I arrived to the Sheraton around 4:30 and made like a salmon against the river of blue being sluiced through the lobby and surrounding hallways. As luck would have it, Rundown writer Mike Canter was right there at the check-in room and we were able to get our passes together. While I’m very grateful to the Cubs for providing me with a media credential, I do have a bit of a gripe with the logistics of said item. Rather than a lanyard or even a simple string, the media cred is affixed to the holder’s clothes by an adhesive strip. Not exactly ideal for multiple days, but c’est la vie.
In any case, we made our way into the gaggle of groupies in the main lobby and queued up to be able to ride the escalator to the ballroom area. After a short wait, the constipated lines eventually began to move and we stepped into the cavernous room roughly 80 minutes prior to the 6pm CT start. We were already two-thirds of the way to the back.
It’s kind of an interesting scene right there at the start, what with one or two members from each group shuttling back and forth from the bar just outside the ballroom to keep their crew lubricated with the overpriced contents of various aluminum bottles. You’ve also got fans trading or buying vouchers for the guaranteed autographs of some of the event’s biggest stars (Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Ryne Sandberg, etc), with some going for upwards of $150. And then you’ve got the families fighting the combination of boredom (why do we have to stand here?) and disappointment (why are we so far back and why can’t we see anything?).
By the time Tom Ricketts took the stage, the excitement in the crowd was fueled as much by relief as anything else. But once that temporary emotional dike had given way, the booze and adrenaline washed over the assemblage in earnest. They cheered each and every high point of the owners review of 2015 in giddy anticipation for what was to come. I can’t say the place was whipped to a froth by the time Pat Hughes stepped to the mic, but his appearance was certainly special. After a couple months without baseball, his mellifluous voice was an absolute treat. As Pat announced the players, the resultant ovation was a sign of just how popular each one was as a Cub.
The demographics of the Convention are very interesting in that regard too, in terms of who they see as popular. Not that the list players is really any different for attendees than for those fans who’d prefer to distance themselves from all the rah-rah excess, just that the stratification is a bit different. I generally find myself interacting with folks who take a more intellectual approach to the Cubs and the game of baseball, but the group in that ballroom is running purely on emotion. And that’s not to demean the people there in any way, as I have plenty of emotion myself, just to say that it’s a different sort of crowd.
You can’t help but get a little carried away in the rush of endorphins though, buoyed by all the positive energy punctuated by claps, whistles, and happy cat-calls. Me, though? I was pretty quiet because I was streaming the entire event live via Periscope. I don’t believe you need to have the app in order to watch through your desktop, but you might need it for the phone (you should probably just download it now anyway). What you do need, however, is a little bit of time to sit down and watch all 36:26 of that video that I wrecked my arms to bring you. My back and knees didn’t fare too well either, as 2+ hours of standing in one spot isn’t the best thing in the world.
It was nothing a few beers wouldn’t cure, though, so we headed out to Lizzie McNeill’s, picking up Ryan Davis and then combining with Brett Taylor and the Bleacher Nation crew (among others) on the way. The concentrated wealth of Cubs Twitter in the bar that night was really something too. The guys from both the Wrigleyville Nation and Ivy Envy podcasts were there, along with the aforementioned bloggers and several of the usual suspects (Sahadev Sharma, Julie DiCaro, Ivy Chat, Manu, Darth Stout, Full Count Tommy, Cat Garcia, Mauricio Rubio, Aisle 424) from social media.
While much of the conversation revolved around the Cubs and the coming season, I recall some in-depth talks on Making a Murderer and the various processes involved in prosecuting and defending the cases therein (several of these folks are lawyers). I was also told that I look stronger in person and that I have a lot of energy, both of which are euphemisms for the fact that I’ve put on some weight and that I talk fast and loud. I like strong and energetic better though, so we’ll stick with that. Sorry, no videos from that part of the evening, though there are some great pictures circulating.
As for videos, I’m going to follow this post with several more on the various sessions from the Convention, along with my takeaways from each. My goal is to end up with another four or five posts throughout the next couple days. In closing, I’d just like to reiterate how much fun I had reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. I’d also like to express my appreciation to the Cubs for the ability to attend as a credentialed media member, to have the opportunity to sit in the midst of Carrie Muskat, Patrick Mooney, Jesse Rodgers, Gordon Wittenmyer, Tony Andracki (who recognized me, though I think the Cubs Insider shirt tipped him off), et al. Several people reached out on Twitter to thank me for giving them access an insight into an event they couldn’t attend, but it was the Cubs that made it possible.
So thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, thank you for helping to make Cubs Insider something worthy of a press pass. Stay tuned, much more to come.