Ryan Dempster (center) signs autographs for fans (Cubbie Nation)
Filed: Jan. 17, 2010
Okay, I'll admit it; I'm hooked. After years of doing a wide berth around the Cubs Convention, I broke down and went last year, and returned for this year's festivities. The annual festival, now in its 25th year, brought in thousands of fans (and I do mean fan, as in fanatics) for the all-weekend event at the Chicago Hilton.
After two years in a row of attending, I can at least say that I understand it, and I may possibly enjoy it...possibly. I'm still trying to decide that part.
Whatever the case, there is certainly something for even the dispassionate fan like me, and if you've never gone, I'll say that you should. It's one of those baseball experiences that you should have at least once, like a week of Spring Training in Arizona, or a Red Sox game at Fenway.
That said, here are 10 things that I learned at the Cubs Convention this year.
The Cubs expect to add both a position player, and a veteran reliever within the next few weeks. And for those in the Jeff-Baker-as-second-baseman camp, I never once heard that it would be a bench player, with Hendry suggesting it would be someone who could bring a lot of things offensively to the club.
Marlon Byrd will bat fifth in the lineup, and Soriano will stay hitting sixth. If you're questioning the wisdom of letting a guy with a career-high .842 OPS, and a lifetime .762 OPS hit fifth for a supposed playoff contender, then you are not alone.
Lou Piniella would still prefer to eat glass than let Fukudome lead off, acknowledging for now that he'll probably hit first or second, citing Kosuke's lack of speed as the major factor.
The Cubs officially deny interest in Ben Sheets, despite numerous outlets reporting otherwise, and their attendance at his workout later this week. Me thinks Jim Hendry is a big fat liar on this one.
Ryan Dempster may have the most dead-on impersonation of Harry Caray that I've seen. I've seen his short-form work, but his extended sample of Harry calling a game will have you in stitches.
The wild rice and asiago cheese bison sausage, made by High Plains Bison, may be the best thing that I've ever tasted in my life.
Geovany Soto is back in shape, having lost a reported 37 pounds. He looks great, by the way, citing simple diet changes for the change. One has to wonder though what to make of a player who was so out of shape that laying off the chips was enough to drop a near 40 pounds in a bit over 90 days.
Carlos Silva is most certainly not.
It's time for the show to go elsewhere. Incredibly overcrowded sessions, inadequate facilities, lack of rooms, and a dysfunctional convention floor put the convention sorely in need of an location upgrade.
The Cubs' organization continues to spend significantly more time talking about stadium alterations and alternative revenue streams than the on-field product. Heads up, by the way, as they seem to have backed away from naming rights, but won't let the Jumbotron idea go.
The Cubs are actively campaigning to host the 2014 All-Star game, coinciding with Wrigley's 100th year celebration.
Great stuff. And if you're interested in a bit more coverage, check here for the photo gallery of the festivities, courtesy of our media arm, Triple Play New Media.