for the remainder of the session totally bummed out.
We were getting tired. We headed back to the Kid Zone for another hour of Arm Ball, until they kicked us out at 7pm to shut it down for the night. We decided to skip the Rookie of the Year movie because it was so cold in the ballrooms, and we were tired, and there was a Bulls game on, we stocked up on some of the warmed hot dogs and pretzels and headed back to our room for the night.
Baseball season's underway...
So you'd better get ready for a brand new day
Hey Chicago whattya say?