The second I walked in, a woman fell down a staircase and landed right at my feet.
She grabbed her foot and looked like she was gonna cry. I reached down to help and thought I was gonna throw up as I said, "Ewwww! Twisted ankle!"
She shook my hands away and got up as if nothing had happened.
I went straight to the Theo Epstein Show in the Grand Ballroom.
About a half hour early and it was packed.
There's an ancient woman in an official security guard outfit at the door, and I ask her if I can stand in the standing room only area.
She says, "There's still some seats."
"Yeah but do I HAVE to sit?"
"I don't know why not." she says.
"If I want to take some pictures."
"The fire department will shut us down."
"For taking pictures?"
"Please sit down, sir."
So I waited for Theo to come on while listening to this woman talk about her kidney stones:
Then, the Theo talk was fantastic.
He's literally a walking fountain of information.
Charming, smart, buttoned up, clear-eyed, glib, and pretty dang slick.
(I'm writing from notes so none of this is exact.)
He was telling a story about what he thinks is the most exciting part of the game - when the ball's in play. And he illustrated it with something like, "And the ball's hit in the gap and the right fielder's got to run to the ivy..."
Little things like the "ivy" thing are really slick for a new guy from Boston, but he pulls it off.
He talked about a million things all of which you've already read everywhere I'm sure.
...He spoke at length about the thinking behind the Sean Marshall trade and contract status and years of control (his persuasive logic was he traded one year of Sean for 17 years of well thought out potential between the 3 new players)...Patience at the plate will be the new rule (I believe him)...It's not a player's at bat, it's the team's at bat...He sort of dismissed "old school" vs "new school" and instead just called it "thorough and inclusive" school. Like a combo of scouting and computers to make informed decisions. (I'm sure that sounds lame, but coming from this new brain trust it feels real.)
And he talked about Bloomberg Sports and the new information management system they're working on.
Like, the information Cubs management thinks is important and what they get from their scouts will make the system "personalized" for the Cubs (and all TOP SECRET I'm sure) as they go along.
And that's cool, man.
When I got home I looked at some old Cubs Convention photos.
This seemed interesting:
So Theo ended and I moved to a better seat and waited for the next thing to come on, which turned out to be about the importance of real estate.
Did you know the Cubs employ a guy in charge of real estate?
Didn't get his name - Steve I think.
Anyway, this panel had Oneri Fleita, Wellington Castillo, the real estate guy, Jeff Samardjiza and Crane Kenney:
They talked about new facilities in the "D.R.", which really did sound good.
Lots of "state of the art" thrown around.
Here's a photo of their slide:
"Field 1" is the exact size and shape as Wrigley.
Dormitories and classrooms (English 101) and film rooms and a place for a future fantasy camp (hurl!).
Oneri told a story about an old facility the Cubs had down there.
They didn't have electricity or a lawn mower.
Instead, they had goats on leashes attached to a railroad tie. The goats would eat the grass in a circle, then they'd move the railroad tie around til the grass was all eaten.
(Of course I thought "GOAT!")
They also talked about the Spring Training facility in Mesa, and...remember all that freaking out awhile back about money? Looks like it'll be worth it.
That's a HUGE place, centrally located, and I guess a real estate guy really is kind of important.
Somebody asked Samardjiza why he chose baseball over football and he deadpanned: "Because of the facilities in the Dominican."
Here's some other random stuff:
Jeff Fassero at an autograph station. When I walked by the "gate" area I heard this conversation between two grown men:
GUY 1: Ahh, it's just Fassero.
GUY 2: Line's really short though.
GUY 1: LETS GO!
And they got in line.
I'll leave you with this.
At the Theo talk, one guy got up to ask a question.
"Hi Theo I'm Brian (or something). Can you tell me what changes you envision at Wrigley Field?"
And without missing a beat Theo says, "I think that W flag should be raised about 60 times."
Okay so probably not next year, but I cannot tell you how much more positive I feel about our favorite team right now.