Please visit the Forum to share your thoughts on the Cubs Convention, who you got to meet, what presentations you attended, what you got autographed and what players and features you would like to see at the Cubs Convention.
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Kris Bryant Day Chicago Cubs Fans!

Billboard across from Wrigley Field as seen on April 5, 2015
With Mike Olt headed to the disabled list and Kris Bryant's Super Two status no longer an issue, the Cubs have called up Bryant, who is expected to make his major league debut this afternoon against James Shields and the San Diego Padres.

As you probably know, Bryant had a torrid spring, leading the Cactus League in home runs after leading the minors in home runs last year.  While Theo Epstein typically likes to call-up prospects while his team is on the road, his hand was somewhat forced here as Olt was not able to shake off being hit by a pitch on his wrist in Colorado on April 11th.  It now appears that Olt sustained a fracture that will require his wrist to be casted.

The Kris Bryant era starts today.   

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2015 Cubs Convention Autograph Report and Review


This was the first year in a long time in which we did not stay overnight at the hotel.  This, however, did not stop me from enjoying all three days of the 2015 Cubs Convention!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The bag of swag again included a program, a calendar, a complimentary issue of Vineline, a couple of pocket schedules and some advertisements, including this one for a Cubs pizza from Giordano's:

This looks delicious
I was delighted to find that I pulled a winner for the 11:00 a.m. signing of Jorge Soler:


We were then off to check out the vendors' wares.  We were extremely disappointed to find that the vendors had now been moved from the convention hall out into the hallway and crammed into conference rooms.  This new "Vendor Alley" was cramped, hot and poorly lit.

Clearly the Cubs, who have not made it a secret that they view the vendors as a threat to their convention profits, saw fit to further marginalize the independent sellers at this year's event.  This is really too bad, because the fun of going to the convention for me always included picking up a cool, old Cubs item or two.  This year, I bought some 8x10s from two different dealers but otherwise did not spend any money on other items for myself.

Hustle and bustle in Vendor Alley
Because we had no hotel room to return to, we were relegated to the hallway and hung there until it was time to get in line for the autograph hunt.  We made our way to the lower level and found six autograph stages, the official Cubs store, Cubs Authentics and the Cubs Auction.  While we hung out, someone paid over $200 for a pair of Soler's pants.

Auctioning off Jorge Soler's pants
We got in line at Stage B and at the appointed hour, were thrilled when super prospect Kris Bryant took the stage.  He was very personable and said his preferred nickname is "K.B."  He signed this 8x10 for me:

Ready to reign terror on the National League 


The other stages were occupied by Albert Almora, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards.  By the time we had met Bryant, however, the lines for each of the other prospects were way too long to have a chance so we headed out to find the other spots where players would be signing.  Much to our surprise, there were not any other players signing!  This was a drastic change from all the previous Cubs Conventions I had ever attended.  Typically, we would get to meet 5-10 players during the autograph hunt game.  (Hopefully, the Cubs will reconsider bringing back the old format for future conventions!)

We then found Jay Johnstone wandering the hallway looking for heavy metal fans.  He was nice enough to stop for this picture and sign my program:

This woman asked to be identified as "Negligent Monster."  True story.
We stood at the back of the room for the Friday Night with Ryan Dempster.  His monologue was actually pretty funny and even included a video short wherein he intimated that he opted out of his contract with the Red Sox to design and occupy the Clark costume.  We did not stick around much longer though.

  
Overall, Friday night was a big change but we were all giddy having been able to meet Kris Bryant.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

In what was a new experience for me, I actually had to get up on Saturday morning and drive to the hotel.  When we got into the convention hall, the doors were open even though it was not 9:00 a.m. yet.  That was very nice.  All of the players signing at 9:00 a.m. seemed to have capacity lines so we got in the queue for Kyle Hendricks, who was signing at 10:00 a.m.

Kyle Hendricks was a huge draw all weekend
Hendricks was very personable, but told me that he really does not have a nickname.  When I suggested "The Panther," he laughed and said he'd need to think about it.  Regardless, he will always be "The Panther" to me.  He signed this card:


Next, I was off to get in the voucher-only line for Jorge Soler, who was scheduled to start signing at 11:00 a.m.  Javy Baez, sporting a Mohawk, was signing on stage at the time:

A much thinner looking Javy Baez signs for a young fan
Once Jorge Soler was there, I waited patiently in the line and when I got to the front, security took my pull-tab card to punch it.  It was then that she informed me that I had won a signature for Sunday at 11:00 a.m., not Saturday.  I am an idiot.  My heart sank.  I told her that it was an honest mistake but she would not budge.  Finally, she told me I could plead my case to a supervisor.  The supervisor was super cool and let me get the signature because the guard at the front of the line had let me in and I had waited my turn.  Boy that was close.  Should I win again, I will make sure to double-check the date!


Soler did not seem to be very interested in being there.  He acknowledged me with a polite smile but did not respond to my inquiry as to how he was looking forward to the 2015 season.  (Perhaps he does not speak much English?)  He signed this 8x10:


While my boys went with my sister to meet Leon Durham, I got in line for George Altman, whose very creative nickname was "Big George."  I asked him if he was able to find good American food when he played (and destroyed) in Japan.  He told me that he really enjoyed playing there and then gave me his business card indicating that he has recently published a book about his life:  George Altman My Baseball Journey from the Negro Leagues to the Majors and Beyond.  He signed this card for me: 



Next, we got in line to meet Jacque Jones.  He did not specifically recall the play depicted in the photo but indicated, "I'm sure that hurt!"


Tough to see the autograph, huh?
Here is his signature on a card he signed for my sister
Sunday, January 18, 2015

We arrived a bit earlier on Sunday morning and found a large crowd in the hallway outside the autograph hall.  They let us in about 8:45 a.m. and we got right in line for Chris Coghlan.  Although we were disappointed to learn that he roots for the Red Wings, he was very receptive to a new nickname.  He said people either call him "C.C." or "Cogs."  I told him those were boring and asked him what he thought of Chris "King Cobra" Coghlan.  He laughed and said he was not so sure about the "King" part, although he was down with the "Cobra" moniker.  Move over Dave Parker, there is a new Cobra in town!

Chris "Cobra" Coghlan


Next we met Glenn Beckert.  Unfortunately, Mr. Beckert was having some trouble getting around and we heard that he cut his signing session short on Saturday because he was not feeling well.  He has always been awesome to talk to and very personable.  Here's to hoping this is just a temporary ailment.

  

We then met Bobby Howry, who explained that he liked to choose 62 as his uniform number because he knew it would always be available, especially when his first choice - 46 - was not.   

Bobby Howry - good ol' number 62
Next we went to get in the Gary Matthews line but found that the schedule in the program was not accurate.  Instead, we found southpaw Glendon Rusch signing at that time.  I was delighted to learn that Rusch is a metal head and loves 1990s music including Metallica, Anthrax and Rage Against the Machine.  He is also a huge Seahawks fan and was certainly happy with outcome of that afternoon's NFC Championship.


   

 

The last autograph for the weekend was Milt Pappas.  Although he was in the Kids Only line, he was nice enough to sign my son's item and this card:



On the way out, we saw Tom Ricketts signing autographs and taking photos with fans and that was it for the weekend.  We went home, watched the Seahawks' miraculous comeback win over Green Bay and nursed our aching feet.


2015 Cubs Convention Overview

  • I am truly excited for 2015 Cubs baseball.
  • I had a great time, as always, hanging out with my kids, sister and all the random folks I spoke with over the weekend.  (But, I missed my friend and his dad who were not able to make it this year.)
  • It was nice to have all of the autograph stages in one area.
  • Chris Coghlan is now "Cobra."
  • The double queue and ticket distribution system for the autograph stages was well run.
  • The seminars and presentations were PACKED.
  • The Autograph Hunt this year was not terribly fun.  I am not complaining in that we were able to meet Kris Bryant but then it was just over.  There were only five other minor league prospects signing and there was no chance we would be able to get another autograph in the allotted time due to the length of their respective lines.
  • The Cubs are continuing to squeeze out the individual vendors and this is rather unfortunate.  Although the Cubs have complained that the vendors were hurting their jersey sales, the Cubs don't sell unsigned 8x10 photos, vintage memorabilia or individual baseball cards.  In fact, the official store at the Convention is really just a glorified garage sale used to rid themselves of the past season's unsold licensed apparel and merchandise.
  • My kids had a blast meeting the players and collecting autographs but were not terribly excited with the players in the Kids Only line this year.  Even though I explained that Fergie Jenkins is a Hall of Famer and Milt Pappas threw a no-hitter, they really (and how could I blame them) wanted to meet current players.
  • No more Pepsi booth and, accordingly, no more free samples.  The hotel was charging $5 for a can of pop.  Bring your own drinks or find the water coolers spread throughout the convention!
  • Can't wait until next year.  Go Cubs in 2015!      





    

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CBS and Cubs to Webcast Saturday Panel Discussion Live


For those of you who are not planning to attend the Cubs Convention this year, you will still be able to watch live webcasts of the panel discussions scheduled for Saturday at the CBS website here.

These programs include:

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Ricketts Family Forum
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Cubs Jeopardy
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. A Recent Look Back: The Cubs of 2007-08
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Meet Cubs Baseball Management (Josh Liss hosting with Ron Coomer)
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Meet the New Cubs
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Joe Maddon and His Coaching Staff (Lin Brehmer hosting)
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. For Kids Only Press Conference (WUSN’s Drew Walker and Shila Nathan)
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Cubs Business Operations Update
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. New Kids on the Block (Josh Liss and Mick Gillispie)
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Cubs Family Feud (B96’s Stylz and Roman)
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. What Lies Ahead (The Score’s Mully and Hanley)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Full Schedule for 2015 Cubs Convention

Friday, January 16th

6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Opening Ceremony
7:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Friday Night with Ryan Dempster, presented by Budweiser

(No autograph hunt game!?)

Saturday, January 17th

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Ricketts Family Forum
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Cubs Jeopardy
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. A Recent Look Back: The Cubs of 2007-08
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Meet Cubs Baseball Management
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Meet the New Cubs
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Joe Maddon & His Coaching Staff, presented by Wintrust Community Banks
1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. For Kids Only Press Conference, presented by Advocate Children's Hospital
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Cubs Business Operations Update
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. New Kids on the Block
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Cubs Family Feud, presented by Mastercard
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. What Lies Ahead
5:15 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. #CubsSocial
8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Cubs Bingo, presented by Budweiser

Sunday, January 18th

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. 30 Years of Cubs Convention Memories
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Down on the Farm

Cubs Release List of Confirmed Attendees for 2015 Convention

Major League Players:

Arismendy Alcantara INF/OF
Jake Arrieta RHP
Javier Baez INF
Dallas Beeler RHP
Welington Castillo C
Starlin Castro INF
Chris Coghlan OF
Justin Grimm RHP
Jason Hammel RHP
Kyle Hendricks RHP
Edwin Jackson RHP
Eric Jokisch LHP
Tom La Stella INF/OF
Jon Lester LHP
Rafael Lopez C
Miguel Montero C
Jason Motte RHP
Mike Olt INF
Blake Parker RHP
Neil Ramirez RHP
Anthony Rizzo INF
Hector Rondon RHP
Zac Rosscup LHP
Brian Schlitter RHP
Jorge Soler OF
Dan Straily RHP
Pedro Strop RHP
Ryan Sweeney OF
Matt Szczur OF
Jacob Turner RHP
Luis Valbuena, INF
Tsuyoshi Wada LHP
Travis Wood LHP

Minor League Players:

Albert Almora, OF
Kris Bryant INF
C.J. Edwards RHP
Pierce Johnson RHP
Addison Russell INF
Kyle Schwarber C

Cubs Alumni:

George Altman INF/OF
Glenn Beckert INF
Ryan Dempster P
Bobby Dernier OF
Mark DeRosa INF/OF
Leon Durham INF/OF
Bob Howry P
Randy Hundley C
Fergie Jenkins P
Jay Johnstone OF
Jacque Jones OF
Les Lancaster P
Jon Lieber P
Ted Lilly P
Bill Madlock INF
Gary Matthews OF
Dave Otto P, Broadcaster
Milt Pappas P
Glendon Rusch P
Lee Smith P
Tim Stoddard P
Rick Sutcliffe P
Steve Trout P
Billy Williams OF
Kerry Wood P

Coaching Staff:

Joe Maddon, Manager
Henry Blanco, Quality Assurance Coach
Mike Borzello, Catching Coach
Chris Bosio, Pitching Coach
Eric Hinske, Asst. Hitting Coach
Brandon Hyde, First Base Coach
Gary Jones, Third Base Coach
John Mallee, Hitting Coach
Dave Martinez, Bench Coach
Lester Strode, Bullpen Coach

Team Executives:

Tom Ricketts, Chairman
Laura Ricketts, Board Member
Todd Ricketts, Board Member
Theo Epstein, President, Baseball Operations
Crane Kenney, President, Business Operations

Baseball Staff/Broadcasters:

Jed Hoyer, EVP/GM
Jason McLeod, SVP, Scouting & Player Development
Randy Bush, Assistant GM
Shiraz Rehman, Assistant GM
Pat Hughes, Radio Broadcaster
Ron Coomer, Radio Broadcaster, INF (2001)
Len Kasper, TV Broadcaster
Jim Deshaies, TV Broadcaster

Special Guest: (Really?)

Clark, Team Mascot

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Convention SOLD OUT - Cubs Still Offering Packages at Sister Hotel


For the first time since the Cubs Convention moved to the Sheraton, all rooms and weekend passes have sold out.  If you were still contemplating a visit to the Convention this year, however, all hope is not lost.

The Cubs are still offering Convention room and weekend pass packages at a second Starwood property - the W Chicago located at 644 North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.  (This is about a 10-minute walk from the Sheraton.)  Visit this link for more details.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cubs Leak Confirmed Events for 2015 Cubs Convention


Here are the events that the Cubs have confirmed so far for the 2015 Cubs Convention:

Opening Ceremony

Friday Night with Ryan Dempster
Meet the New Cubs
The Ricketts Family Forum
Joe Maddon and His Coaching Staff
A Recent Look Back: 2007-08 Cubs
Meet Cubs Baseball Management
Cubs Business Operations Update
30 Years of Cubs Convention Memories
For Kids Only Press Conference
The Future Is Bright (Rookies)
Here to Stay (Young Cubs)
Cubs Family Feud
Cubs Jeopardy
Down on the Farm
#CubsSocial
Cubs Bingo

Cubs Announce First Round of Attendees for 2015 Convention

Steve Trout and Tim Stoddard sign autographs at the 2014 Cubs Convention
Here are the former players confirmed so far for the 2015 Convention, a few of whom have not appeared at the Convention in some time, such as Mark DeRosa, Leon Durham, Jacque Jones and Glendon Rusch:
  1. Ernie Banks
  2. Glenn Beckert
  3. Ryan Dempster
  4. Bobby Dernier
  5. Mark DeRosa
  6. Leon Durham
  7. Bob Howry
  8. Randy Hundley
  9. Fergie Jenkins
  10. Jay Johnstone
  11. Jacque Jones
  12. Les Lancaster
  13. Jon Lieber
  14. Ted Lilly
  15. Bill Madlock
  16. Gary Matthews
  17. Dave Otto 
  18. Milt Pappas
  19. Glendon Rusch
  20. Lee Smith
  21. Tim Stoddard
  22. Rick Sutcliffe
  23. Steve Trout
  24. Billy Williams
  25. Kerry Wood
For all of you sweating it out, Tim Stoddard and Steve Trout will be there this year.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rooms for Convention Weekend May or May Not be Sold Out

Rally Monkey selfie!
Perhaps as the result of the flurry of front office activity in the last few days landing Jon Lester with a whopper of a contract and getting Miguel Montero in a trade with Arizona, rooms for the 2015 Cubs Convention reportedly sold out.  Further reports, however, are that rooms still are available at this point, with the hotel possibly releasing a new block of rooms.

There are lots of reasons to be excited about the 2015 Cubs and we hope to see you at the upcoming Convention.  Weekend passes ARE still available as of today.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Thanks to Paul Konerko's Recent Retirement and 10 Years of Using the Same McDonald's Cup, I Am Now $5 Richer

Greg Maddux and part of Sammy Sosa's leg
The year is 2004 and I, like many other Cubs fans, was still in somewhat of a daze as to how close the Cubs had come to a 2003 World Series berth.

Back in 2004, people in Chicago still cared about the crosstown games between the Cubs and White Sox. So much so that McDonald's commemorated the event with a souvenir cup featuring each team's biggest stars.

The Cubs side included Greg Maddux, Sammy Sosa and Corey Patterson (true!). The White Sox side featured Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez and, finally, Paul Konerko.

Fast forward to 2006. The White Sox were World Series champions and my buddy at work asked why I had a White Sox cup on my desk. I spun it around and told him that it was actually a "Crosstown Classic" cup and that I preferred to look at the Cubs side.

What Remains of the Big Hurt
Then he asked me how long I had the cup, which was already starting to show some wear. I quickly found the copyright date and informed him the cup was from 2004. He asked how long I intended to use it. I told him I had never really thought about it.

He then dared me to use the cup until all six ball players pictured on the cup retired. I told him that was easy and that we should make it interesting. "How about $5 interesting," he replied. I agreed.

So every day at work - with 3 subsequent employers and several office moves - my McDonald's Crosstown Classic cup came with me. It has been washed 100s of times and has allowed me to drink 1000s of gallons of cool, refreshing water. And now, it has made me $5 richer.

As a Cubs fan, Paul Konerko was always my favorite Sox player. But thanks a lot for playing so freaking long and making me have to use the same cup for 10 years.