The guys at Vine Line got me a ticket to this year's convention.
Because they're awesome.
In the past I always arrived late to that Saturday morning meeting with the GM and Manager, ended up standing in the back of the crowded ballroom getting pictures of the backs of Cub fan's heads.
I thought with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Dale Sveum and Shiraz Rehman, I should finally be on time.
Instead of the Hilton on Michigan, it's at the Sheraton on the river this year.
Phones work here which is fabulous, but... new layout.
"Can you tell me where ballrooms 9, 10, and 11 are?" I ask the lady with the Cubs badge.
She points to the numbers above the doors in the lobby.
There are also little halls that run between the groups of ballrooms, and I walk down one of those.
I'm an hour early, and there are only about 50 people in here so I grab a seat 2 rows back, excusing myself to step past a number of fans in the row.
After 20 minutes, the Ricketts all walk in and they're talking to people which is cool.
But then they suddenly Len Kasper jumps up onstage and introduces them.
What the hell?
I look at the program, it must be the Ricketts Family Forum.
I've been sitting in the wrong room for a half hour?
And now I... I can't just rudely walk out because I'm right up front.
But this is a q&a thing only - no real speech from the Ricketts.
Question askers line up behind a mic.
I listen to one and then I actually say to the woman next to me, "Weeeeellll, guess I'll go get in line now. And go ask my question. To the Ricketts."
Every time I step over someone's legs in the row, I whisper, "S'cuse me. Gotta go ask my question."
Then I sauntered to the end of the line and hauled ass.
I'm such an idiot.
Okay so now it's onto the Theo thing.
I'm still actually early and get an even better seat than I had.
They're a really impressive group.
You end up with the feeling that no matter the room, they'd be the smartest guys there.
So there were lots of questions and I can't make "actual" quotes, but I took some notes and you'll get the gist.
The Dempster trade thing was a semantics error.
When Hoyer said Dempster was "in the office", that didn't mean actually in the same office with Hoyer.
It meant Dempster was in the office (building) just in case they needed to discuss something quickly, Hoyer would summon him.
Hoyer also got a mild laugh talking about the "botched" trades, comparing it to buying a house.
Like if something goes wrong with the inspection or whatever, do you say you botched buying a house?
I kind of buy that.
Randy Bush identified Nick Struck as a pitcher he thought was on a faster track.
Theo spoke at length about the "Cubs Way", which I'd only ever thought of as a concept.
But it's apparently a couple hundred-page manual with everything from batting philosophy to how to act off the field that every player no matter the level gets to read and...live by.
Sveum grunted that he'd never gotten anything like it when he was playing.
(It's awesome when you've got Sveum and Epstein in the same room - if they starred in a 70's tv cop show, it would be called "Pinetar and Vorp".)
More Theo: the "mindset of a small market team with the resources of big market" thing - that they'll build the team and when the time is right will have the juice to go get the player(s) to put them over the top.
Somebody asked about the draft and Theo began the answer with the gif above.
They talked about leaving Peoria for Kane County so that the players there can get used to Chicago and Chicago can get used to those young players.
Some other funny stuff from a guy "representing the senior citizens" who "don't have alot of time".
All in all, a pretty cool event.
And... the emotional bond being created between us and the new team, don't you think this is unique?
When teams like the Dodgers are being put together overnight with money?
Once the Cubs are truly competitive, don't you think it'll feel more rewarding to have grown with them rather than buying them from Miami?
I know, we don't have any choice.
But if this makes any sense... it seems like more than most fans we'll get to root for our team rather than just our logo.
So...GROW you kids.
Couple things from the Cubs Convention
The guys at Vine Line got me a ticket to this year's convention.
"Terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.